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May 29 , 2009

Rywka's Diary

The Writings of a Jewish Girl from the Lodz Ghetto


In 1945, a doctor with the Soviet Red Army found a school notebook buried near the crematoria of the newly liberated Auschwitz concentration camp. Thinking the notebook looked interesting, she brought it home to Russia, where it languished for decades. After the doctor's death, her granddaughter, who had emigrated to the United States, discovered the book and brought it to the attention of Jewish Family and Children's Services of San Francisco, where the diary was first recognized for the extraordinary artifact that it is. Handwritten between October 1943 and April 1944, the work proved to be the diary of a young girl who had lived in the Polish ghetto of Lodz under Nazi rule and who had been transported to Auschwitz. What had become of the girl was a mystery.

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Elegantly translated from Polish into English seventy years later, Rywka's Diary is at once an astonishing historical document and a moving tribute to the many ordinary people whose lives were forever altered by the Holocaust.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 is the story of Rywka Lipszyc, a girl in the Lodz ghetto, the second largest in Poland, who detailed the brutal conditions that she and other Jews living under the Nazis had to endure: poverty, hunger and malnutrition, religious oppression, and the death of close family members.

Rywka's Diary is a deeply felt coming-of-age story in which a young woman expresses curiosity about her place in the world 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 circumstances 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.

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