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From Day to Day

0 Comments 🕔09.Aug 2016

From Day to Day: One Man’s Diary of Survival in Nazi Concentration Camps, by Odd Nansen, edited by Timothy J. Boyce (Vanderbilt University Press, 2016).

In 1942, Norwegian Odd Nansen was arrested by the Nazis, and he spent the remainder of World War II in concentration camps—Grini in Oslo, Veidal above the Arctic Circle, and Sachsenhausen in Germany. For three and a half years, Nansen kept a secret diary on tissue-paper-thin pages later smuggled out by various means, including inside the prisoners’ hollowed-out breadboards.

Unlike writers of retrospective Holocaust memoirs, Nansen recorded the mundane and horrific details of camp life as they happened, “from day to day.” With an unsparing eye, Nansen described the casual brutality and random terror that was the fate of a camp prisoner. His entries reveal his constantly frustrated hopes for an early end to the war, his longing for his wife and children, his horror at the especially barbaric treatment reserved for Jews, and his disgust at the anti-Semitism of some of his fellow Norwegians. Nansen often confronted his German jailors with unusual outspokenness and sometimes with a sense of humor and absurdity that was not appreciated by his captors.

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