Day After Night

Day After Night

by Anita Diamant


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Named a Best Book of the Year by The Washington Post and The Salt Lake Tribune
Just as she gave voice to the silent women of the Hebrew Bible in The Red Tent, Anita Diamant creates a cast of breathtakingly vivid characters—young women who escaped to Israel from Nazi Europe—in this intensely dramatic novel.

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 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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780743299855
Publisher: Scribner
Publication date: 08/10/2010
Pages: 294
Sales rank: 245,976
Product dimensions: 8.28(w) x 11.06(h) x 0.69(d)

About the Author

Anita Diamant is the bestselling author of the novels The Boston Girl, The Red Tent, Good Harbor, The Last Days of Dogtown, and Day After Night, and the collection of essays, Pitching My Tent. An award-winning journalist whose work appeared in The Boston Globe Magazine and Parenting, she is the author of six nonfiction guides to contemporary Jewish life. She lives in Massachusetts. Visit her website at


Boston, Massachusetts

Date of Birth:

June 27, 1951

Place of Birth:

New York, New York


M.A. in English, SUNY, Binghamton, NY, 1975; B.A. in Comparative Literature, Washington Univ., St. Louis, MO, 1973.

Read an Excerpt

Day After Night 1945, August
The nightmares made their rounds hours ago. The tossing and whimpering are over. Even the insomniacs have settled down. The twenty restless bodies rest, and faces aged by hunger, grief, and doubt relax to reveal the beauty and the pity of their youth. Not one of the women in Barrack C is twenty-one, but all of them are orphans.

Their cheeks press against small, military-issue pillows that smell of disinfectant. Lumpy and flat from long service under heavier heads, they bear no resemblance to the goose-down clouds that many of them enjoyed in childhood. And yet, the girls burrow into them with perfect contentment, embracing them like teddy bears. There were no pillows for them in the other barracks. No one gives a pillow to an animal.

The British built Atlit in 1938 to house their own troops. It was one in a group of bases, garages, and storage units set up on the coastal plains a few miles south of Haifa. But at the end of the world war, as European Jews began making their way to the ancestral homeland in violation of international political agreements, the mandate in Palestine became ever messier. Which is how it came to pass that Atlit was turned into a prison or, in the language of command, a “detention center” for refugees without permissory papers. The English arrested thousands as illegal immigrants, sent most of them to Atlit, but quickly set them free, like fish too small to fry.

It was a perfectly forgettable compound of wooden barracks and buildings set out in rows on a scant square acre surrounded by weeds and potato fields. But the place offered a grim welcome to the exhausted remnant of the Final Solution, who could barely see past its barbwire fences, three of them, in fact, concentric lines that scrawled a crabbed and painful hieroglyphic across the sky.

Not half a mile to the west of Atlit, the Mediterranean breaks against a rocky shore. When the surf is high, you can hear the stones hiss and sigh in the tidal wash. On the eastern horizon, the foothills of the Carmel reach heavenward, in keeping with their name, kerem-el, “the vineyard of God.” Sometimes, the candles of a village are visible in the high distance, but not at this hour. The night is too old for that now.

It is cool in the mountains but hot and damp in Atlit. The overhead lights throb and buzz in the moist air, heavy as a blanket. Nothing moves. Even the sentries in the guard towers are snoring, lulled by the stillness and sapped, like their prisoners, by the cumulative weight of the heat.

There are no politics in this waning hour of the night, no regret, no delay, no waiting. All of that will return with the sun. The waiting is worse than the heat. Everyone who is locked up in Atlit waits for an answer to the same questions: When will I get out of here? When will the past be over?

There are only 170 prisoners in Atlit tonight, and fewer than seventy women in all. It is the same lopsided ratio on the chaotic roads of Poland and Germany, France and Italy; the same in the train stations and the Displaced Persons camps, in queues for water, identification cards, shoes, information. The same quotient, too, in the creaking, leaky boats that secretly ferry survivors into Palestine.

There is no mystery to this arithmetic. According to Nazi calculation, males produced more value alive than dead—if only marginally, if only temporarily. So they killed the women faster.

In Barrack C, the corrugated roof releases the last degrees of yesterday’s sun, warming the blouses and skirts that hang like ghosts from the rafters. There are burlap sacks suspended there as well, lumpy with random, rescued treasures: photograph albums, books, candlesticks, wooden bowls, broken toys, tablecloths, precious debris.

The narrow cots are lined up unevenly against the naked wood walls. The floor is littered with thin wool blankets kicked aside in the heat. A baby crib stands empty in the corner.

In Haifa, the lights are burning in the bakeries where the bread rises, and the workers pour coffee and light cigarettes. On the kibbutz among the pine trees high in the Carmel, dairymen are rubbing their eyes and pulling on their boots.

In Atlit, the women sleep. Nothing disturbs them. No one notices the soft stirring of a breeze, the blessing of the last, gentlest chapter of the day.

It would be a kindness to prolong this peace and let them rest a bit longer. But the darkness is already heavy with the gathering light. The birds have no choice but to announce the dawn. Eyes begin to open.

