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Abel J. Herzberg

Abel J. Herzberg was born in Amsterdam in 1893, the son of Russian emigrants. He worked as a lawyer until his death in 1989. He wrote plays and novels, many about Biblical characters (Saul, Herod, Jacob and Joseph), but is best known for his highly personal essays and memoirs Amor fati (1946) and Between Two Streams (1950).

He also wrote Chronicle of the Persecution of the Jews (1950), which deals with the German occupation of the Netherlands. In the collection, Om een lepel soep (For a Spoonful of Soup; 1972), he presented a series of unforgettable glimpses of the human weaknesses he encountered in his life-long work as a lawyer. In 1972 he was awarded the P.C. Hooft Prize for his oeuvre, the highest award of Dutch letters.

Amor fati

Amor fati

(Querido, 1946)

Amor Fati, the collection of essays that Abel Herzberg (1893-1989) published in 1946 include some of the earliest and most impressive reflections on the Holocaust. Their analytical profundity and clarity of perception places them among the greatest works of Holocaust literature, on a par with those of Tadeusz Borowski, Primo Levi and Elie Wiesel.

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Tweestromenland

Tweestromenland

(Querido, 1950)

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.

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Brieven aan mijn kleinzoon

Brieven aan mijn kleinzoon

(Querido, 1964, 127 pagina's)

Who is Chaim Finkelstein from Bialystok? A nobody, because he is a refugee and an immigrant. And so he must first become a somebody. He must learn to look upon his new country as home and realise that his origins have to become past history. To remind his grandson of his origins, Abel J. Herzberg writes how all this has happened to his family.

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