Friday, October 21, 2011

Helga Weiss´diary: her life in Auschwitz will be published

Helga Weiss during the war
Removing the third tier of bunks before the Red Cross visit. Sketch by Helga Weissova

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When Jewish schoolgirl Helga Weiss was ordered off the train at Auschwitz in 1944, she was destined for death in the gas chambers - along with all the others considered too young or too old to work.
But instead of being killed, Helga, not long in her teens, managed to convince 'Angel of Death' doctor Josef Mengele she was older and fit to work.
Almost 70 years after she gave one of the most reviled Nazis the slip, the story of the Czech teenager - now a celebrated artist - is to be told for the first time in a new book.
Mengele would hold the power of life and death over the Jews sent to the camp - sending the weakest off to the left and unwittingly into the gas chambers where they would meet their end.
The strongest would go to the right for forced labour but survival.
Although the other children were killed, Helga was spared by the SS officer, who sent her to a work camp.
His snap decision saved her life, and at the end of the war she was freed.
Miss Weiss, who went on to become a famous artist in the Czech Republic, and is now in her 80s, will have her war memoirs published around the world.

Arriving at Terezin. By Helga Weissova
Helga Weissova-Hoskova

She kept a diary jotted down in school exercise books of her time spent in concentration camps during the war.
The book, Helga's Diary - sold to publishers at the Frankfurt book fair - has been likened to the diary of Anne Frank.
It will come out in Britain next year.
After persuading the death camp officer to save her, Miss Weiss moved back to her home city of Prague after the war.
Although she found fame with her artwork, her war diaries were little known.
Helga was sent to live in a ghetto by the Nazis in Terezin, Czechoslovakia, at the start of the diary which begins in 1939.
She tells the story of her grim life - and how freedom was gradually curtailed before she was shipped off to Auschwitz with her mother in 1944.
Helga - who is now married and uses the surname Weissova-Hoskova - told the Observer during a visit to London last year that life under the Nazis got progressively worse before she was shipped off to the death camp.
'One thing after another was forbidden: employees lost their jobs, we were banned from the parks, swimming pools, sports clubs.
'I was banned from going to school when I was 10,' she said.
'I was always asking my parents, "What's happening?", and became angry at them if I thought they were trying to hide something, to protect me.'
She arrived at Auschwitz on October 4, 1944, where Dr Mengele was deciding who to kill and who should be given labour.
After tricking the reviled doctor into thinking she was old enough to work, Helga was sent to Flossenbürg where she was forced to work.
Of around 15,000 children from Terezin sent to Auschwitz, it is believe between 150 and 1,500 survived.
Although Helga has admitted in the past that she kept a war journal, it had never been published before.
Helga's Diary (published by Viking) is out on June 7 next year.
Lea sobre la vida de Helga Weiss durante el holocausto, en español:


  1. Impresionante, Myriam. Ya quiero leerlo.
    Todos estos documentos me interesan porque la fuerza de las personas que sobreviven me parecen casi sobrenaturales. Las admiro profundamente.
    Y siento una empatía hacia los judíos muy fuerte y hacia cualquier pueblo que se haya encontrado en las mismas condiciones.
    Gracias siempre por compartir tus conocimientos.

  2. Gracias Nicole por tus comentarios :) Para empezar, hay otro libro que creo es similar o al menos una autobiografía en los campos de concentración, se llama Los HOrnos de Hitler, buscá el post en mi blog con el buscador a la derecha. Abajo tenés el link para leerlo on line,
    un beso,


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