Reading Group Guide

This reading group guide for Day After Night by Anita Diamant includes an introduction, discussion questions, and ideas for enhancing your book club. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.


Based on a true story, Day After Night is told through the eyes of four young female Holocaust survivors interned at a British military camp in after World War II. Though haunted by terrible memories and innumerable losses, these women ultimately find salvation through the bonds of friendship and love as they confront the challenge of rebuilding their lives. The unforgettable strength and resilience of Polish Zionist Shayndel, Parisian beauty Leonie, Dutch outsider Tedi, and concentration camp survivor Zorah provide a riveting and heartbreaking look at individual human experiences of the Holocaust and its aftermath.

Questions for Discussion

  1. Shayndel “was overcome by the weight of what she had lost: mother, father, brother, friends, neighbors, comrades, lovers, landscapes.” Reflecting on her past Leonie remembers a vision in which “her own voice, [said] yes to life, as miserable as it was.” For Zorah, remembering the worst of what happened to her and others is a sacred trust. Although loss and suffering have shaped each character, they are remarkably resilient. How might terribly memories actually keep a person going? What does the book tell us about the strength of the human spirit?

  1. What is the significance of the book’s title? How can it be interpreted?

  1. How do food and celebration play an important part in the novel?

  1. How do Tirzah and Bryce’s similarities and differences influence their love for each other? There are great silences between them; how do small physical gestures communicate their thoughts and feelings?

  1. As Zorah’s feelings for Esther and Jacob change, she reflects that “the world was an instrument of destruction” but that “the opposite of destruction is creation.” How does this idea reflect the novel as a whole? Diamant also writes (in Zorah’s voice) that “‘luck’ was just another word for ‘creation,’ which was as relentless as destruction.” What does this mean? How is this a turning point for Zorah?

  1. All of the characters have strengths that helped them to survive the war. How do their strengths and weaknesses influence each other? How might one person’s weakness help to develop another person’s strength?

  1. “Everyone in Atlit had secrets… Most people managed to keep their secrets under control, concealed behind a mask of optimism or piety or anger. But there were an unfortunate few without a strategy or system for managing the past…” How do secrets play a role in all of the women’s experiences at the camp? How have each of them been shaped by secrets?

  1. Discuss the theme of identity and how it plays an important role in the characters’ lives. Consider Esther and Jacob’s story, Shayndel’s memories of her skills as a fighter in contrast to the way others at the camp view her, Leonie’s past, etc.

  1. What does Tedi’s keen sense of smell symbolize? How does her sense of smell provide insights into the other characters?

  1. How do the characters find common ground despite seemingly impossible circumstances? Consider the relationships between Tirzah and Bryce, Leonie and Lotte, and Zorah and Esther, among others.

  1. “Leonie’s skin was unblemished. She had not hidden in a Polish sewer or shivered in a Russian barn. She had not seen her parents shot. Atlit was her first experience of barracks and barbwire. She had survived the war without suffering hunger or thirst. There had been wine and hashish and a pink satin coverlet to muffle her terrors.” Discuss this passage. What does it say about the nature of fear and horror? How would you compare Leonie’s experiences during the war with those of her friends? How can internal and external horror be equally destructive?

  1. How did you feel about Lotte’s story? Did the way it ended surprise you? What do you make of the main characters’ silence about what happened?

  1. On their last night together each of the women has a vivid dream. How would you interpret these?

  1. What did you think of the epilogue? Was it satisfying?

  1. How would you compare Day After Night with other World War II-era novels that you’ve read?

  1. What are some of your favorite passages from the book? What were some of the most difficult parts to read?

    Enhance Your Book Club

    1. Cook a meal in honor of Tirzah’s Rosh Hashanah feast. Check out traditional recipes at, and or peruse the Jewish cooking section at your local bookstore.

    2. Learn more about Atlit and see a photo of the “Delousing Shed.” Visit

For information about Yitzhak Rabin, one of the Palmachniks who orchestrated the Atlit escape and a future Nobel Prize winner and prime minister of , visit for biographical information and links to further reading material.

