The Diary of Mary Berg

Growing Up in the Warsaw Ghetto


From the age of fifteen, as the German army poured into Poland, Mary Berg kept a day-to-day diary. For the first time since 1945, this heartrending, vivid portrayal of ghetto life is available to a global audience.

This astonishing record of life inside the Warsaw Ghetto ranks with the most significant documents of the Second World War. Here Mary Berg candidly chronicles not only the daily deprivations and mass deportations, but also the resistance and resilience of the inhabitants, their secret societies, and the youth at the forefront of the fight against Nazi terror. Above all it is a uniquely personal story of a life-loving girl’s encounter with unparalleled human suffering, offering an extraordinary insight into one of the darkest chapters of history.

"One of the most important documents in the age of Hitler." - San Francisco Chronicle

"Mary Berg’s diary records the dignity of man, his moral consciousness. Once again we are reminded that amid blazing homes, flame-swept streets and mass murders there were human beings who admitted no defeat." - The New York Times

"Berg’s powerful record of those terrible times is astonishingly lucid. The strength of her memories and the intensity of her experiences are naturally heart-breaking. This extraordinary, chilling memoir is essential reading for everyone." - The Independent

"Direct, sharp-eyed and full of compelling detail, this Diary is both a major resource for historians and a richly compelling human document." - The Times Literary Supplement

"What makes her account stand out is her novelist's eye: this is not just a crucial historical document but a classic read." - Scotsman

"This powerful testament documents Nazi brutalities. Berg is a remarkably clear-eyed, skillful and heart-breaking recorder of thos terrible years." - Publishers Weekly

"This book […] gave me nightmares. But that is how colourful the writing of Berg is, how intense this one family’s story is and how it can have an impact on the world. A must-read for everyone." - Atlanta Jewish Times

"Mary Berg’s diary reminds us, Jewish life under the Nazis consisted of light as well as shade." - Jewish Chronicle

"A heartbreaking record of [Mary Berg's] experiences growing up in the Warsaw Ghetto." - The Good Book Guide

"The Richness of Berg’s memories and the intensity of here experiences record for posterity a chilling account of childhood during the Holocaust." - Booklist

Bibliographic details:

320 pages

Author Details:

Susan Lee Pentlin

Professor Susan Pentlin was Emeritus Professor of Modern Languages at Central Missouri State University in Warrensburg, MO, and the leading expert on Mary Berg.