Thursday, June 26, 2008

Rutka's Notebook: A Voice from the Holocaust

A friend picked this one up for me, knowing of my interest in Holocaust memoirs. This one is particularly interesting - she's been dubbed "the Polish Anne Frank," and her diary does remind me of Anne's somewhat.

Rutka Laskier's diary is much shorter than Anne's however. Only 60 handwritten pages - such a short amount of text to give a picture of a life. The editors did a fantastic job, adding in pictures and historical context for the things that Rutka talks about. I enjoyed that as much as the diary itself.

And I really did enjoy the diary, as much as you can enjoy something that breaks your heart. It doesn't matter how many times I read about it, I still cannot wrap my brain around the Holocaust. Rutka's story is, in some senses, harder to read than Anne's. While Anne had to stay hidden from the Nazi's, Rutka had to interact with them first hand, and her diary tells of some incredibly disturbing incidents as her family is forced to move to a ghetto and go through "selections" where you don't know if you will end up going home or being sent to a concentration camp.

I related to her so much as a teen - much of her diary is the daily ins and outs of friendships at that age - worries about boys and your parents. And then mixed in are some incredibly deep thoughts about happiness and freedom and life itself. She felt so real to me, as if I was secretly listening in on her telling someone about her life.

While history books and conference papers have their place, of course, I feel like the memoirs of teens from this time period are an invaluable resource. They give such a depth of feeling and emotion - a true testament to what was lost. Rutka's Notebook belongs in this canon.


Michelle said...

I am fascinated in stories about the Holocaust. I am glad to know about this one. It is strange how such a difficult topic can be one I enjoy reading about. I have no idea what pulls me to that topic, but something does.
Thanks for sharing this one - I'll add that to my list.

Joy said...

I just read Maus II (graphic novel) and was just mesmerized by the atrocity. While I've read several books on the Holocaust, I learned even more from Maus II. With each book I read I get a better understanding of the whole picture; however, with each book my heart breaks a little more for all those that suffered. It's absolutely mindboggling that it even happened.

Deb said...

i read a blurb about this book a couple of months ago. sounds like it's worth picking up. thanks for the review!

Anna said...

I've always been interested in these memoirs as well. This one sounds interesting and heartbreaking.

I've linked to your review here on War Through the Generations.

Diary of an Eccentric

Ondrej from Buy Kindle said...

Very, very disturbing book.

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