HELGA'S DIARY by Helga Weiss


A Young Girl's Account of Life in a Concentration Camp
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A young Prague girl’s diary, amended after the events, chronicles her yearning for a normal life before deportation to Terezin and Auschwitz.

Covering the fraught period between Czechoslovakia’s mobilization for war in late 1938, when the author turned 9, to May 1945, when Weiss and her mother finally returned to Prague after the capitulation of the prison camp Mauthausen, where they were last transported, this diary offers a poignant look at the tense, precarious fate of the Jews under Nazi occupation. Weiss lived with her mother and father in a middle-class flat in Prague when the Germans invaded her homeland and anti-Jewish laws were put into place, gradually restricting every aspect of their lives. The author’s school was closed down, forcing her to be home-schooled at private apartments, and her unemployed father took over the cooking and cleaning. In December 1941, Weiss and her parents were deported to Terezin, confined to the bleak, disease-ridden barracks, and under constant threat of more transports east. In October 1944, Weiss’ father was sent to a labor camp, never to be seen again, while the author and her mother were sent briefly to Auschwitz, then to work in an airplane factory in Freiberg. Lying about her age, she was able to stay with her mother, and they managed to survive the cold, disease and hunger. Before transport, the diary and drawings were given to her uncle at Terezin, who worked in the records department and bricked the documents in the walls of the barracks. After the war, she subsequently edited and added the sections on the concentration camps, all carefully documented here.

Weiss’ moving eyewitness portrait adds a deepening to the understanding of the Jews’ plight during this horrific period in history.

Pub Date: April 22nd, 2013
ISBN: 978-0-393-07797-1
Page count: 240pp
Publisher: Norton
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1st, 2013


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