In Pictures: Hélène Berr Exhibit Opening

The Goethe-Zentrum Atlanta flung its doors open last week for its first major event of the year – the opening of our new exhibit ‘Hélène Berr: A Stolen Life.’

Hèlène Berr

Hèlène Berr

Around 130 people packed into the auditorium to hear speeches from dignitaries from around the world before taking a tour around the exhibit. All in all it was a fantastic event! If you were there maybe you can spot yourself on some of our pictures!

Hélène Berr was a French woman, born in Paris and of Jewish faith. She studied Russian and English literature and was also an active member of the ‘General Organization of Jews in France.’ Hélène began writing her diary on 7 April, 1942, documenting her life during the war and the anti-Semitism towards Jews. Along with her parents, she was captured on March 8, 1944 and taken to Drancy Internment camp before being moved to the Auschwitz concentration camp on 27 March, 1944. In November 1944, she was transferred to Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, where she died in April 1945, just 5 days before the liberation of the camp. The exhibition documents her life through her diaries.

The evening started when our Executive Director Miriam Bruns, joined forces with the Executive Director of or neighbors the Alliance Française, Hélène Couralt-Touré, to welcome the audience and introduce the exhibit and speakers.

First up was The Hon. Denis Barbet, the Consul General of France in Atlanta and The Hon. Christoph Sander, the Consul General of the Federal Republic of Germany in Atlanta who spoke about the importance of remembering the Holocaust and learning about young victims like Hélène Berr. With the event also commemorating the 51st anniversary of the Elyseé Treaty, both discussed the importance of maintaining the relationship between Germany and France and adhering to the framework of the Treaty.

Next up was Sally N. Levine, Executive of the Georgia Commission on the Holocaust, who gave an incredible speech about the similarities and differences between Hélène Berr and Anne Frank. She shared the lives and diaries of both young women, going on to compare their lives – both had fathers who were successful businessmen, they both passed away at Bergen-Belsen, and, most importantly, they kept diaries documenting their experiences knowing others would read it. But, she pointed out, those were the only similarities between the two and their lives and experiences were very different. Hélène Berr was older, she studied at Sorbonne, and she had a Fiancé. Her family was captured and like Anne Frank, she was transported to concentration camps and eventually to Bergen-Belsen where her life would end. Berr wrote the diary hoping that her Fiancé would read it. Her diary was published much later than Anne Frank’s, this is because Hélène’s Fiancé kept the diary until 2002 when her niece decided to track him down to get it published, this finally took place in 2008. Ms. Levine also demonstrated the importance of the diaries to the lives and feelings of the Holocaust survivors.

Jacques Fredj of the Memorial de la Shoah also said a few words before both Miriam and Hélène invited guests to stay for a small reception and to walk through to exhibit which will be on display until March 15, 2014. So if you missed out on the event, there’s still time to check it out! And if you ask us, it’s well worth taking a look!

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Posted on January 28, 2014, in What's Happened? and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

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