Young French woman Hélène Berr was bursting with joie d’ vivre at Paris Sorbonne studying Russian and English literature, playing the violin when swastikas and jackboots advanced from the Rhineland across Europe. Tragically for Berr, she was also Jewish.
The remarkable young woman began to keep journals, intimate and profound records of her fellow students, her loves, her passions and the hatred she battled. In 1944, Berr and her family were sent to the Auschwitz concentration camp. She was later transferred to Bergen-Belsen, where she died just five days before the camp was liberated.
Following her death, Berr’s diary was released to her former fiancé, Jean Morawiecki, who was a member of the French Resistance. It was finally published in 2008, where the first 24,000 copies sold out in two days and earned Berr the title of “the French Anne Frank.”
A traveling exhibition based on her journal has arrived at the Marnie and John Burke Memorial Library on the Spring Hill College campus. Utilizing archival photos, films and interactive animations, the exhibit shows the daily lives of Jews in the era. Curated by Karen Taieb and Sophie Nagiscarde, it was designed, created and circulated by Mémorial de la Shoah (Paris, France), and made possible through the generous support of French rail system SNCF.
The exhibit will be open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays; 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Thursdays; 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturdays; and 2 to 6 p.m. on Sundays. Docent-led tours are available.
Copies of Berr’s book will for sale at the circulation desk for $18.
For more info, call 251-380-3870 or go to http://library.shc.edu.
Hélène Berr, A Stolen Life
Where: Spring Hill College Library
When: Through Aug. 10