DIARY OF BERGEN BELSEN, 1944–1945
She also kept a diary, one of the best for understanding daily life in the camps, full of everyday details about transport by boxcar, barracks life, roll calls, distribution of food, common camp sicknesses, disposal of corpses; about guards, kapos, and collaborators; and about human nature as revealed in extreme circumstances. A foreword and afterword tell about Hanna’s life before and after the camp.
“Bergen-Belsen represents the final stage of the Holocaust. At the end of the war, forced laborers too weak to work, Jews from neutral countries, and survivors of death marches from Auschwitz and other camps were dumped together under impossible conditions. After the gas chambers in the death camps were closed down, mass murder continued at Bergen-Belsen through other means. In March 1945, the final month before liberation, nearly 20,000 prisoners died there. Levy-Hass described this form of genocide in her diary: the slow, vile, calculated destruction by hunger, violence, terror, and deliberately sustained epidemics. Her rare description of the final months of the Holocaust is marked by political consciousness, moral understanding, and perceptive observation. Levy-Hass has much to tell us of death and survival.”
—Steve Hochstadt, historian, Illinois College; author, author, Sources of the Holocaust
“A compelling document of historic importance which shows, with remarkable composure, that ethical thought about what it means to be human can be sustained in the most inhuman conditions. Hanna Lvy-Hass teaches us how a politics of compassion and justice can rise out of the camps as the strongest answer to the horrors of the twentieth century.”
—Jacqueline Rose, historian, Queen Mary University of London; author, The Question of Zion
There are many testimonies of the Nazi concentration and extermination camps, but very few have the quality and the strength of this diary from Bergen-Belsen by Hanna Lvy-Hass. A Jew and a member of the Resistance, Lvy-Hass belongs to the group of detainees thatas Primo Levi emphasized in The Drown and the Savedhad the resources to preserve their humanity against the planned annihilation by the Nazi machine…. The history of the Holocaust is often reduced to a simple conflict between the persecutors and their victims, but it was a much more complex process. It was also the history of the struggle against the barbarism of Twentieth century: and that is the reason why this diary is so important to us.
–Enzo Traverso, historian, University of Picardie, France; author, The Origins of Nazi Violence
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