The entry point for million of readers worldwide to the tragic history of the Holocaust, and especially to the story of the young people caught up in it, has been the diary of Anne Frank, first published in the United States in 1952. Anne’s diary provides a picture of a precocious adolescent whose spirit is not dimmed by the imperiled circumstances of her life in occupied Amsterdam. But what of the millions of other young people whose lives were either ended or irrevocably changed by the machinery of the “Final Solution?” Were their experiences, aspirations or fate any different from Anne’s? In Salvaged Pages, Alexandra Zapruder attempts to answer these questions with her collection of children’s Holocaust diaries, many never before available in English translation.
Zapruder begins her book with an analysis of the way Anne Frank’s diary has been received by readers as an optimistic “testament to the human spirit,” a reception that she views as simplistic. Zapruder, through this collection, aims to provide readers with a more complex understanding of Holocaust history and ultimately, a new way to view Anne’s diary and the other diaries that have survived from that catastrophic era.
In Salvaged Pages, Zapruder provides excerpts from fifteen diaries written by Jewish children and teenagers, most of whom did not survive the Holocaust, introducing each diary with biographical and historical background about the diarist and his or her place in the Holocaust. Most of the diaries included here originated in Poland, but others came from Belgium, Czechoslovakia, France, Germany, Lithuania and Romania. As such, the diaries represent a cross section of Holocaust experience, illuminating the various circumstances in which Jewish children and adolescents found themselves in Nazi Europe. For example, Moshe Flinker posed as a non-Jew in occupied Brussels. Petr Ginz and Eva Ginzova, siblings interned in Theresienstadt, remained active students despite the imminent threat of deportation to Auschwitz. Otto Wolf and his family lived in hiding on the edge of a Czech village, helped by various Gentile friends but always wary of exposure. Others wrote of brutal living conditions in wartime Europe, the murderous Nazi administration of the Eastern European ghettos, and the desperate waiting game played by refugees looking for any chance to flee.
As Zapruder herself notes, these diaries provide only fragmentary pictures of the complex individuals who created them and the harsh reality of Jewish life in Nazi-occupied Europe, but they are nonetheless valuable historical records. Each also stands as a defiant “gesture undertaken against obliteration,” and as a group they significantly broaden our picture of a young generation that was to a great extent lost to the Holocaust.
Salvaged Pages provides an appendix with short entries on the history of each of the fifty-five known diaries written by young people during the Holocaust. A second appendix offers a bibliographic essay on related first-hand accounts of the era, such as letters, diaries reconstructed in the postwar period, and texts by young, non-Jewish victims of the war and Nazism. The book includes extensive annotations and an index.
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|TABLE OF CONTENTS|
|Peter Ginz and Eva Ginzova
|Appendix I: Young Diarists of the Holocaust||425|
|Appendix II: At the Margins||444|
|Sources and Translators||471|