Sunday 16 December 2012

The Journal of Helene Berr

Finished December 15
The Journal of Hélène Berr  by Hélène Berr, translated by David Bellos

The first portion of this journal, from 1942, was written as a private diary. Then there is a gap of about nine months and the second portion from later 1943 through early 1944 is written as a record of what is happening around her and for her fiancé should she not be here when he returns.
Berr is a university student at the Sorbonne, from a well-to-do family who have been settled in France for generations. She struggles with falling in love for the first time, determines to do the right thing in the face of the occupying Germans, and wanting to help those who need it.
We see her reaction to the order forcing Jews to wear yellow stars and how she reacts to those who react to  that. She is open in her journal about her emotions, and her struggles with what to do in the face of increasing restrictions. Because she was involved in assisting those arrested and awaiting deportation, she was more aware of what was going on than most, but that didn't save her from her own fate.
An interesting historical account from a unique perspective.

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