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The Diary of Mary Berg: Growing up in the Warsaw Ghetto

4.11  ·  Rating details ·  481 ratings  ·  63 reviews
• Inspiring and fascinating tale of the strength of human spirit during one of humanity’s darkest hours; • Reminiscent of both The Diary of Anne Frank, A Woman in Berlin and Suite Francaise; • Beautifully packaged in an attractive hardback, gift format for the Christmas market and containing original photographs and maps; • A unique insight from one of the few survivors of ...more
Hardcover, 350 pages
Published April 15th 2007 by Oneworld Publications (first published January 1st 1991)
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Mar 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
An incredibly moving and well written account of life in the Warsaw Ghetto. Reading this I realised that to call any survivor of that experience lucky is a complete misnomer. How can anyone feel lucky who has had to endure the murder of virtually all her friends and many members of her own family? Mary Berg survived the Warsaw Ghetto by virtue of the fact that her mother had American citizenship. She was fifteen when she entered the ghetto. This is a harrowing but brilliantly detailed account of ...more
Lisa Vegan
I can’t believe that I’d never heard of this book until recently. The first English language edition of it was published before the war ended, so early that facts and figures known at the time hadn’t caught up to the real statistics.

I have read many Holocaust books, including quite a few that included the Warsaw Ghetto and its uprising, but this account felt unique to me.

The author (real name Miram Wattenberg) wrote it from ages 15-19, and when she found freedom she then she went ba
Mar 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: world-war-ii
A tough read. Mary Berg writes exceptionally well about her experience of growing up under the yoke of the Nazis. As usual with anything Holocaust related there are many moments that leave one utterly bewildered at the cruelty human beings are capable of. I can't imagine how it must feel to wake up every day knowing you might be shot for no reason or that it might be your turn to be herded off to the gas chambers.
Linda Lipko
Feb 28, 2012 rated it it was amazing
The copy I obtained was published in 1945 and retrieved from storage from the dusty shelves of my local library.

Despite international acclaim, for many years efforts to re-publish the book never came to fruition, in 2007 it was finally re-printed.

This book was Mary Berg's attempt to open the eyes of America and the world to the brutality and barbaric horrific practices of the Nazi's upon Polish Jews.

Hers was the first accounting of the reality of the Warsaw Gh
Jan 18, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Amazing! It's important to realize that this is not a novel, but the actual diary of a young girl. At first, I thought this would be pretty comparable to Ann Frank's diary, but it was completely different. Different circumstances, different country, different people. Mary was not in hiding, but living in the Warsaw ghetto. She gives a horrifying recollection of her time in the ghetto. At several parts in the book, I literally gasped out loud. I could not believe the unimaginable circumstances de ...more
Apr 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
( "nee" Miriam Wattenberg )

I have long known of the inhumane treatment of Jewish people during the Holocaust. Yet I frequently read numerous accounts, both novels and non-fiction of this horrific period. I completed this book feeling deeply depressed and tearful. Mary Berg adeptly succeeded in capturing the inhumanity, the terror and the total waste during that time- almost better than any I had previously read.

When Mary Berg (Miriam Wattenberg) was barely 15, in December
Maja  - BibliophiliaDK ✨
It's easy to compare this book with the diary of Anne Frank - at least, that's the case before you read them both and find out how different they actually are. Sure they are both diaries written by young, jewish girls but that's as far as the similarities go. In my opinion Miriam's diary contains far worse things than Anne's does. And still Miriam was the one to survive. Her account of the life in the Warsaw Ghetto and the prison of Pawiak is far from bright. It is dark, horrorfilled and heart w ...more
Jul 19, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Not an easy book to read. But definitely a good one. It's a diary but very well written. Honest but not sentimental. Highly recommended.
Pretty much everyone has heard of the Diary of Anne Frank, but what about the diary of Mary Berg? Mary was a Polish-Jewish teenager who wrote a diary about her life in the Warsaw Ghetto. Because her mother was an American citizen, she and her family avoided deportation and were able to start a new life in America. She published her diary in book form while the war was still going on. The original Polish diary did not survive, which is a real shame.

