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Holocaust Memoirs of a Bergen-Belsen Survivor

Title:Holocaust Memoirs of a Bergen-Belsen Survivor
Writer:Blitz Konig, N.
Published:Amsterdam Publishers
Published in:2018

Nanette Blitz Konig was a classmate of Anne Frank who, together with her family, was captured by the Nazis and taken to camp Westerbork in the Netherlands, much like the Frank family. There are many similarities between Anne and Nanette; both were around the same age, came from a middle class family, and both ended up in Bergen-Belsen. The biggest difference between the two is the fact that Nanette survived to tell about the horrors that transpired while Anne died during the first quarter of 1945 in Bergen-Belsen.

The reason Blitz decided to write this book is not to invite the reader to read a story with a happy ending but to encourage readers, through the story, to be alert and pursue a life filled with peace and harmony. For they who don’t remember the past are doomed to repeat it.

Blitz describes the gradual change that caused Jews in the Netherlands to become more and more isolated under Nazi rule. Even though she herself had the feeling that things were heading in the wrong direction, people around her reassured her until the harsh and cruel reality struck there as well. The Frank family hid in the Achterhuis to avoid being captured by the Nazis, but Nanette’s family kept living at home, enduring humiliation after humiliation by the Nazis until one day in September 1943 she heard loud pounding on the front door, and they were taken away.

The Konig family arrived at Westerbork where they had their first experiences with the concentration camp system. What they didn’t know is that they would end up in a camp that would be far more gruesome.

While Anne Frank and her family took the last train to Auschwitz from Westerbork, Nanette’s family got onto the train to Bergen-Belsen. The conditions there were shockingly bad and rapidly getting worse, as Germany was losing the war and the camp was being flooded with thousands of prisoners from other concentration camps, which were being liberated by the Russians.

Anne Frank and her sister Margot ended up in Bergen-Belsen this way as well. By now it’s the end of 1944 and Bergen-Belsen is completely overpopulated and the amenities are extremely insufficient. People are lying dead or are dying everywhere on the ground. The other prisoners are immensely malnourished, ill and covered in lice. One of them is Anne Frank, on the day she meets Nanette. It turned out to be one of the final good moments in Anne’s life, because after meeting a few times, Nanette waited for Anne who didn’t show up. She wouldn’t come back; she and Margot died shortly after each other, which Nanette only finds out later.

Meanwhile Nanette’s father perished and her brother and mother were transported to different places (Nanette would never see them again). Nanette is left alone, more dead than alive, to experience the liberation of Bergen-Belsen. After the war she tried to move on with her life but she will always feel the scars that the war left on her.

Every book that has been written by an eyewitness and/or survivor of the Holocaust is one to be treasured. Such is this book by Blitz-Konig. It is remarkable that Nanette is one of the last survivors who has actually seen and spoken to Anne Frank in the last phase of Anne’s life, which gives Blitz-Konig a significant place in the history of the Holocaust, although that might not have been her intention at all. All she wants is for humanity to stay alert and ensure that there won’t be a new chapter of the Holocaust in historiography.

Rating: Very good


Translated by:
Frank Hermans
Article by:
John Smeets
Published on:
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