The Diary Keepers

Nina Siegal



Nazi Germany attacked the Netherlands without warning oFriday, May 10, 1940. In spite of hard fighting by Dutch forces it took a mere five days for the unprepared country to fall to the Blitzkrieg. The Dutch Queen and her government fled into exile in England, and the German Occupation began. Dutch people from all walks of life and political persuasions created records of their wartime experiencesAnne Frank among them—following a 1944 broadcast appeal by exiled Dutch Minister for Education, Gerrit Bolkestein.

. . . excellent use of the archival materials . . .

Among the entries recorded in The Diary Keepers are those from a Dutch Nazi policeman, a Jewish journalist, a grocery store owner, and a Nazi-sympathizing socialite. It should be noted that some names are aliases, as Dutch law protects the descendants of those who collaborated with the Nazi occupiers. A number of the entries are deeply harrowing, recounting how Jews and others hated by the Nazis were forced to give up all they had and, in so many cases, their lives to satisfy Hitler’s insane vision. Some entries are inspiring accounts of great sacrifices by ordinary people to help others escape the atrocities.

The Netherlands was liberated on May 5, 1945. Work to collect and preserve wartime diaries began just three days later.

Author Nina Siegal has made excellent use of the archival materials held by the NIOD Institute for War, Holocaust and Genocide Studies in Amsterdam to create this remarkable and important account. The sheer human cost of war, the pettiness, the brutality, the hopeful endurance, and the incidents of sublime heroism come through clearly in this warning from history.