We all know the story of Anne Frank but unfortunately Anne wasn’t the only teenage who died in the camps. Helga Deen another teenage girl who lived in the Netherlands also died as result of the Nazi ideology and she also wrote a diary.
Helga Deen (6 April 1925 – 16 July 1943) was the author of a diary, discovered in 2004, which describes her stay in a Dutch prison camp, Kamp Vught, where she was brought during World War II at the age of 18.
Deen was half-Dutch. Initially her father lived with his German GP wife in Germany, but moved back to the Netherlands as persecution increased. Her mother worked for a time as a doctor at a concentration camp at Vught. She was given leave to remain but chose to accompany her family to Sobibor, where she died.
After her last diary entry, in early July 1943, Helga Deen was deported to Sobibór extermination camp and murdered. She was 18 years old.
Helga Deen wrote her diary in a three-month period of time in 1943, the year she was eighteen, and also the year she died.
The diary shows how desperation slowly set in. In an excerpt dated June 6, 1943, just after 1,300 children were deported to Auschwitz and Sobibor death camps in Poland, she wrote: “Transport. It is too much. I am broken and tomorrow it will happen again. But I want to (persevere), I want to because if my happiness and willpower die, I too will die.”
In the diary, Deen recorded some of her day-to-day experiences for Van den Berg, but even more of her emotions, Weling said. “Maybe this diary will be a disappointment to you because it doesn’t contain facts,” Deen wrote to Van den Berg. “But maybe you’ll be glad that you find me in it: conflict, doubt, desperation, shyness, emptiness.”
Among other entries, Deen’s diary recorded the relief she felt after her family was once not selected for deportation — and the fear they might be chosen next time. “We are homeless, countryless and we have to adjust ourselves to that way of life. What we have seen in these last months is indescribable, and for someone who hasn’t been there, unimaginable,” she wrote.
Helga hoped hard work might save her from deportation. But, in early July 1943, she was told her family would be on the next train.Below is the last entry of her diary, dated 6th of July 1943.
“Packing, and this morning a child dying which upset me completely,” she wrote.
“Another transport and this time we will be on it.”
A memorial stone to Helga and her family has been placed by a member of the Dutch Sobibor Foundation on the pathway which used to lead to the gas chambers (‘Road to Heaven’).
Memorial Helga Deen Tilburg