This stirring collection of diaries written by young people during the Holocaust reflects a vast and diverse range of experiences—some of the writers were refugees, others were hiding or passing as non-Jews, some were imprisoned in ghettos. The book offers the first comprehensive collection of such writings, with extensive excerpts from fifteen diaries, ten of which have never before been translated and published in English. The diarists ranged in age from twelve to twenty-two; some survived the Holocaust, but most perished. Taken together, their accounts of daily events and their often unexpected thoughts, ideas, and feelings serve to deepen and complicate our understanding of life during the Holocaust.
The volume begins with a discussion of Anne Frank’s diary and offers a new framework for thinking about the diaries young people produced in this time of extreme crisis. Alexandra Zapruder assesses the value of these literary fragments as part of the historical record of the Holocaust and provides informative introductions about when and where each diary was written; the diarist’s biographical, religious, cultural, and economic circumstances; the fate of the diarist; the circumstances of the diary’s discovery. Finally she offers a view of the diary’s significance. An appendix gives details about the known diaries written by young people during this period, more than fifty-five in all. A second appendix provides a study of related materials, such as rewritten and reconstructed diaries, letters, diary-memoirs, and texts by non-Jewish young victims of the war and Nazism.