There are many nonfiction books and
Aug 31, 2009 rated it really liked it
Well written. Found it quite fascinating since she was originally from Lodz which is where my in-laws were from. They survived the Lodz getto, primarily because they were young and healthy and able to work. They suffered a great loss of their entire families and I felt compelled to read Mary Berg's account of the experience to pay homage to them. Mary was far better off than most, including my relatives but she does state that and felt guilty because of it though there was little more that she c ...more
Feb 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
This is it - the diary that Anne Frank was not able to finish. A masterpiece by a young woman who made it out of the Warsaw Ghetto (owing to a loose familial connection to the US) but witnessed many of its horrors nonetheless and kept a diary to record them. The writing is stunning for a girl of this age. A true heart-breaker. Five stars.
Jun 03, 2012 marked it as to-read
WRB July 2008

First pubilshed in 1944 !

"A teenager's account of life in the Warsaw Ghetto 1940 to 1944"

One reader says:
Well written. Found it quite fascinating since she was originally from Lodz which is where my in-laws were from. They survived the Lodz getto, primarily because they were young and healthy and able to work. They suffered a great loss of their entire families and I felt compelled to read Mary Berg's account of the experience to pay homage
Karen Cremean
Jan 01, 2015 rated it really liked it
Several things affected me: The chronicle of events as they were happening was heinous. I could NOT wrap myself around the day to day trauma and the residents' efforts to continue a normal life, a truly VALIANT effort to be normal and to continually embrace their faith. This book disappeared in the published sense, in favor of Anne Frank's "The Diary a Young Girl". Each showed the horrific side of the war, but this one...THIS one made you look at the ugliness, cruelty and hope of it all and weep ...more
May 19, 2015 rated it it was amazing
A really extraordinary account of life in the Warsaw ghetto and then escape to America. Her survivor's guilt echoes in every word and it is difficult to read; and it seems she never found peace, but at least her words brought early attention to the plight at hand. I would definitely recommend giving this a read.
Claudia Moscovici

The Diary of Mary Berg, a Polish survivor of American origins of the Warsaw Ghetto, has recently been in the news, a feature story in The New York Times. The journal contains entries from October 1939 to March 1944, offering first-hand details about the Nazi occupation of Poland, the establishment and destruction of the Warsaw Ghetto, where nearly 400,000 Polish Jews lost their lives. Published in 1945 by L. B. Fisher, the diary initially received a lot of media coverage but went out of print in
Orinoco Womble (tidy bag and all)
Reading this book was a strange experience for me. Having heard references to the Warsaw Ghetto horror all my life, I was curious to read this diary/memoir, though Mary's experience was hardly the norm. Anne Frank was also in an "abnormal" situation as she was in hiding and only had rumours and second-hand knowledge of what went on in the outside world. While Mary "was there", in a real sense she too was at a certain remove from the experiences of "normal" ghetto residents, given the fact that h ...more
Ruth Ann
Feb 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Diary of Mary Berg: Growing Up In the Warsaw Ghetto is a true accounting by Mariam Wattenberg. She was the first one to describe, in English, events about the establishment of the Warsaw Ghetto, what everyday life was like as the horrors of living in the Ghetto increased, and the deportations to the death camp at Treblinka. (view spoiler) ...more
Jun 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The Diary of Mary Berg: Growing up in the Warsaw Ghetto by Mary Berg

This is the story of Mary berg and her family, friends and Jewish people of Poland during World War II. She tells of life living in the "Warsaw Ghetto" , transitioning to the Prisoner-of War Exchange, which ultimately got her (and her family) out of war torn Europe to the safety of The United States.

In her personal journals she tells of the special "privileges" of American-Polish citizens, to which her Mo
The Diary of Mary Berg was a hard to read kind of book. It really tells you how difficult it was growing up in the Warsaw Ghetto. Mary was nineteen in the year of 1944, in the month of March when she walked off a prisoner-of-war exchange ship from Lisbon and onto a dock in New York. She was able to go to New York by her U.S. transport which was given to her by her mother. Mary also had her set of twelve diaries that described her life and experiences in the Warsaw Ghetto. Her diaries gave very ...more
Feb 19, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: People who like WWII memoirs, history buffs
Not as compelling and engaging as other WWII memoirs I've read, but it has its interesting points nonetheless. It is interesting to get a young adult's inside perspective of the Warsaw Ghetto. Mary had a slight advantage (if one can say there is any advantage in such an awful situation) of having an American mother. That kept their family from some of the hassles that other families encountered. But, the fear and daily shortage of food, privacy, and other basic needs were still prevalent.
Joe Borg
Mar 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The story of a lucky ? girl growing up in the Warsaw Ghetto . why lucky , because she managed to be exchanged with German prisoners and left behind the horrors of the transfer to the death camps , the hunger ,starvation and the killing squads of Ukrainians,Latvians ,Lithuanians apart from the Nazis .

