People view diaries exclusively for the purpose of jotting down feelings and thoughts that one may want to reminisce someday. During the Holocaust, however, diaries were not only for the purpose of expressing feelings and thoughts but also for recording evidence of the events that occurred around the diarist and all throughout Europe. Consider Victor Klemperer’s diary I Will Bear Witness. Klemperer was a German Jew who documented his life during the Holocaust with great detail. His diary is widely recognized as being one of the most unique and revealing diaries written during the Holocaust because he was completely honest and direct.
Additionally, Klemperer’s diary is seen as an “incredibly rich source” that provides insightful explanations of what he was experiencing physically and emotionally. Klemperer’s diary clearly reveals that he experienced a mixture of ambiguity and anxiety as he tried to make sense of what was occurring, teaches the readers about his identity as a German Jew and how he was treated because of it, and informs us that during the changing fortunes of Jews in Germany over the years he just obeyed instead of resisting.
In Klemperer’s diary, readers acquire knowledge of his mixture of ambiguity and anxiety. As mentioned in the book War and Genocide by Doris L. Bergen, World War ll began with Germany’s attack on Poland on September 1, 1939 (Pg. 130). Two days later, Klemperer wrote in his diary “What will happen? From hour to hour we tell ourselves, now is the moment when everything is decided, whether Hitler is all powerful, whether his rule will last indefinitely, or whether it falls now, now.
” This quote clearly illustrates Klemperer’s degree of ambiguity during this time period. Germany’s attack on Poland would have unforeseeable consequences and Klemperer was unsure if this would give Hitler ultimate power. In addition, Klemperer experienced extreme anxiety. About 7 months before the start of the 2nd World War, Hitler had stated that his ultimate plan was the “Annihilation of the Jewish race in Europe” (Hitler’s Prophecy Pg. 658). Needless to say, Klemperer interpreted Germany’s attack on Poland as the beginning of Hitler’s plan. On the 3rd of September, he wrote down “I said to Eva, then a morphine injection or something similar was the best thing for us, our life was over.” This quote evidently demonstrates the fear and stress that Klemperer was experiencing. To desire death and say that his life was over before knowing what would happen to him definitely reveals his mindset during this time period and shows how extremely terrified he was.
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