A new memoir by Berthe Meijer, a Holocaust survivor who, at the age of six, was an inmate at Bergen Belsen along with Anne Frank, “continues the tale of Holocaust victims where the famous diary leaves off.”
The major focus of the memoir, however, is the long reach of trauma. Despite the fact that Meijer fulfilled many of Anne Frank’s dreams by becoming a journalist and author, she says she has suffered with lifelong symptoms of post-traumatic stress as memories continue to haunt her to this day. For example, she says, sliding a finger along a pan to collect sauce triggers the memory of licking a cooking vat when she was starving in the camps. In addition, she has a deep fear of crowds and public transportation.
“The dividing line is where the diary of Anne Frank ends,” Meijer told The Associated Press at her Amsterdam home. “Because then you fall into a big black hole.”
In history books, she adds,”the war ends when we were liberated. No. Not for a lot of people. Not for the lives of the people who survived those camps or went into hiding or had traumatic experiences because of that war.
“Those things, they don’t go away.”