France finds its own Anne Frank as young Jewish woman's war diary hits the shelves





It starts like any other young woman's diary - with a description of hobbies, a first boyfriend, schoolmates and trips to the country - but it ends like few others. The final words are 'the horror, the horror, the horror'.

This week The Journal of Helene Berr will arrive in French bookshops. The harrowing story of a young Jewish girl in occupied Paris, will be, according to the newspaper Liberation, 'the publishing sensation of 2008'. Two years ago, an account by another French Jewish writer, Irene Nemirovsky, who died in Auschwitz, sold hundreds of thousands of copies and sparked a fierce debate.

With her family, Berr, died in the concentration camps, among the 70,000 Jews deported from France in the Second World War, often with the help of the French police or officials.

'We thought everything had already been said on the Jews under the German Occupation,' said Michel Lafitte, a French historian who described the journal as 'incredibly rich'.

Berr, already being dubbed 'France's Anne Frank', is very different from both her Dutch counterpart and Nemirovsky. Her manuscript lay untouched for 50 years before being discovered by archivists from France's Holocaust Museum.


comments powered by Disqus