Sioux Falls Atheists
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Sioux Falls Atheists endorse The Journal of Helene Berr for her
incredible courage in the face of real evil and almost certain death.

The Journal of Helene Berr
by Helene Berr

The Journal of Helene Berr (2009) - 304 pages
The Journal of Helene Berr at

Not since The Diary of Anne Frank has there been such a book as this: The joyful but ultimately heartbreaking journal of a young Jewish woman in occupied Paris, now being published for the first time, 63 years after her death in a Nazi concentration camp.

A significant contribution to history, The Journal of Helene Berr is a heart-breaking story of a heroic young woman whose indomitable spirit thrived in the face of prejudice and war. The work of a stunningly talented writer, Helene's journal is both an intensely moving, intimate document, and text of astonishing literary accomplishment.

From April 1942 to February 1944, Helene Berr, a recent graduate of Sorbonne, kept a journal of her life in Nazi-occupied Paris, seeking refuge from the harsh realities of being a Jew under the Vichy regime. With her friends and fellow students, Helene plays the violin and escapes the everyday in what she calls the "selfish magic" of English literature and poetry. Although she comes from a privileged and sophisticated family - her father is a decorated French officer of the First World War and the distinguished director of a large chemical company - she begins to be assailed by anxieties. With difficulty, Helene keeps to what routine she can: studying, reading, enjoying the beauty of Paris, and looking after the children of arrested Jewish families.

Helene writes of literature, music, love, and the beauty of her city, striving to remain calm and rational even as tragedy closes in. But as anti-Semitic ordinances are passed and rumors of mass exterminations surface, we bear witness to the shift in Helene's world and inner life.

In 1944, Helene and her parents were arrested and sent to Drancy. On her twenty-third birthday they were taken by train to Auschwitz, where her parents died within six months. Helene was forced to march to Bergen-Belsen, where she died in April 1945, just days before British troops arrived to liberate the camp.

Entrusted by Helene to her family's longtime cook before she was taken away, Helene's journal survived as a family heirloom over the years until her niece recently decided to share it with the world. A devastatingly lucid account of one of history's darkest moments, it has become an instant classic. Translated and published in more than fifteen countries, The Journal of Helene Berr - now available in English for the first time - is a treasure at last found.

David Bellos won the Man Booker International Translator's prize for his translations of the Albanian writer Ismail Kadare. He is the translator and biographer of Georges Perec, and also the author of biographies of Jacques Tati and Romain Gary. He is a professor of French and Comparative Literature at Princeton University.

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The Journal of Helene Berr
By Helene Berr

Sioux Falls Atheists endorse The Journal of Helene Berr for her
incredible courage in the face of real evil and almost certain death.