The secret diary of a Jewish teenager murdered by the Nazis in 1942 is to be published more than 70 years after the final entry.
Too distressing for her surviving mother and sister to read, the diary, which runs over 700 pages, is being released for the first time on September 19.
Poland’s Renia Spiegel, who had aspired to become a poet, was shot by the Nazis aged 18 in 1942 after being discovered in hiding in an attic.
Renia’s Diary: A Young Girl’s Life in the Shadow of the Holocaust chronicles the disappearance of Jewish families, the creation of the ghetto and the diarist’s escape from bombing raids.
The diary, which Renia began at the age of 14, has drawn comparisons to Anne Frank’s journal – for its style and chilling first person descriptions of life under Nazi rule.
Its pages, which include dozens of poems, detail Renia’s first love with Zygmunt Schwarzer – and the first kiss they shared before the Nazis reached Przemysl.
Renia left her diary with Zygmunt before her death, and the teen, who wrote its devastating final entry, entrusted it to someone else for safekeeping.
Zygmunt was deported to Auschwitz but, after surviving the death camp, tracked down Renia’s sister Elizabeth in New York in 1950, who kept it safe in a bank vault.
Several decades later, Elizabeth’s daughter Alexandra Bellak had the book translated from Polish into English to learn more about her aunt.
Here are some excerpts:
7 June 1942
Wherever I look, there is bloodshed. Such terrible pogroms. There is killing, murdering. God Almighty, for the umpteenth time I humble myself in front of you, help us, save us! Lord God, let us live, I beg You, I want to live! I’ve experienced so little of life. I don’t want to die. I’m scared of death. It’s all so stupid, so petty, so unimportant, so small. Today I’m worried about being ugly; tomorrow I might stop thinking forever.
July 15, 1942
Remember this day; remember it well. You will tell generations to come. Since 8 o’clock today we have been shut away in the ghetto. I live here now. The world is separated from me and I’m separated from the world.