Monday, May 28, 2018
From Day to Day: One Man's Diary of Survival in Nazi Concentration Camps 1st Edition by Odd Nansen (Author), Timothy J. Boyce (Editor) (Vanderbilt University Press)
We owe a debt of gratitude to Tim Boyce and Vanderbilt University Press for bringing this remarkable work back into print. The thoughtful historical annotations underscore Nansen’s credibility and validate the images and events portrayed in the secret diary. As the child of Holocaust survivors, I recognize the importance of first-hand witnesses in Holocaust education. Holocaust survivors are nearly gone, dying of old age and leaving a vacuum that threatens to be filled by Holocaust deniers. This book is an antidote. Odd Nansen had a gift for translating both mundane and horrific observations with an uncanny lilt and unwavering candor. His words seem to flow with other-worldly clarity and his sardonic style can also be appreciated in his documentary sketches. By telling his own experiences and recounting reports he elicited from newly arriving prisoners, he has provided a singular personal account of the progress of World War II. The result is a remarkably readable epic that should be passed on to future generations.
Not only is Odd Nansen's diary engrossing, Timothy Boyce's introduction and detailed footnotes make the read even more fascinating. As soon as I began reading Mr. Boyce's introduction, I knew he had committed himself to a painstaking project that benefits the reader. His introduction sets the stage for what is to come and gives the reader the historical perspective to begin to understand the politics and reality of Norway during WWII. I am halfway through Odd Nansen's diary and read every footnote written by Mr. Boyce. These make the diary more chilling and real-they do take time to read and take in, but I have been so moved by them in the book, I wanted to encourage the reading community to read this newly edited diary-including the footnotes. Odd Nansen's original drawings brings the brutality right in front of us as well as a glimpse of grace to an otherwise bleak existence. Thomas Buergenthal's preface is moving and shows how one person can make a difference. If comfronted with such a dire situation as both Odd Nansen and Thomas Buergenthal faced while imprisoned in Nazi concentration camps, I hope I too would have the ability to be kind and compassionate to others. This is an ongoing lesson for all of