An unusually probing, sensitive, and eloquent diary of incarceration
Essential to a better understanding of Herzberg’s essays are his diary entries from Bergen-Belsen, first published in 1950 and later in English as Between Two Streams.
After internment in The Netherlands by the German occupier, he and his wife Thea were transported to Bergen-Belsen. Unlike most Holocaust witnesses, in his diary, Herzberg not only described what happened there but made a start on understanding how such a hell could exist.
‘It’s not that six million Jews were murdered. A Jew was murdered six million times.’
During the final months of the War, Bergen-Belsen became so overwhelmed with ever more thousands of Jews moved there with the retreating German army, dying in ever greater numbers than the authorities could manage, that in desperation they filled a train with Jews for transport eastwards. Thea and Abel Herzberg were on the train. It was stopped by the Red Army at Tröbitz near Leipzig.
Herzberg’s diary ends shortly before his arrival there. His modern, unadorned style and clarity of thought have moved generations of readers ever since.