Day After Night

by Anita Diamant

Book, 2009



Call number




New York : Scribner, 2009.


Four young women haunted by unspeakable memories and losses, afraid to begin to hope, find salvation in the bonds of friendship and shared experience even as they confront the challenge of re-creating themselves in a strange new country. Based on the extraordinary true story of the October 1945 rescue of more than two hundred Jewish prisoners from the Atlit internment camp outside Haifa.

User reviews

LibraryThing member karieh
I learned a great deal in reading “Day after Night”. I had no idea that some of the survivors of the Holocaust had to endure further imprisonment after the end of World War II. Author Anita Diamant vividly brings this truth to light using strong female voices that still haunt me, days after
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finishing the book.

Many books that I’ve read about World War II take the reader through the war and through the horrors that were part of that dark time in history. But most of those end along with the war, with maybe one final chapter or an afterword to let the reader know a few details of what happened later in the person’s or character’s life.

This book, however, begins after the war, but while memories are still very fresh, while survivors are still desperately trying to sort out exactly what happened and what remains, if anything, of their former lives.

Some of them, without documentation or relatives to claim them, were sent to an internment camp off the Mediterranean coast. The conditions were better than that of the concentration camps, but still they were not free. The people, who had seen and endured so much, were still victims.

While certainly not shying away from the horrific realities of the war, Diamant does a masterful job of reminding the reader just what those might mean to the people trying to find a way forward. She uses an actual place and true events, to create very powerful characters. Even a scene that reads very day-to-day at first catches the reader off guard when the true meaning sinks in.

“Leonie and Shayndel were early enough to get their favorite spot in the dining hall, at a table just to the right of the door, where they could watch people come and go. The other girls from their barrack joined them there and, as always, everyone ate a little too much bread a little too quickly.”

Even while immersed in this powerful book, I still couldn’t wrap my mind around the idea that people, who had survived some of the most powerful evil the world has known, were still not free. Barring the fact that few had homes and families to return to, they weren’t allowed to. Think for a moment, of people fresh from death camps, arriving at Atlit:

“All the newcomers stood, huddled together, staring at the biggest structure in Atlit, an imposing wooden barn that the inmates had dubbed “the Delousing Shed,” or just “Delousing.” Prison guards and translators from the Jewish Agency were trying to move them into two lines: men in front of the doorway at the right, women in a queue by a door on the left. Tedi caught the strong, sweat-soaked smell of fear even before she saw the faces fixed in horror at the spectacle of men and women being separated and sent through dim doorways on their way to unseen showers.”

Can you even imagine? I just wanted to go back in time and scream at whoever’s idea this was!

And later, I felt the same fierce delight as Tedi did as an escape from Atlit was planned and carried out. “As the truck started to climb the side of the mountain, Tedi inhaled the tang of pine and the mulch of fallen leaves and a hundred other scents: tree sap and resin, pollen from six kinds of dusty grasses going to seed. The soldiers up front added dark notes of leather, tobacco, onion, whiskey, sweat and gunpowder. It was a wild mixture, the aroma of escape. She caught Leoni’s eye and grinned. “It smells like heaven out here.”

I know that what many readers may take away from “Day After Night” will be the voices of the main characters: Tedi, Leoni, Zorah and Shayndel. As in “The Red Tent”, Diamant does a wonderful job of giving words to the voiceless – in this case, four women from a fading picture in an archive.

But I take away another reminder, all these years later that the grief, pain, fear and despair of those who lived through World War II, did not end when the battlefields fell silent.

“She leaned against the wall and sank slowly into a crouch, her arms folded over her head, as the icy stream stripped away the last of her defenses, motherless, brotherless, and weary to the bone, weeping for the losses she had counted and remembered and for numberless, nameless injuries registered in her flesh.”

No longer imprisoned, but never truly free.
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LibraryThing member Smits
Story of young women who escaped to Isreal from Nazi Europe in 1945. They are held in Atlit, a detention camp. We meet Leonie, Shayndel, Tedi and Zorah in this camp as they all help each other and others in the challenges they face. I never knew about these detention camps in Haifa. Seems
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unbelievable. Very rich characters in a unique place and time.
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LibraryThing member Chatterbox
A rather predictable novel; a rehash of the same ground covered by Leon Uris's Exodus. It's certainly fascinating narrative material, and there was room here to really delve deeply into how the four women who feature as Diamant's main characters might try to forge entirely new lives in a fledgling
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country, particularly given their traumatic pasts. (Only one was a concentration camp survivor, but all bear the scars of having survived, against the odds, the Nazi Holocaust.)

Instead, what I found were rather perfunctory character sketches; bit by bit, the full details of each woman's life is revealed. The writing was good, but the characters and situations were two dimensional and ultimately this is a book that did justice neither to its characters nor to the historic events. "Exodus" isn't a great novel either -- too much of a potboiler -- but there's more meat there than you'll find here. Even the parts that should be full of dramatic tension (is a woman with a Jewish child Jewish herself? Has a former camp guard smuggled herself into the midst of the victims to hide herself?) turn out to be too easily and patly resolved.
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LibraryThing member DubaiReader
A shameful piece of history.

