Edith Velmans, signed by author
Edith’s Book (published as ‘Edith’s Story’ in the USA) is often compared to Anne Frank’s diary. In occupied Holland, Edith, from a lively, loving Jewish family in The Hague, went into hiding the same month as Anne Frank, both Edith and Anne kept diaries, which are remarkably similar in their pre-war teen preoccupations with boys, school and parties. But Edith’s world gradually darkens. When Nazi laws forbid her from attending school, riding her bike or even going to the beach, she wears the yellow star as a badge of honor, prompting people in the street to tell her to keep her chin up. In 1943, she is forced into hiding with forged papers, posing as a family friend in a courageous gentile household in the south of Holland, where a Nazi officer is billeted in the room next to hers. Under constant danger of discovery and betrayal, she receives terrible news from home in dribs and drabs-the deportation to the death camps first of her brother, then her mother and grandmother, never to be heard from again, while her father dies broken-hearted in a far-off hospital. Edith can only dare shout her real name to the wind, and wait for liberation. Unlike Anne Frank, Edith survived to tell her tale, and her moving teenage diary is enhanced by heartbreaking letters from her parents. A poignant coda is that after the war she became friends in the maternity ward with Miep Gies, who had helped to hide the Franks.