Finalist for 2012 National Jewish Book Award in the Holocaust category
David Koker's diary is one of the most notable accounts of life in a German concentration camp written by a Jew during the years of the Holocaust. First brought to attention when the Dutch historian Jacob Presser-Koker's history teacher in high school-quoted from Koker's diary in his monumental history, published in English as The Destruction of the Dutch Jews (1968), the diary itself became a part of the Dutch literary canon when it was published in 1977 as Dagboek geschreven in Vught (Diary Written in Vught). It has remained in print ever since, and is notable for its literary qualities, weaving poetry and powerful observations of the emotional life of a camp prisoner, including reflections after an in-person visit by Heinrich Himmler. Surprisingly, the book has never before been translated into English.
During his time in the Vught concentration camp, the 21-year-old David recorded on an almost daily basis his observations, thoughts, and feelings. He mercilessly probed the abyss that opened around him and, at times, within himself. David's diary covers almost a year, both charting his daily life in Vught as it developed over time and tracing his spiritual evolution as a writer. Until early February 1944, David was able to smuggle some 73,000 words from the camp to his best friend Karel van het Reve, a non-Jew.
With an informative introduction, annotation, and list of dramatis personae by Robert Jan van Pelt, At the Edge of the Abyss offers an immediate and wholly original look into the life of a concentration camp prisoner.
DAVID KOKER (1921–1945) was transported to the Vught Concentration Camp in 1943. During his time in Vught, David recorded on an almost daily basis his observations, thoughts and feelings. Unlike Anne Frank, who had a purposefully made diary book available in her hiding place, David did not have such a luxury in the camp. He wrote his entries on whatever scraps of paper he was able to find. Most of the paper was the rolling paper for cigarettes-available as the result of a lack of cigarette tobacco. Until early February 1944, David was able to smuggle some 73,000 words from the camp to his best friend Karel van het Reeve, a non-Jew. The part of the diary that David kept between 8 February 1944 and June 1944, when he was deported to Poland, did not survive the war.
"A single book can earn a writer a permanent place in literature, but to do that it has to be exceptional . . .I do not think that, after reading the book, anyone will dispute that Dagboek geschreven in Vught fulfills that condition."--Ivan Sitniakowsky, Telegraaf, writing about the Dutch edition
"This powerful diary deserves to take its place among the small number of such journals, notably that of Anne Frank, that elucidate the evil of the Nazi war against the Jews."--Jewish Book World
"Dutch Jew David Koker’s extraordinary diary, a clear-eyed and sensitive account of life inside a concentration camp, is finally available in English" --Tablet
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