Book review: Renia's Diary: A holocaust journal — by Renia Spiegel

(St. Martin's Press)

Renia’s diary — because that is what you hold in your hands, the diary of a young girl, a teenager, whose childhood was, as Greta Thunberg would say, stolen from her — feels private and due consideration should be accorded when reading it, and yet it is important that this written testimony be read and shared. Miraculously, this long-hidden diary survived the Holocaust but the young woman, an aspiring poet and hardworking student, did not. It has been translated from the original Polish, with notes included by her surviving sister. In descriptive prose, with verses of poetry interspersed, Renia describes her young former life in a beautiful manor house in Stawski, Poland, on the Dniester River with a garden and orchard and linden trees and fresh air. She describes missing her mother, who is in Warsaw, and living with her grandparents in the city of Przemysl, Poland, and of falling in love with Zygmund, the boy who kept her diary safe, and delivered it to her mother in New York after the war. Meanwhile, the brutal reality of the invasion of Nazis and the raids and the forced movement of Jewish people into the ghettos, is closing in around her. A must-read. 

— Reviewed by Jenny Lyons of The Vermont Book Shop in Middlebury.


7 Holocaust Memoirs You Must Read

When Memory Comes, by Saul Friedländer

Paper Love, by Sarah Wildman 

The Lost, by Daniel Mendelsohn

Night, by Elie Wiesel

Survival in Auschwitz, by Primo Levi

The Cut Out Girl, by Bart Van Es 

Maus I & II, by Art Spiegelman 

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