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Justus Rosenberg Books In Order

Publication Order of Memoirs

The Art of Resistance: My Four Years in the French Underground: A Memoir (2021)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Justus Rosenberg
Justus Rosenberg (pronounced “YOO-stus”) was born in Gdansk, Poland on January 23, 1921. He is a professor emeritus of languages and literature at Bard College.

His parents were minimally observant Polish Jews that spoke both Yiddish and German. Justus was multi-lingual by the age of nine, and had dreams of being a diplomat and he was an outstanding student.

He was sixteen when he was sent to Paris to study further, and it would be fifteen years before he got to see your family again. While he was in Paris, he plunged right into “a heady new atmosphere”, discovering a lifelong love of Balzac, and became fluent in French.

Justus took on odd jobs, when money from back home stops coming, including a small role in a play based off Jules Verne’s book “Around the World in Eighty Days”. His most useful and salient skill is his linguistic aptitude.

During the Second World War, Rosenberg was part of a French-American network helping to bring artists and intellectuals from Vichy France into the United States. For his wartime heroism, he received a French Legion of Honor award, and he’s received other awards from New York Council for the Humanities.

He says that he has survived through the war through a mix of resourcefulness, fortune, optimism, and (most importantly) the kindness of many good people.

After the war, he obtained positions at The New School, Swarthmore College, and in Bard College, which he has taught at since 1962. Justus has been a guest professor at New School University, universities of Singapore, Belgrade, Aix-en-Provence, and Cologne. Languages he’s taught include Russian, French, and German.

His research interests include writing of autobiographies and biographies. Teaching interests include Senior Projects, contemporary non-Western literature, translations, 19th century European novel, understanding Modernism and post-Modernism, and ten plays that shook the world. Justus is also interested in history and cultural history as well as the theater.

Justus got his PhD from the University of Cincinnati and his LL from Sorbonne, Paris. He was also a postdoctoral fellow at Syracuse University and Columbia University.

“The Art of Resistance: My Four Years in the French Underground: A Memoir” is an autobiography and was released in the year 2020, and was published by HarperCollins. Justus has spent the previous seventy years teaching the classics of literature to American college students. However, hidden within him, was a remarkable true story of wartime courage and romance that’s worthy of a great novel. Here’s Professor Rosenberg’s chronicle of his youth in Nazi-occupied Europe while he risked it all to stand against evil.

In the year 1937, after witnessing a violent Nazi mob back in his hometown of Danzig, a majority German city located on the Baltic Sea, Justus (just sixteen years old at the time) was sent by his Jewish parents off to Paris to complete his education in safety. Three years later, the Nazis returned once more, while France fell to the Germans. Justus, in danger and all alone, fled Paris and went south.

A chance encounter led him to Varian Fry, an American journalist in Marseille that led a clandestine network aiding thousands of women and men, including many legendary intellectuals and artists, among them Marc Chagall, Hannah Arendt, Max Ernst, and Andre Breton, escape from the Nazis. With Justus’ intimate understanding of German and French culture, his fluency in multiple languages, including English, he became an invaluable member of Fry’s operation as a scout and a spy.

He was also the youngest member of Fry’s team. His roles with the group when he first joined included office boy and courier, taking forged identity papers and messages to those the group was attempting to rescue.

After the Vichy government expelled Fry out of France, Justus worked in Grenoble, recruiting young women and men for the Underground Army. For the following four years, he’d be an essential part of the Resistance, relying on his wits and skills in order to survive several close calls with death. One time he found himself inside a Nazi internment camp, with his next stop Auschwitz. Yet Justus found an ingenious way of escaping.

He faked his way out by claiming to have severe stomach pains, and awakens while on a train to find that he’s had an unnecessary appendectomy. Even though he is far from healed, he will need to steal away from the hospital, with the aid of the French Underground, and bicycle his way free.

He spent two years during the war gathering intelligence, surveying German troop movements and installations on the Mediterranean. Then, after the allied invasion at Normandy in the year 1944, Justus became a guerrilla fighter, taking part in and leading commando raids to disrupt the German retreat across France. He used, as part of the Maquis guerrilla bands of French Resistance fighters, where he used his cunning, his youth, and his knowledge of languages to survive the war.

When World War Two ended, Justus emigrated to the States and built himself a new life. He has further adventures, including time spent in the Soviet Union, Cuba, Nicaragua, and China.

Justus tells a great story, one recounted with astonishing levels of lucidity, and describes his increasingly dangerous Resistance activities precisely. Readers found this to be an interesting, engaging, and ultimately moving memoir. Justus’s firsthand witness of these historical events, his fortuitous timing, and zest for life makes this a wonderful read. You may even forget that you are reading a memoir at all. It is told in such a plain and direct way and provides another way that people resisted during the war and is quite fascinating. Justus tells it in modesty without any great emotion or sentiment which makes it stand out.

In parts, Rosenberg’s sense of humor shines through, which is surprising, given the circumstances. The book reads like a John Le Carre spy novel, told in the low-key manner that’s typical of the survivors of World War II, filled with suspense and intrigue. It is devoid of any woe-is-me, without any bravado, and sentimentality.

The narrative tension’s continues while Rosenberg recalls escapes out of confinement, imprisonments, and successful missions against the Nazis.

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