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Sydney, Australia, October 22, 2004
Shades of Anne
Frank in Dutch prison camp diary
A NEWLY-discovered diary of a
young Jewish woman has shed a haunting glimpse on
her life in a Dutch prison camp in World War II
before she was sent to her death, in an echo of the
"Even though everybody is very nice to me, I
feel so lonely. Every day we see freedom from
behind barbed wire," Helga Deen wrote in
extracts made public this week by archivists in
Tilburg, in the southern Netherlands.
She wrote the diary in 1943, at the age of 18,
after she was taken to the Vught detention centre
London, Saturday October 23,
Jew's wartime book takes France by
SIXTY-two years after its author died
in the gas chambers of Auschwitz, a
remarkable and previously unpublished
wartime work by an emigré Russian
Jew in France has taken the world of
publishing by storm. [...]
Némirovsky, died of
The Daily Telegraph,
London, Saturday October 23,
victim's book causes a stir in
By Colin Randall
[...] Despite appeals to the
German ambassador to Paris and Marshal
Petain, the leader of the puppet Vichy
regime, she was arrested by gendarmes and
deported to Auschwitz in July 1942, dying
of typhus a month later at the age of 39.
Dead is dead. But
gas-chamber sells more books than typhus.
What does this tell us, fundamental, about
the gas chamber statistics of
It recalls the document left behind by Anne
Frank, another teenager living in the
German-occupied Netherlands, which was published
after her death and has since become a potent
symbol of the Holocaust, the Nazi slaughter of
millions of Jews.
Helga Deen was a pupil at a Tilburg secondary
school when she was arrested and taken to Vught,
which was infamous in the Netherlands as a transit
camp on the way to Nazi death camps in Germany and
"This is an extraordinary find. Very few diaries
have been written in the camps because of the
conditions of life there," David Barnouw of
the Dutch NIOD institute for war documentation told
"If diaries were written in the camps they were
rarely recovered, because people's luggage was
taken away when they were deported," he
Deen's diary is only the third so-called camp
journal discovered in the Netherlands, and the
first written by a woman.
In it, she wrote about how the prisoners were
deloused and children put on transport.
The diary shows how desperation slowly set in.
In an excerpt dated June 6, 1943, just after 1,300
children were deported to Auschwitz
death camps in Poland, she wrote:
"Transport. It is too much. I am broken
and tomorrow it will happen again. But I want to
(persevere), I want to because if my happiness
... and willpower die, I too will die."
Deen, who wrote the journal for her boyfriend,
hoped she could escape the transports through work,
but was told in early July 1943 that her family
would be on the next train.
"Packing, this morning a child dying
which upset me completely. Another transport and
this time we will be on it," she wrote.
It was her last diary entry.
Deen was deported to Sobibor, where she was
recorded as having died on July 16, 1943 together
with her parents and her brother.
the diary was smuggled out of the detention camp
and survived all these years is "an absolute
mystery," according to the Tilburg archivists.
The journal was brought in by the son of Helga's
wartime boyfriend Kees van den Berg. He
found the green notebook with diary entries in
pencil in a brown purse together with a lock of
hair and a fountain pen.
"The purse was like a religious relic for my
father. Nobody could touch it," Van den Berg's son
Conrad told the Brabants Dagblad paper.
Deen's diary will be shown to the public at an
open day on October 30. The Tilburg archive is
looking into publishing it in May next year.
"We will celebrate the 60th anniversary of the
liberation and that will be a good moment to
publish the journal," Gerrit Kobes of the
Tilburg archives told the Dutch ANP news
Anne Frank's diary tells of her own family's two
years of life in hiding in occupied Amsterdam
before they were arrested and transported across
Europe. She died in March 1945 aged 15.