The Camp of the Slow Death - by Jewish prisoner Jean Jacques Bernard. Published by Victor Gollancz LTD - London, 1945 - first English edition. Early testimony of the mass murder of Jews in the death camps. Hardcover with rare original dust jacket.
"One of my friends said to me "No one will believe us", for my part I have only written the truth... Those who saw me as a walking corpse in the week after my release, I have the impression that they suddenly encountered a reality that until then had been far from their hearts... Objectivity is my first duty in this testimony...". From the author's preface. Opposite the title page is a photo of the author as photographed on the day of his release from Compiègne camp on March 13, 1942.
Testimony of the French Jewish playwright Jean-Jacques Bernard [1888-1972], son of playwright Tristan Bernard. Jean was captured by the Nazis and taken to Compiègne-Royallieu camp in December 1941. He survived the camps and wrote this testimony less than a year after his release. In December 1941 two German soldiers appeared at his home, separated him from his wife and children, and ordered him to present himself to a truck downstairs within 10 minutes, while collecting Jews from nearby apartments. By the end of that night he was taken for Gestapo interrogation along with a large group of Jews brought from several cities in France, some of whom he knew, none of whom had any idea of the crime for which they were arrested. Among those interrogated was also René Blum, brother of Leon Blum. Bernard describes at length about that surprising interrogation, and writes: "I have never seen so many Jews concentrated in one place".
The Nazis took him to Compiègne camp, and over the course of several months of harsh physical conditions he lost half his weight. In his testimony he recounts in detail everything that happened to him at Compiègne during those months. He barely survived the harsh winter of 1941 with the long daily roll calls held at temperatures 15 degrees below zero, some of his good friends gave in to the hunger and cold, he himself recounts several occasions where he was on the verge of death, saved at the last moment by obtaining a meal, and various kindnesses when he was on the brink of exhaustion. Bernard describes at length the daily life at Compiègne, the forced labor, hunger, and Nazi atrocities.
Bernard was released thanks to the efforts of his wife who since the day he was captured did everything in her power to release him. She knew an outside doctor who knew a German doctor from the camp, and through him Bernard was released for treatment at a hospital outside the camp, and from there made his way to freedom. His release form, written on the recommendation of that German doctor, stated: "Unsuitable for life in the camp".
Immediately upon his release, already in March 1942, he began to write this detailed testimony before us, as his supreme goal was to publish the daily horrors occurring in the camps to the world as quickly as possible, in an attempt to try to stop the horror. When the book was published in France at the end of 1944 it created great resonance - the entire French press quoted passages from the book, and it elicited much reaction across France. It was the first publication in France in which a Jewish prisoner detailed the terrible manner in which the Nazis murdered Jews for no wrongdoing, and the daily occurrences in a "German concentration camp" under Nazi command. This is the first English edition translated from French by Edward Owen Marsh.
132 p. Good condition.