- JFCS News
Have you read Rywka’s Diary: The Writings of a Jewish Girl from the Lodz Ghetto?
Edited by Dr. Anita Friedman, it’s the astonishing, must-read diary of a 14-year-old Polish teenager who recounts life—and death—in one of the largest ghettos during World War II before she is deported to Auschwitz.
The diary itself is remarkable—and so is the story of how it came to be published.
Plucked from The Ashes
During the 1945 liberation of Auschwitz, a doctor from the Red Army plucked Rywka’s notebook from the ashes.
But it took over 70 years of languishing in obscurity before the diary was re-discovered.
In her diary, Rywka writes a moving, detailed account of brutal conditions in the ghetto. She loses both of her parents and her siblings. She survives constant hunger, loneliness, and forced labor. Yet, amidst the terror, she finds comfort in her faith and in her diary.
The diary has six months worth of handwritten entries. And then, it suddenly ends in mid-sentence. What became of Rywka?
JFCS Holocaust Center Brings the Diary to Life
In 2008, after decades hidden away in a private collection, the doctor’s granddaughter brought the diary to the JFCS Holocaust Center.
The center got to work right away translating and researching the text. They knew her diary was destined to become an important source of inspiration around the world.
In 2014, JFCS published a limited edition of the diary, in partnership with Lehrhaus Judaica, complete with photographs, news clippings, and commentary from Holocaust scholars and Rywka’s surviving relatives. Its publication received glowing reviews.
Diary Becomes International Success
The diary was picked up by Harper Collins in the U.S. and it has since been translated and published in 15 countries around the world.
From Finland to Brazil to China, sales of the diary are going strong. Italy is in its second printing; France is in its third.
The Chicago Tribune calls the diary a “work of elegant translation and painstaking contextualization by Holocaust scholars and surviving family members that sharpens the…lens through which it’s absorbed— and puts breath to a nearly lost voice.”
Library Journal calls the diary “an incredible addition to Holocaust literature.”
Kirkus Reviews says, “[Rywka’s] journal of torment is a testament to the survival of the human spirit in the face of evil.”
Rywka’s Story Lives On
Sold alongside The Diary of Anne Frank, the book is an astonishing historical document. While many personal diaries were written during the Holocaust, most were lost. Only a few, like Anne Frank’s and Rywka Lipszyc’s, survived.
JFCS Holocaust Center has also created an extensive curriculum for school teachers who are using the diary in their classrooms around the globe. Teaching the next generation with Rywka’s Diary uses Rywka’s story to address the larger themes of the history of the Holocaust and patterns of genocide.
Accompanied by rich background materials, the book is a moving tribute to the many lives lost and forever altered by the Holocaust.
“The only thing that’s encouraging me,” Rywka wrote, “is the hope that it won’t always be like this and that I’m still young. Maybe I’ll grow up to be somebody and then I’ll be able to do something.”
While the ultimate fate of Rywka still remains unknown, she lives on in her diary.