EDITH'S STORY by Edith Velmans


The True Story of a Young Girl's Courage, Love and Survival During WWII
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This significant Holocaust memoir of a girl hiding in Holland will be compared to Anne Frank’s diary, though it is very different. Yes, Edith went into hiding in the same city and same month as Anne Frank, and her mother even met Miep Gies, who hid the Franks. But while the Frank diary took decades to get recognized, this book (largely in diary format) was condensed by Reader’s Digest, won a literary award in England, and will be published in four other languages. Anne was also a precocious preteen, but more famous for diary entries on her family’s psychology and philosophical musings. Edith isn’t analytical, but her description is superior. In the 1940 invasion of neutral and safe Holland, for example, anti-aircraft fire is “heavy dark smoke clouds and little gray puffs, like bubbles,” and German paratroopers arrive in “hundreds of little black balloons.” Because she was, at 14, an ordinary teenager, she talks about boys, skating, school, and clothes. A very secular person with a Jewish grandmother, Edith sees herself as Jewish when Nazi laws forbid her from attending school or riding her bike. She wears the “ugly” yellow star of David as a “badge of honor” that prompts the sympathetic Dutch to say, “Keep your chin up.” As the situation deteriorates, her ailing mother and grandmother are caught by the Germans, one older brother escapes to America, and her non-Jewish father wastes away. Once the coddled baby, Edith has to spend her late teens posing as a gentile with the zur Kleinmiedes family—who already had to board Nazi officers. She can only shout her real name to the wind, thinking about deprivations like their one-egg-a-month ration and waiting for liberation. In another major difference from Anne Frank, Edith survives to double her diary’s content with adult comments. A valuable opportunity to see the situation just outside Anne’s attic.

Pub Date: Dec. 1st, 1999
ISBN: 1-56947-178-9
Page count: 240pp
Publisher: Soho
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15th, 1999