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BOOK REVIEW


New edition of The Diary of Mary Berg, published Spring 2007, edited by Susan Pentlin*

On her fifteenth birthday, with the German army pouring into Warsaw, Mary Berg began her personal diary. From the siege of Warsaw to the final, brutal suppression of the Ghetto Uprising, she records in vivid detail the plight of the refugees, the life of the “Golden Youth,” the forced conscription, the deportations, and the heroism and resistance at the forefront of the fight against German oppression. Rescued with her family through an Allied prisoner exchange, carefully hidden among her possessions were twelve small notebooks of her diary. Less than a year later, its wartime publication in America played a key role in making the truth known.

Now published for the first time for a worldwide audience, this is a work remarkable for its authenticity, detail, and poignancy. But it is not only as a factual report on the life and death of a people that this diary ranks with the most important documents of the Second World War. Its message is timeless, calling for an end to genocide and hate. This is the personal story of a life-loving young girl’s encounter with unparalleled human suffering, and a uniquely illuminating insight into one of the darkest chapters of history.

With an introduction and helpful endnotes, this is a beautiful edition of a unique book. S.L. Shneiderman, the original editor, was an award-winning journalist, author, editor, and essayist. The book is published by One World Publications in Oxford, U. K. and appeared in the U. K. last fall. The publication date for the United States is April 25, 2007. The book is available through amazon.com.uk and amazon.com.

Professor Susan Pentlin is Emeritus Professor of Modern Languages at the University of Central Missouri in Warrensburg, Missouri and the leading expert on this work. She has her PhD from the University of Kansas. She serves on the Board of the Midwest Center for Holocaust Education in Overland Park, Kansas and on the Program Committee of the Scholars’ Conference on the Holocaust. She is a Commissioner on the Missouri Commission on Human Rights and on the Board of the Missouri Folklore Society. She is a Fulbright Recipient and received a grant from the American Council of Learned Societies.

She has done research on Berg’s diary for the past twenty years, including research at the National Archives, She has worked with the Shneiderman family and the heirs of the original translators to bring the diary back into print. She has published articles about the diary in several encyclopedias and in “Holocaust Victims of Privilege,” in Problems Unique to the Holocaust,” Harry James Cargas, ed. Lexington: University of Kentucky, 1999. Currently efforts are continuing to bring the Berg’s Diary to publication in Israel. She is presently researching the Jewish detainees from Warsaw at the Vittel Internment Camp in France, 1941-1944 and writing the memoir of Brucha Kibel, an Auschwitz survivor from Turek, Poland who lives in Kansas City, Missouri.

*Susan Pentlin is a Remember the Women Institute Advisory Board member

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The Remember the Women Institute welcomes reviews of books pertaining to women and history for our on-line library. Please contact Dr. Rochelle G. Saidel with your inquiries.

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