“Life is beautiful”

New Year’s Day 1945. For the Buchenwald inmate Jean-Louis Guellerin it was a day of hope – hope for an end to the war, a life in freedom and a return home. On this day, he wrote in the memory book of a fellow inmate, likewise a Frenchman:

“A year full of sad memories has passed. But today, several thousand French inmates greeted the year 1945 with hope. The cold, the hardships, what do they matter! It all pales behind the promise of a future we can shape. It all seems less dismal when you’re surrounded by deep bondedness. It is that feeling that reminds me this evening of an emphatically optimistic sentence: ‘Life is beautiful’.”

The hopes of the 24-year-old student did not come true. Like tens of thousands of other concentration camp inmates, Jean-Louis Guellerin did not survive the following months. He died on 25 May 1945 as a consequence of his imprisonment.

(Michael Löffelsender)

Source: Roger Foucher-Créteau, Écrit à Buchenwald 1944–1945, Paris 2001.