It does not make me proud that the British were involved with detaining these war-weary people who had suffered so much. Survivors of WW II concentration camps, women forced to prostitute themselves to the enemy to survive, others who had been forced into hiding, freedom
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fighters who had lived in the hills helping others to safety - they had made it as far as "The Promised Land", yet still they found themselves behind barbed wire, interned and deprived of their freedom. Whatever your feelings about the current Israeli / Palestinian situation, you can't help but feel for the individuals who found themselves trapped.

Anita Diamant did a good job of highlighting this slice of history but I didn't feel particularly involved with the four main characters who she choses as her protagonists. I agree with the reviewer who felt they were a bit shallow; I found them rather disjointed and sparse.
Shayndel, Leonie, Tedi and Zorah were thrown together in the internment camp of Atlit after WW II, herded into the 'delousing shed' and then housed in dormitories while the authorities decided what was to become of them. The lucky ones had family in Palestine and were allowed to join them but many knew no-one and had followed the dream of a new life, only to find something rather more like what they had escaped.

This was certainly worth the read but falls short of the supremely high standard Ms Diamant set herself with The Red Tent.
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LibraryThing member schatzi
This book follows the stories of four women who survived the Holocaust and made their way to Palestine, only to be imprisoned in a British detainment center: Tedi, a Dutch girl with an extraordinary sense of smell who had been sent by her parents to hide in the countryside; Zorah, a bitter
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concentration camp survivor who cannot see good in a world that allowed the Holocaust to happen; Shayndel, a partisan who had spent the war in the forest, barely scraping by with her comrades; and Leonie, a French orphan who had lived in Paris until deciding to come to Palestine. Each girl is an orphan and without family, and details of their lives are divulged as the story progresses.

I really enjoyed this book. I suppose that part of the reason is because I am Jewish and have family members who worked on kibbutzes in Israel. I've never had the chance to speak much with them about that time in their lives, so it was interesting to get a glimpse of what their lives might have been like. I also thought that the characters were done well; none of them were quite stereotypical, and each one of them were carrying burdens of guilt and shame and remorse for their actions during the Holocaust.

I'd recommend this book to anyone who is interested in this period of time.
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LibraryThing member karenlisa
Day After Night By Anita Diamant Following WWII thousands of Jews made their way to Palestine. They were most often weak, sick and near starvation. They were the lucky ones, the survivors. The British, who were slowly losing control put a quota in place which allowed only a small number of
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displaced Jews entrance into the state. Those who had no family and no papers, as most didn't, found themselves in internment camp, which sadly felt like another concentration camp. This is the story of an escape from Atlit, a camp near Haifa. It is told through the eyes of four brave women that have lost everything and everyone in their lives They use every ounce of their will to look forward, to hope, to live. Anita Diamant is a thoughtful easy to read author, although no other book may ever match The Red Tent, Day After Night is definitely worth the read.
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LibraryThing member eleanor_eader
Day After Night is an engaging, well-written work of historical fiction, looking at the lives and rescue of the Jewish women who were detained as illegal immigrants after attempting to find new homes in Palestine after WWII. Some were fresh from the death camps of Nazi Europe, others from
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situations just as dangerous or degrading, yet they found themselves corralled into another prison camp, with more barbed wire and guards - this time British - with freedom tantalisingly close, yet still out of reach.

The losses suffered by these women during the holocaust, and their desire to find a new home, build new lives, sometimes seems to be their only common ground. Diamant wills onto the page four principal, disparate characters in Shayndel, Leonie, Tedi and Zorah, each with their own powerful story; each trying to find a path from the past into the future and though Anita Diamant clearly researched her book thoroughly, this is a much a tale of friendship, life, joy and mourning as it is a lesson in the Jewish post-war resettlement in Israel; both moving and fascinating.

