Christen's Reviews > The Journal of Hélène Berr

The Journal of Hélène Berr by Hélène Berr
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Feb 18, 09

bookshelves: discussion-books, non-fiction, wwii, historical-fiction
Recommended to Christen by: ReadingGroupGuides.com
Read in February, 2009

It was very interesting "watching" this time frame (1942-44) from the viewpoint of someone experiencing it at the time, versus a fiction story where the author knows the eventual outcome.

The racism against the Jews was so gradual and incremental, it was hard to see the final outcome coming.

The whole journal was really good and these are a few of the passages/thoughts that stood out to me:

pg. 201: "When I arrived at home, I found another postcard from that unfortunately P.O.W. who asked me if I had made any progress in my inquiries about his twelve-year old son, about whom he has heard nothing for more than a year."

pg. 202: "The Germans, for their part, have been subjected to a process of restupidification for a generation now (it's a recurrent phenomenon). They have no intelligence left at all. But we could have hoped it might be different among us." [The whole page is good:]

pg. 204: "Can those people speak of Christian charity when precisely what they do not know is the meaning of fraternity and human sympathy? Do they have the right to claim to be the heirs of Christ, of that Christ who was the greatest socialist the world has known, and whose doctrine was founded on equality and brotherhood? They don't have any idea what brotherhood is." [This statement refers to her fellow Frenchmen who either turn a blind eye to events or even participate:].

pg. 246: "What a shame that one half of humanity is manufacturing evil and a tiny minority is trying to put it right!"

I also enjoyed reading about the roundup of the French Jews by the French police force (I shouldn't say "enjoyed", but it was interesting hearing about it from a first hand point of view. Especially after having just read "Sarah's Key" this summer.).

Helene Berr was an amazing, brave woman. Many, many lives of Jewish children were saved by her efforts. I am glad her journal was published so that she can get the credit she deserves and that people can celebrate who she was and what she stood for. She deserves to live on in history.

My only complaint is that I would have appreciated more footnotes and more information about what became of the survivors (her sister and neice, fiance, etc.).
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