Hélène Berr et l'écriture de l'histoire

in French Politics, Culture & Society
Author: Nathan Bracher
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The present article argues that Hélène Berr's Journal goes well beyond mere testimony to provide an astute analysis not only of the persecutory measures, arrests, camps, and deportations but also of the various attempts to camouflage the violence and even of the wider implications of what she ultimately recognized to be a systematic extermination. Hélène Berr thus presents an extraordinary case of a young French Jewish student at the Sorbonne who, steeped in literature but untrained in history, nevertheless achieved a degree of historical lucidity that, in view of the confused, limited, and often unreliable information available to her in Nazi-occupied Paris, we can only consider as remarkable. Above all, Hélène Berr's very personal confrontation with history, as it unfolded in all the sinister complexity of what we now know as the Holocaust, enables us to better understand these events in the human terms in which they were experienced and with the ethical dimensions that they take on for us today.

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