Now translated and published in over a dozen languages and countries, Rywka’s Diary provides an intimate, passionate, and thoughtful first-person account of a fourteen-year-old girl’s experiences during the Holocaust. The diary’s 112 handwritten pages—which document Rywka’s hopes and hardship under Nazi rule—are paralleled only by the story of how the diary came to light, three generations after the end of World War II.
In 1945, as Russian soldiers and medics tended to liberated Holocaust survivors at Auschwitz, a Red Army physician discovered a mysterious handwritten diary in the rubble of the death camp. The diary, which documents a period of six months in the Lodz ghetto, remained in darkness for over six decades, until finally, the doctor’s granddaughter brought it to a Holocaust center in San Francisco. A team of researchers and historians then began working to authenticate, preserve, transcribe, and translate the diary, making it their personal mission to answer the many questions sparked by its sudden appearance.
Unlike the diary of Anne Frank, which was written in hiding from the Nazis, Rywka’s diary was written while the Third Reich and its accomplices directly oppressed Rywka through forced labor, starvation, and the murder of her parents, siblings, and community. Even as she toiled in a garment sweatshop on the Lodz ghetto, Rywka secretly read books and recorded her thoughts, asserting her humanity in the face of hunger, war, and death:
In some passages, Rywka’s diary channels her rage against her brutal captors— “Oh, go to hell you plunderers and murderers,” she writes as she recalls how two of her three siblings were deported to their deaths. Meanwhile, other passages reveal wisdom and hope—such as when she vividly describes her fantasies of a post-war future in which she is a writer and Holocaust survivor, educating young people about what she once endured. Through the film DIARY FROM THE ASHES, Rywka’s vision will be realized.
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2017 Copyright Yoav Potash