Chava Rosenfarb’s Early Life Writing: “Bergen-Belsen Diary, 1945”

Ruth Panofsky


This essay analyses Chava Rosenfarb’s Bergen-Belsen diary as a work of life writing that pays meticulous attention to details of voice, craft, and narrative development. Suffering gave her a subject and Rosenfarb turned to the diary as a means of recording and coming to terms with a life irrevocably altered by tremendous loss. That artistry shaped a work produced in the immediate aftermath of the Holocaust confirms that Rosenfarb was first and always a writer. Moreover, that her writerly persona—not her actual person—emerged intact and mature from the unmitigated trauma of the death camp is evidence that writing was a source of solace and hope that helped carry her through to survival.

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