It is difficult to say that I ‘enjoyed’ this book – for one thing, the renewed awareness of the imperfect role of the British when it came to war administration was rather uncomfortable – but it is sad and redeeming and human and brave and makes the reader marvel at how life blossomed from the ashes of places like Auschwitz, how these women struggled out from under the enormity of the loss and fear and shame, and faced what was ahead.
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LibraryThing member marient
Day After Night is based on the extraordinary true story of the October 1945 rescue of more than 200 prisoners from the Atlit internment camp, a prison for "illegal" immigrants run by the British military near the Mediterranean coast north of Haifa. The story is told through thge eyes of four young
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women at the camp with prodoundly different stories. Shaynel, a Polish Zionist, Leonie, a Parisian beauty, Tedi, a hidden Dutch Jew, abnd Zorah, a concentration camp survivor.
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LibraryThing member Moniica
Synopsis: This book is about an internment camp told from the point of view of four women who survived the Holocaust.
My Opinion: The first three thirds of the book were very boring and confusing - I often confused the four main characters. It is a slow read and I do not recommend it.
LibraryThing member phh333
Based on real events, this book club worthy story follows four women from their internment in a refugee camp in Palestine to their eventual rescue.
LibraryThing member irisrose
I loved this book. It is a facet of history I never thought about. I liked the developemnt of characters and the rhythm of the book. This author also wrote a book about mourning traditions in the Jewish faith which was excellent.
LibraryThing member Bellettres
What might have been a great story seemed passionless and insipid to me. The stories of the four major characters just never came to life. Perhaps if I had known more about the politics of that era...?
LibraryThing member Citizenjoyce
Day After Night by Anita Diamant is about women refugees in Israel after the Holocaust. It's a small character study of the various types of people who helped found Israel. One haunting scene toward the beginning comes when new arrivals are taken to the "delousing shed" to shower and have their
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clothes cleaned. One survivor's eyes blaze with fear, he knows what it means to go to the showers. One of the characters has to convince him that these really are just showers for getting clean. Refugees from the terrors of Nazi oppression want to find safety in Israel and are confronted with imprisonment behind barbed wire in British internment camps. How these women begin the rest of their lives is told in very matter of fact, practical language which makes it all the more powerful. It's not as powerful as The Red Tent (will she ever match that?), but shows an aspect of history I knew little about.
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LibraryThing member mojomomma
Four young Jewish women who survived the Holocaust end up in the Atlit internment camp in Palestine. We get to know their stories and their various stories before the war and their fate after they escape from Atlit and go off to various kibbitz. Diamant hits it out of the park again with her
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portrayals of strong, smart women who can do what it takes to survive.
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LibraryThing member elsyd
A great book about an event and place I was totally unaware of. I had the thought that if women had been in charge, how differently the people waiting to go to Israel would have been treated. I find it hard to understand why people didn't realize how insensitive the whole camp concept was for these
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LibraryThing member bookalover89
Four women united by tragedy after the horrors of the Holocaust and the hope of a brighter future. Tragic and beautifully written.
LibraryThing member .Monkey.
This was, as expected, a very moving book. It follows four main girls, along with another one that joins later, and a member of the Palmach working in the camp, where you learn about what they went through and how they ended up there, leading up to the true story of the rescue of over 200
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immigrants forced to stay in Atlit. The girls all came from different backgrounds, different families, had different experiences during the war, and different reactions to & handling of all they'd been through; so you are able to get a glimpse of all these different stories, which are, of course, based on just some of the many experiences that were had by millions during the war.

A wonderful story, recommended to everyone!
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LibraryThing member bookfest
The story takes place in Israel, immediately following World War II and before Israeli statehood. In an internment camp for "illegal" immigrants, four young women are caught between the horrors of war that they survived in quite varied ways and hope for a new future. It is a quick read and and
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ultimately optimistic and, in spite of the grim material covered, not as deep or complex as Diamant's other books.
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LibraryThing member dalzan
Day After Night is based on the extraordinary true story of the October 1945 rescue of more than two hundred prisoners from the Atlit internment camp, a prison for “illegal” immigrants run by the British military near the Mediterranean coast south of Haifa. The story is told through the eyes of
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four young women at the camp who survived the Holocaust: Shayndel, a Polish Zionist; Leonie, a Parisian beauty; Tedi, a hidden Dutch Jew; and Zorah, a concentration camp survivor. Haunted by unspeakable memories and losses, afraid to hope, the four of them find salvation in the bonds of friendship and shared experience even as they confront the challenge of re-creating themselves in a strange new country.

Diamant’s triumphant novel is an unforgettable story of tragedy and redemption that reimagines a singular moment in history with stunning eloquence.
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LibraryThing member Roxy1Green
This was an easy read. Its cool that the story line is so factual, but a red tent was a much better read in my opinion!! Good book though!
LibraryThing member joannemonck
Not nearly as good as The Red Tent.
LibraryThing member hemlokgang
Anita Diamant has a notable ability to bring a story alive out of the history books, or Bible in the case of "The Red Tent". I had never heard about the internment of Jews by the British, and was immediately intrigued with the story. Diamant's deceptively simple writing style manages to convey deep
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affect, character development and the emotional energies which work on the psyche of the characters. The four protagonists have all escaped to Palestine, only one from a concentration camp. Their experiences and memories, losses, and survivor guilt work on them in differing ways, all of which are powerful. I think this is a post Holocaust story which is more bearable to read, although clearly shadowed with the horror of Nazi Germany. Survival, the drive to be free, the desire to love and be loved are such powerful, vital forces!
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LibraryThing member reader1009
adult fiction; historical drama. Seemed to be well written; just wasn't the type of story I wanted to hear at the time.
LibraryThing member rhactor
Well written. Story of four young women who escaped from the Holocaust and were held in prison in Atlit.
LibraryThing member anitatally
I fell in love with this author when I read The Red Tent. This book was not up to the standards of that one. It was okay.

Original publication date



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