Book Review: The Journal of Hélène Berr ****1/2
As things become worse for the city's Jews, deportations, suicides and arrests (including the temporary detention of her own father) become a litany interwoven with Hélène's determination to live as normal a life as she can while maintaining her own humanity and dignity. She becomes engaged but her fiancé flees to Free France to work against the Nazis from there, while she feels bound to remain with her family and continue her work saving Jewish children from deportation and resettling them when their parents have been arrested. After abandoning the journal for a year, she returns to it as a changed, more serious person. The entries become longer and more introspective as this courageous young woman is forced to face the likelihood of her early death and finds comfort in friends, family and the literature that she loves so much.
Hélène Berr was arrested in 1944 and died in Bergen-Belsen only a few days before its liberation, but her journal, which was kept by a friend and given to her fiancé after her death, ensures that her vital, intensely humane spirit lives on.