Abel Herzberg was born in Amsterdam in 1893, the son of Russian emigrants, and died in 1989. He wrote plays and novels, many about Biblical characters (Saul, Herod, Jacob and Joseph), but is best known for his highly personal essays and memoirs of Bergen-Belsen concentration camp: Amor fati, which came out in 1946 and Tweestromenland (Mesopotamia; 1950). He also wrote Kroniek der Jodenvervolging (Chronicle of the Persecution of the Jews; 1950), dealing with the German occupation of the Netherlands. In the collection, Om een lepel soep (For a Spoonful of Soup; 1972), he presented a series of unforgettable glimpses of the human weaknesses he encountered in his life-long work as a lawyer. His work was distinguished with the Constantijn Huygens Prize (1964) and the P.C. Hooft Prize (1972), the highest award of Dutch letters.
(Brieven aan mijn kleinzoon, 1964)
Who is Chaim Finkelstein from Bialystok? A nobody, because he is a refugee and an immigrant. And so he must first become a somebody. He must learn to look upon his new country as home and realise that his origins have to become past history. To remind his grandson of his origins, Abel J. Herzberg writes how all this has happened to his family. Continued...
photo Ronald Sweering
Authors & Titles
- Between two streams (Tweestromenland). London; New York: I.B. Tauris, 1997
- Haus der Väter (Brieven aan mijn kleinzoon). Salzburg: Müller, 1967
- Amor Fati: Schicksalstreue: sieben Aufsätze über Bergen-Belsen (Amor fati). Wittingen: Erev-Rav, 1997