The Journal of Helene Berr
Through her personal journal, written in Paris at the time of the Second World War, we come to know the story of Hélène Berr. Her niece, Mariette Job, tells the moving story of her aunt’s every-day life and, to a certain extent, that of Parisian Jews during the two-year German occupation.
The journal begins in the early 1940s; at this time, Hélène Berr is a young Jewish girl, full of life, studious and passionate about English literature. On April 7, 1942, she starts writing a journal, in which she reveals the stories of her life experiences, her friendships, her loves, her studies at Sorbonne and her travels to the countryside: those were happy days in Paris. As more and more anti-Jewish laws are imposed in France, her amazement for the simple things in life gives way to the reality of the situation and to the dismay of the cruel actions inflicted on her people.
The first journal entry dates from April 7, 1942, upon her return from a trip to visit Paul Valéry; the last entry, from February 15, 1944, ends with a quote from Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness: “Horror! Horror! Horror!” Hélène Berr was arrested soon after and taken away to the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp.
Hélène’s niece found the journal, which the young woman left with the Berr’s family cook, requesting that it be given to her fiancé. He later made Mariette Job legatee of this manuscript and she eventually gave it to the Memorial of the Shoah in Paris in 2002. Six years later, it was published and made available to the public.
Saturday, November 22, 2008, 7:30 p.m.
Saint Paul University Auditorium
223 Main St. Ottawa, ON K1S 1C4
$10 for members and students, $15 for pre-purchased tickets, $20 for tickets at the door