Girl's Holocaust Diary Unveiled
The Associated Press
June 4, 2007.
JERUSALEM -- The diary of a 14-year-old Jewish girl
dubbed the "Polish Anne Frank" was unveiled on Monday,
chronicling the horrors she witnessed in a Jewish ghetto
_ at one point watching a Nazi soldier tear a Jewish baby
away from his mother and kill him with his bare
journal of Rutka Laskier is seen during a
ceremony presentation at Yad Vashem Holocaust
Museum on June 4, 2007. The diary of a
14-year-old Jewish girl, dubbed the "Polish Anne
Frank," unveiled more than 60 years after the
teenager wrote it, vividly describes the world
crumbling around her as she came of age in a
The diary, written
by Rutka Laskier in 1943 shortly before she was deported
to Auschwitz, was released by Israel's Holocaust museum
more than 60 years after she recorded what is both a
daily account of the horrors of the Holocaust in Bedzin,
Poland and a memoir of the life of a teenager in
"The rope around
us is getting tighter and tighter,"
the teenager wrote in 1943, shortly before she was
deported to Auschwitz. "I'm
turning into an animal waiting to die."
Within a few
months Rutka was dead and, it seemed, her diary lost. But
last year, a Polish friend who had saved the notebook
finally came forth, exposing a riveting historical
. The 60-page memoir includes innocent adolescent banter,
concerns and first loves _ combined with a cold analysis
of the fate of European Jewry.
Some 6 million
Jews were killed by the Nazis during World War II, after
European Jews were herded into ghettos, banned from most
jobs and forced to wear yellow stars to identify
"I simply can't
believe that one day I will be allowed to leave this
house without the yellow star. Or even that this war will
end one day. If this happens I will probably lose my mind
from joy," she
wrote on Feb. 5, 1943.
"The little faith
I used to have has been completely shattered. If God
existed, He would have certainly not permitted that human
beings be thrown alive into furnaces, and the heads of
little toddlers be smashed with gun butts or shoved into
sacks and gassed to death."
Reports of the
gassing of Jews, which were not common knowledge in the
West by then, apparently had filtered into the Bedzin
ghetto, which was near Auschwitz, Yad Vashem experts
The following day
she opened her entry with a heated description of her
hatred toward her Nazi tormentors. But then, in an
effortless transition, she described her crush on a boy
named Janek and the anticipation of a first
"I think my
womanhood has awoken in me. That means, yesterday when I
was taking a bath and the water stroked my body, I longed
for someone's hands to stroke me," she wrote. "I didn't
know what it was, I have never had such sensations until
Later that day,
she shifted back to her harsh reality, describing how she
watched as a Nazi soldier tore a Jewish baby away from
his mother and killed him with his bare hands.
chronicles Rutka's life from January to April 1943. She
shared it with her friend Stanislawa Sapinska, who she
met after Rutka's family moved into a home owned by
Sapinska's family, which had been confiscated by the
Nazis to be included in the Bedzin ghetto. Sapinska came
to inspect the house and the girls --one Jewish, one
Christian-- formed a deep bond.
When Rutka feared
she would not survive, she told her friend about the
diary. Sapinska offered to hide it in the basement under
the floorboards. After the war, she returned to reclaim
"She wanted me to
save the diary," Sapinska, now in her 80s, recalled
Monday. "She said 'I don't know if I will survive, but I
want the diary to live on, so that everyone will know
what happened to the Jews.'"
the diary in her home library for more than 60 years. She
said it was a precious memento and thought it to be too
private to share with others. Only at the behest of her
young nephew did she agree to hand it over last
"He convinced me
that it was an important historical artifact," she said
In 1943, Rutka was
the same age as Anne Frank, the Dutch teenager whose
Holocaust diary has become one of the most widely read
books in the world. Yad Vashem said Rutka's newly
discovered diary was authenticated by experts and
Yaakov, was the family's only survivor. He died in 1986.
But unlike Anne Frank's father, he kept his painful past
inside. After the war, he moved to Israel, where he
started a new family. His Israeli daughter, Zahava Sherz,
said her father never spoke of his other children, and
the diary introduced her to the long-lost family she
"I was struck by
this deep connection to Rutka," said Sherz, 57. "I was an
only child, and now I suddenly have an older sister. This
black hole was suddenly filled, and I immediately fell in
love with her."
"I have a feeling
that I am writing for the last time," Rutka wrote on Feb.
20, 1943, as Nazi soldiers began gathering Jews outside
her home for deportation.
"I wish it would
end already! This torment; this is hell. I try to escape
from these thoughts of the next day, but they keep
haunting me like nagging flies. If only I could say, it's
over, you only die once ... but I can't, because despite
all these atrocities, I want to live, and wait for the
would write again. Her last entry was dated April 24,
1943, and her last written words were: "I'm very bored.
The entire day I'm walking around the room. I have
nothing to do."
In August, she and
her family were sent to Auschwitz, where she is believed
to have been killed upon arrival.