The Diary of Mary Berg by Mary Berg

Genre: Nonfiction, diary
Secondary Genre: History
CW: Holocaust, violence, illness, starvation
Rep: Jewish, Polish

This book is extremely hard to read. It is the account of a young woman living in the Warsaw Ghetto over a 2 year period, and doesn’t shy away from the horrors residents faced. My 4 star rating isn’t a measure of how “good” this book is, or how “well written” it is; I reserve my 5 star ratings for books I know I will read over and over again, but this book was hard enough to get through once because of the subject matter; it’s not something I can see myself re-reading, though it impacted me greatly.

I was reading this book when George Floyd was killed. That night, I read the account of a starving Jewish man beaten to death by Nazis.

The world has not changed.

Mary and her family managed to escape the Ghetto and get to America just in time. While they were on their long journey out of Poland, the Ghetto was emptied and most of the residents murdered. The Berg’s were saved by the fact that Mary’s mother was an American citizen; through a combination of red tape and extensive bribes, she managed to get passports for her two daughters and her husband, and the four of them managed to get to the US, where Mary published her diary in the hopes that it would draw attention to what the Jews were facing in Nazi territory. Prior to Germany’s surrender, the extent of their torture was unknown to the outside world. Mary hoped her diary would save lives, but it’s publication went largely unnoticed.

This is not a book to be picked up lightly. But I highly recommend that you do. It’s not a book to reread. But it is one that should be read at least once.