3. Visit Anita Diamant’s website at

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Day After Night 3.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 120 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I did enjoy this book as I have others by this author, but like others have said, the characters aren't really fleshed out and the reading is light yet emotional. The subject itself is very fascinating. I was sadly touched by the end, but I feel it lends credibility to the story. I would mildly recommend this book.
Amy_D_Z More than 1 year ago
Day after Night is the latest offering from acclaimed author Anita Diamant (The Red Tent). In this novel, Diamant transport the reader to Palestine, 1945. In the wake of Nazi Germany, the remaining Jews of Europe, recently liberated from the death camps, frail, hollow, and raw, are now gathered in Displaced People's Camps (DP's) across Europe. Many young people stand at a cross roads. They've lost everything - parents, siblings, friends. They've seen and experienced every horror, and now they must decide what to do with their lives. Should they return to their homes and communities in Europe? Should they take inspiration from the Zionist camp songs of their younger days and immigrate to Palestine? Should they try to find relatives in America? And ultimately: can they even live in the world, after having been through the camps? Diamant gives us a peak into the lives of five young women - teenage girls, really - each of whom ended up by a twist of fate in Palestine on the eve of Israel's statehood. "Welcome Home!" they are greeted by fellow survivors as they enter the barbed wired gate at Atlit - a prison compound on the Mediterranean coast of Israel, just south of Haifa. Having arrived in Palestine as a result of different motivations - some Zionist, others desperate, and still others from a sense of having nothing left in Europe, the girls undertake the seemingly insurmountable task of healing. They find themselves alive and alone in a world turned completely upside-down. They've been surviving from day to day for years, and now must adjust once again to a "new normal." Their struggle with this is palpable. A commonality they share is a great reluctance to remember - to remember the horrors they experienced in the camps. and even more poignant and more painful, to remember what life was like before the camps. Each girl has secrets that cannot be brought into the light of day. Each must battle her inner demons to find peace and self-forgiveness. Each girl finds her healing in different ways and at different times. And despite their tough outward appearances and actions, they support one another. Within Atlit the detainees break themselves into communities, often by their origins (Romanians, Germans, Hungarians, Poles, etc.). They come together as communities to converse in their native tongues, to ask for information about their neighbors and friends, and pray in familiar tunes. In a particularly moving scene, the entire camp comes together to recite Kaddish at the end of Yom Kippur. So many souls over which to pray. The number of young people in the camp makes sexual tension inevitable. These are young men and women in their late teens and early twenties. They flirt with each other. They tease one another. At one point a bus of Syrian Jews is brought into the camp (these young men had been captured by the British crossing the border into Palestine). They are muscle-bound, dark-skinned, black-haired men - very foreign and exotic-looking to the pale, thin European girls witnessing their arrival. Day after Night "has it all" - a wonderful story-line based on some of the most important moments in Jewish and Israeli history; empathetic characters; sex; intrigue; a prison break and chase scene; and even an epilogue to answer the questions of "whatever happened to" so-and-so. It's a beautiful book, from cover-to-cover, full of weepy moments and opportunities to reflect on life and how we play the cards we're dealt.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great read! Based on real events, which opened my eyes.
ToastedHead More than 1 year ago
The Red Tent had such an impact on all of us that years later, we are still talking about it. With high hopes, my book club and I read The Day After Night. We were intrigued by the subject matter which has not been touched on in recent literature. With so much written about the Holocaust, we were interested in finding out more about what was happening in Israel right at the beginning. This is the first novel in our experience that touched on the subject. Expecting another revealation, my book club and I were so disappointed with Day After Night. The characters were so poorly described and developed that we kept confusing the women and could not form clear pictures in our heads about their looks and personalities. The story was also simple, redundant and ended so quickly, it felt like a kid in class who had to finish a story because the bell had rung. We are going to see Anita Diamont speak tomorrow night, se we are curious to see what she has to say about this rather intriguing subject, but poorly executed novel.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was a dissapointment after reading the red tent! I had high hopes for this one! :/
LovesToReadBW More than 1 year ago
Wow! This book gives you another look at what happened after World War II. A view that opens you up to wondering how anyone could survive the atrocities that occurred, how people could go on after losing everything. How could they have any hope or will-power. I am not sure there are many in our society today that could endure and go on. I had never really given any thought to how the people from the concentration camps survived after they were released by the Allies. Unfortunately we teach our children about World War II when they are really too young to think about what happened to individual people. Where they went, how they survived after the War.
RobbieLee More than 1 year ago
This book humanizes the Holocaust, sometimes we tend to put everyone in one category. Each one of these women survived different situations in different ways. Also, when a war is over we tend to forget that the impact of that war will affect that entire generation for the rest of their lives and in turn the lives of those they care about. GREAT BOOK.
dalzan on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
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 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.
karenlisa on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
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 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.
Roxy1Green on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
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!
bookfest on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
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 ultimately optimistic and, in spite of the grim material covered, not as deep or complex as Diamant's other books.
Bellettres on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
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...?
irisrose on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
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.
elsyd on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
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 people.
Citizenjoyce on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
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 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.
bookalover89 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Four women united by tragedy after the horrors of the Holocaust and the hope of a brighter future. Tragic and beautifully written.
phh333 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
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.
Chatterbox on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
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 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.
karieh on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
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 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
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Excellent story that while sad, is refreshing and uplifting. Makes you want to read all work by Diamant.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Loved this story. It was informative but with great character development. Interesting novel about the aftermath of WWII, survivors, and the forming of a new nation. It focused on friendship, hopes, fears and forgiveness of mostly 4 women in a detention camp. This book was well worth my time and money. Another great survival story on th NOOK is The Partisan by William Jarvis. It recently won an Indie Award. Both books deserve A+++++++
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am fascinated by WWII stories. Having been born after the war, it was surprising to me how we could have allowed the slaughter of so many Jews. And I had no idea that they continued to be interned after the war. This book seems to be a very personal account of the trials of the people. The characters were very well developed- you could FEEL what they were thinking and going through. I loved the entire story and cried while reading the last several pages. A must read.