Tuesday, 8 September 2015

Rywka's Diary: The Writings of a Jewish Girl from the Lodz Ghetto by Rywka Lipszyc & Anita Friedman

The newly-discovered diary of a Polish teenager in the Lodz ghetto during World War II—originally published by Jewish Family & Children’s Services of San Francisco, now available in a revised, illustrated, and beautifully designed trade edition

After more than seventy years in obscurity, the diary of a teenage girl during the Holocaust has been revealed for the first time. Rywka’s Diary is at once an astonishing historical document and a moving tribute to the many ordinary people whose lives were forever altered by the Holocaust. At its heart, it is the diary of a girl named Rwyka Lipszyc who detailed the brutal conditions that Jews in the Lodz ghetto, the second largest in Poland, endured under the Nazis: poverty, hunger and malnutrition, religious oppression, and, in Rywka’s case, the death of her parents and siblings. Handwritten in a school notebook between October 1943 and April 1944, the diary ends literally in mid-sentence. What became of Rywka is a mystery. A Red Army doctor found her notebook in Auschwitz after its liberation in 1945 and took it back with her to the Soviet Union.

Rywka’s Diary is also a moving coming-of-age story, in which a young woman expresses her curiosity about the world and her place in it and reflects on her relationship with God—a remarkable affirmation of her commitment to Judaism and her faith in humanity. Interwoven into this carefully translated diary are photographs, news clippings, maps, and commentary from Holocaust scholars and the girl’s surviving relatives, which provide an in-depth picture of both the conditions of Rywka's life and the mysterious end to her diary.

Moving and illuminating, told by a brave young girl whose strong and charismatic voice speaks for millions, Rywka’s Diary is an extraordinary addition to the history of the Holocaust and World War II.

Hardcover, 240 pages
Expected publication: September 15th 2015 by Harper 
Genre: Non Fiction

Kristine's Thoughts:

**I received an advanced readers copy from Harper via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!**

I am fascinated with anything related to the Holocaust and World War II. I have read hundreds of books both fiction and non fiction and I've watched numerous documentaries. It is a part of history that I think is important to be remembered, especially now that there are very few survivors left to speak about it.

As I was reading Rywka's Diary the same thought kept popping into my head. This was written in the Lodz Ghetto and Rywka was living it. It was hard to wrap my head around. This was the real deal.

As I was reading along I had two thoughts on Rywka. The first being that she was very well spoken (written) for someone her age. Of course, that may be a product of the translation into English. The second was that even though she appeared well spoken her maturity reflected her age in quite a few of her passages.

A lot of the passages were written in her head, describing how she felt, and less describing her surroundings and the things going on in the Ghetto. Although she mentions several things it is vague at best. Readers looking for a more historic account of the Lodz Ghetto itself may be someone disappointed. This diary is more of a personal account of a young girl and what was going on inside her head.

My rating for this book is going to be high. How can it not be? This was someone who lived during one of the most horrific times in history. These were her thoughts and feelings put on paper as it was happening. On top of her actual writings there are accounts from her living relatives, information on the effort to find out what happened to Rywka and photos. Perhaps it is because of my extreme interest in subject that I was so fascinated. I truly hope that the path that Rywka travelled is eventually discovered.

About the Contributor

Anita Friedman leads Jewish Family and Children’s Services (JFCS) of San Francisco, one of the largest and oldest family service institutions in the United States. The JFCS Holocaust Center is dedicated to the documentation, research, and remembrance of the Holocaust.

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