The anti semitism of the Poles themselves although they themselves were being sent to the camps . The Dutch stand out for their assistance even stopping the train wagons . During her stay in the Ghe
Howard Schoenfeld
A diary written by a teenager who was trapped in the Warsaw ghetto. About the same age as Anne frank. However unlike most of the people in the Warsaw Ghetto, Mary Berg's mother was born in NYC and was therefore an American Citizen. Mary writes about happenings in the Warsaw ghetto as she sees them. Her family was better off than most in the ghetto. Shortly before the deportations began. Mary and her family were sent to a prison in the ghetto and later a hotel in France to be used for a prisoner ...more
J.S. Dunn
Jul 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
Narrative nonfiction from a precocious sixteen year old whose journal entries span over three years of being trapped in the infamous Warsaw Ghetto. Precise. Pointed. Poignant. Shattering. Share this with your friends who are so openminded about open borders,

that their brains have fallen out. Here's some "co-exist" literature of the up close and personal variety. Naked torture. Doesn't get much more personal ( or up close) than that.

A lesson in multiculturalism of the GIMMETHAT variety. Your cu
Sep 26, 2014 rated it really liked it
In the last fifty years I have read many books about the Holocaust and the Warsaw Ghetto. "The Diary of Mary Berg" brought back all the horrors of that tragedy. Mary Berg was just fifteen when her ordeal started, a sensitive and talented young girl from a well-to-do family in Lodz. Her mother, Lena, was a citizen of the United States, and that fact gave her whole family protection and privileges; they were spared the total disaster awaiting so many. Not long before the destruction of the Warsaw ...more
Maria Carmo
This incredible testimony of life in the Warsaw Ghetto and the survival through the fury and rage of the second world war is definitely worth reading, because it brings yet another point of view of life in the Ghetto, the life of a previously affluent family who sees itself slowly deprived of all it was used to, but whose papers (with an American nationality) in the end manages to keep alive.
An adventure told by a mature young girl who manages to tell all in the observers way, without too
Jul 23, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: world-war-ii
Mary Berg survived the Warsaw Ghetto and so did her diary - a firsthand witness of what life during those years was like for her from age 15-19. It was interesting that I recently read The Pianist by Szpilman, and as Berg's path crosses his every now and then in the ghetto, she mentions him in her diary. Not as engaging as The Diary of Ann Frank, but Ann didn't have to face the horrors that Mary did while writing her diary. So it's less of a personal diary and more like a record of history in th ...more
Sep 03, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Teenager Mary Berg escaped the fate of many Polish Jews because her mother was an American citizen. Written for American readers, and published before the end of the war, it was intended to create a sense of urgency among Americans to act against the Nazi Holocaust. In her descriptions of daily life in Warsaw, and the deprivations of imprisonment under the Nazis, she vividly depicts the humanity of those who were lost. Naming her friends and cousins makes them real.
Sep 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Joanie by:
Mary's Berg's diary spans about 5 years of the Holocaust and its everyday events during this time in the Warsaw Ghetto that was transformed into her prison. The heartache, sadness and the visions of death were among so many things in her life.
What a great read-In fact, I read it twice before I could put it down and will probably read it many more times. The 75th Anniversary edition is one book that I will keep in my library.
Feb 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Moving Disturbing Account

This is a moving disturbing account of history. The fact that this comes from a child who grew up in the ghetto and saw first hand the suffering and the death of so many is unimaginable today. This should be required reading in schools today. This is hard lesson for the political environment we live in today.
Apr 22, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Haunting, chilling, and startlingly realistic. I have read many books about the Holocaust, but none of them that mentioned in any depths, the ghettos. I wish there was a follow-up book so I could know how her life was after this book ended. What an amazingly strong woman she was, and those that experienced what they did... I can't even imagine.
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legacy 1 3 Jan 26, 2014 04:43PM  

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There is more than one Mary Berg. Please see Mary^^Berg for the translator and Mary^^^Berg for the expert on Norman churches in Kent, England.
“The Nazis understand everything except humour.” 3 likes
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