Diary of this Jewish girl to be published after 70 years

Renia Spiegel, a Polish Jew had barely reached adulthood when the Nazis found her hiding in an attic and murdered her in 1942. But her 700-page diary survived. The teenager had maintained a diary since she was 14, filling hundreds of pages describing the dark times she lived in and how the world around her changed. 

 And now, after 70 years in a New York bank vault, we’ll be able to read her story. She is being called ‘Polish Anne Frank’ because of her clarity and skillful writing.

 

Renia’s Holocaust account- 

Spiegel’s secret Holocaust diary was too painful for her surviving mother Róza and sister Elizabeth to read. Her sister Elizabeth said: "I have read only some of it because I used to cry all the time."

But now the family has agreed to let Penguin Books publish the book and let the world read it. Renia’s Diary: A Young Girl’s Life in the Shadow of the Holocaust will be released on 19th  September in the UK.

Spiegel was born in 1924 and lived in Przemysl, Poland, which was invaded by the Nazis in 1941. Her diary documents her escape from bombing raids in her hometown, forced to go into hiding, the disappearance of Jewish families, the creation of the ghetto and much more that stirs you.

But amid the tales of horror, Renia - who had aspired to be a poet – gave an account of falling in love for the first time with a boy called Zygmunt Schwarzer. They shared their first kiss hours before the Nazis reached her home town.

 

How the diary survived?

Renia was murdered at the age of 18. She left the diary with her boyfriend, who wrote the heart-breaking last lines in the journal: "Three shots! Three lives lost! All I can hear are shots, shots."

Schwarzer shared it with someone else for safekeeping before he was exiled to Auschwitz. He survived, moved to the US and in 1950 managed to return the diary to Elizabeth along with her mother Róża, who were both living in New York.

Elizabeth couldn't bring herself to read it, so she decided to deposit it in a bank vault. It wasn't until 2012 that her daughter Alexandra Bellak pushed to have the diary translated into English so people from all over the world could read it.

"I was curious about my past, my heritage, this special woman I was named after (middle name is Renata) and I don't speak Polish (thanks mom!) And she never read it as it was too painful," Alexandra told CNN in an interview.

When she read it for the first time, she was "heartbroken", she said.

"I understood its depth and maturity, and fine writing and poetry, and with the rise of all the isms - antisemitism, populism, and nationalism - both me and my mom saw the necessity in bringing this to life."

 

 

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