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A young woman’s inspiring story of fighting the Nazis in the Belgian and French resistance

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“A teenager makes a difference. Mary Rostad sees her country is being destroyed by the Nazis, so the “Squirrel,” as she is known, leaves her family and walks over a thousand miles in the cold with little food, always in constant danger, to report German troop movements. She was not a bystander but an upstander, a hero. At the end of the war, she visits Dachau and learns that President Eisenhower insisted the townspeople see the atrocities caused by the Nazis, an action that could have predicted the eventual rise of Holocaust deniers. Toward the end of her life, Mary—with the encouragement of her mentor, Darryle Clott—  feels compelled hare her experiences with the world.”  

– Sam Harris, founding member and driving force behind the creation of the Illinois Holocaust Museum, where he is President Emeritus; Holocaust survivor The Hour of Land

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About the book

A young woman’s inspiring story of fighting the Nazis in the Belgian and French resistance


“Squirrel Is Alive is a charming memoir of a young Belgian resistance fighter whose exploits during the German occupation of her country were the stuff of legend. As a young woman, she served as a courier transferring information, arms, and ammunition between resistance groups, defying the Nazis and leading a daring and adventurous life. Her journey took her into the arms of a liberating American soldier and into small-town America where she worked as a nurse.”

– Michael Berenbaum, Distinguished Professor of Jewish Studies and Director, Sigi Ziering Holocaust Institute


Mary Rostad was only sixteen years old when Nazis conquered her home city of Brussels in 1940. She joined the resistance movement, serving in Belgium and later France, as a courier of underground documents. Adopting the code name “Squirrel,” she walked over one thousand miles in frigid temperatures, far away from her home and her family to report on the movement of German troops. This heroic story challenges us to consider how we would act if faced with adversity.

Mary Rostad

Mireille Rostad was sixteen years old when the Nazis invaded her hometown of Brussels, Belgium. Using a false ID and a relying on a system of underground networks established by the resistance, she walked to France where she served as a medic and distributed clandestine newspapers. She served in the resistance for the remainder of the war using the code name “Squirrel.” After the war she worked in counterintelligence in General Dwight D. Eisenhower’s Frankfurt headquarters. She is the recipient of the Ellis Island Medal of Honor.

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