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The journal of Helene Berr
Helene Berr
Adult Nonfiction DS135.F9 B498413 2008

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From Publishers' Weekly:

"I was abruptly assailed by the feeling that I had to describe reality," writes Berr midway through this urgent firsthand account of the devastation of Paris's Jewish community during WWII. This journal, which begins in 1942 as the record of a young woman's "intense and buzzing" inner life, becomes over time a record of human suffering: "How will the world be cleansed unless it is made to understand the full extent of the evil it is doing?" Berr, daughter of a prosperous assimilated Jewish family, was forced to quit her studies at the Sorbonne, joined an underground network to save Jewish children, saw her father arrested and beloved friends deported. But as compelling as external trials are the thoughts and feeling of this brilliant, passionate and brave young woman. As the noose tightens around Paris's Jews, Berr wonders if she still has the right to find momentary pleasure in reading; she questions herself for falling into "instinctive, primitive" hatred of Germans. Yet in one overpowering moment of rage, she rails against impassive Parisian Christians who "crucify Christ every day." Berr died in Bergen-Belsen in 1944, five days before the camp's liberation, but her vibrant voice--full of anguish, compassion, indignation and defiance--springs from these pages--as extraordinary a document of occupied France as Irène Némirovsky's Suite Française. Photos. (Nov.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

From Library Journal:

The diary of a young Sorbonne graduate who died at Bergen-Belsen, this important new addition to the literature on the Holocaust and the French Occupation is sure to be welcomed by general readers and scholars alike. Already a publishing sensation in France, it survived in obscurity as a family heirloom until relatively recently, when the original was first displayed at the Memorial of the Shoah in Paris. The diary recounts the experiences and private thoughts of the 21-year-old daughter of a prominent Jewish family as she and those she loved suffered the indignities of life under the Occupation prior to their arrest and ultimate deportation and death. A student of English literature with a decidedly intellectual bent, Berr sought respite in reading, writing, and music to escape the tragedy unraveling around her. While surprisingly devoid of straightforward political commentary, the diary reveals that the "sinister meaning of it all" was not immediately apparent to Berr and those around her, itself a significant commentary on the mood and insecurities of the time. Translated by Bellos (French & comparative literature, Princeton Univ.; Georges Perec: A Life in Words), the volume includes useful annotations as well as a postscript that places the plight of French Jewry within historical context. Highly recommended.-Marie Marmo Mullaney, Caldwell Coll., NJ (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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