When Germany invaded Poland in 1939, Halina Nelken was a precocious fifteen-year-old, living a middle-class life in Krakow. Like other girls her age, she recorded her personal observations and feelings in a diary. As conditions in Krakow deteriorated and her family was forced into the Jewish ghetto, she continued to write, eventually smuggling her diary out with a Catholic friend. This remarkable book tells the story of Nelken's experiences in the ghetto and later in eight Nazi concentration camps, including Plaszow, Auschwitz, and Ravensbrock. Her diary entries, written between 1938 and 1943, form the core of the volume and are supplemented by recollections written shortly after the war, and by later commentaries and explanatory notes which she added in the mid-1980s. Although there exist numerous published and unpublished memoirs by Holocaust survivors, Nelken's book presents one of the few extant diaries written at the time. Already released in Polish and German editions, it has been hailed as one of the finest works of its kind. Now it is available in English for the first time.
"The book Anne Frank might have written had she survived the Holocaust. Halina Nelken was born into a middle-class and erudite Jewish family in Cracow. As a young girl, she experienced the Nazi invasion of Poland and life both in the Jewish ghetto and in several concentration camps. Her journal accounts of these times are detailed and riveting. Yet what distinguishes And Yet, I Am Here are the reflections Nelken, the adult, makes on her adolescent experience. In blending a nightmarish past with an apparently normal present, Nelken creates an eerily compelling context for her Holocaust memoir." - Boston Magazine "Although the experiences of Holocaust survivors traditionally have been represented by Anne Frank and Elie Wiesel, Nelken offers a third approach to Holocaust studies that blends diary entries, postwar reflections, and an academician's critique. Drawing from her diary composed over the six-year period 1938-1943. Nelken intersperses occasional comments and reminders of the greater historical context into the text. As a contribution to survivor literature, her work has the making of a classic." - Choice "Nelken's diary is one of the most important to survive from the Second World War. Written by a young girl from a protected and privileged background, it gives a unique and moving account of the Nazi occupation and of the experience of the camps of Plaszow and Auschwitz...There are many memoirs and diaries of the Holocaust, but few with such immediacy and with such a genuine voice" - Antony Polonsky, Brandeis University"