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Last Updated: Wednesday, 20 October, 2004, 18:18 GMT 19:18 UK
Dutch uncover diary of Nazi camp
Helga Deen, whose detention camp diary has been discovered
The diary written by Helga Deen is a rarity - few such records survive
The diary of the dark days a Jewish teenager spent in a Nazi detention camp awaiting deportation has come to light in the Netherlands.

Helga Deen, 18, wrote the diary during the three months she spent in the camp in 1943 so her Dutch boyfriend could understand what she was experiencing.

The diary records the desperation of life in the camp and horror at watching children being sent to the death camps.

War archivists have described it as a rare and extraordinary find.

The diary echoes those of Anne Frank, who spent years in hiding from the Nazis in German-occupied Amsterdam before her family was betrayed.

Helga Deen's diary was donated to the Tilburg Regional Archive by the family of her boyfriend, Kees van den Berg, after his recent death.

Chilling and mundane

"Maybe this diary will be a disappointment to you because it doesn't contain facts," Helga wrote in the diary to Kees.

"But maybe you'll be glad that you find me in it: conflict, doubt, desperation, shyness, emptiness."

A page from the detention camp diary of Helga Deen
Packing, and this morning a child dying which upset me completely. Another transport and this time we will be on it
The last entry in the diary of Helga Deen, July 1943
Helga's writing spans the chilling and mundane aspects of life in Vught camp. She talks of delousing, the camp's kale soup, and of children being put on transport to the concentration camps.

"We are homeless, countryless and have to adjust ourselves to that way of life. What we have seen in these last months is indescribable, and for someone who hasn't been there, unimaginable," she wrote.

Helga hoped hard work might save her from deportation. But, in early July 1943, she was told her family would be on the next train.

"Packing, and this morning a child dying which upset me completely," she wrote.

"Another transport and this time we will be on it."

It was her last entry. Helga and her family were deported to Sobibor concentration camp in German-occupied Poland, where they are recorded as having died on 16 July 1943. About six million Jews are thought to have died in the Holocaust.

How the diary reached Kees is unknown, but his son told a local newspaper he kept it "like a religious relic", together with a lock of hair, until his death.

"I couldn't believe what I saw," said Tilburg archivist Gerrit Kobes. He described the diary, which also includes sketches of the camp, as unique.

Other war archivists agree the discovery is exceptional.




SEE ALSO:
Anne Frank status campaign fails
04 Oct 04  |  Europe
Victims tell of Nazi experiments
27 Jan 04  |  Europe


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