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christian dior & suzanne spaak

You’ve heard of Christian Dior, a French fashion designer—founder of one of the world’s celebrity fashion houses. During the World War 2 occupation of France, Dior designed dresses for the wives of Nazi officers and French collaborators, as did other fashion housesconforming to the pattern of their world. His sister Catherine refused to conform. She joined the Resistance and ended up in Ravensbruck Concentration camp.
Suzanne Spaak was acquainted with Christian Dior. She, too, lived a pampered life, the beautiful daughter of a prominent Belgian financier. She married for status into a distinguished Belgian family, her husband was a handsome writer and art connoisseur.

By 1939 Suzanne’s life was dark.

Her pampered husband proved to be unfaithful. Distraught, but unwilling to endure the scandal of divorce, she consented to share him with his mistress—a woman who had been Suzanne’s friend. When the Nazis occupied France in 1940, they began rounding up Jews. Suzanne found herself wondering why, “My children are safe while others are threatened.”

Speculation led to a resolve, “What can I do, today?”

Counting on her innocent demeanor and chic style to avoid suspicion, Suzanne Spaak became a Resistance courier. Her upper-crust position deflected suspicion as she employed Jewish refugees as servants and hosted Jewish children as guests. She contributed her own money to the cause and leaned on wealthy acquaintances to do likewise.

“What can I do today?” She asked relentlessly, seemingly oblivious to the risks to herself and family. Sometimes with her adolescent daughter, she helped prepare forged identity papers that might allow Jewish children to survive under new guises. To identify possible homes for Jewish children Suzanne would take a train to various villages where she would go to Confession. In those churches she asked the priest if he knew families that might take in endangered children.

In 1943 she coordinated the elaborate
le kidnapping, rescuing 63 Jewish children from orphanages where they were being kept for transport to death camps. Furious, the Gestapo began hunting her, interrogating and imprisoning siblings, in-laws, even children. Finally Suzanne was arrested.

During her months in Fresnes prison—described as a
factory of despair—Suzanne revealed little. In prison she unraveled the threads of her blanket and used toothpicks to knit a tie for her son. For her daughter, she created a doll from strands of her own hair. August 12, 1944—just before Paris was liberated—Suzanne Spaak was executed in the prison courtyard.

Our world celebrates the Christian Dior’s while hiding the Suzanne Spaak’s. (Forty years after her execution she was honored as one of the
Righteous Among the Nations.) There exist forces opposed to the kingdom of God, forces willing to snuff out anyone manifesting such fruit of the Spirit as mercy, goodness, and kindness. Many who have been forgotten by this world are honored in the kingdom of heaven. ~

Dan Nygaard