Salvaged Pages - Zapruder, Alexandra; Zapruder, Alexandra - Yale University Press
Literary Studies

A Yale Nota Bene Publication

Salvaged Pages

Young Writers` Diaries of the Holocaust

  • Collected and edited by Alexandra Zapruder
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Winner of the Jewish Book Council's 2001-02 National Jewish Book Award in the Holocaust category

This stirring collection of diaries written by young people during the Holocaust reflects a vast and diverse range of experiences—some of the writers were refugees, others were hiding or passing as non-Jews, some were imprisoned in ghettos. The book offers the first comprehensive collection of such writings, with extensive excerpts from fifteen diaries, ten of which have never before been translated and published in English. The diarists ranged in age from twelve to twenty-two; some survived the Holocaust, but most perished. Taken together, their accounts of daily events and their often unexpected thoughts, ideas, and feelings serve to deepen and complicate our understanding of life during the Holocaust.

The volume begins with a discussion of Anne Frank’s diary and offers a new framework for thinking about the diaries young people produced in this time of extreme crisis. Alexandra Zapruder assesses the value of these literary fragments as part of the historical record of the Holocaust and provides informative introductions about when and where each diary was written; the diarist’s biographical, religious, cultural, and economic circumstances; the fate of the diarist; the circumstances of the diary’s discovery. Finally she offers a view of the diary’s significance. An appendix gives details about the known diaries written by young people during this period, more than fifty-five in all. A second appendix provides a study of related materials, such as rewritten and reconstructed diaries, letters, diary-memoirs, and texts by non-Jewish young victims of the war and Nazism.

Alexandra Zapruder was the exhibition researcher and educator for the permanent and traveling versions of Remember the Children, Daniel’s Story at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. She is currently an independent writer and scholar.

“When fear crawls out in the evenings from all four corners, when the winter storm raging outside tells you it is winter, and that it is difficult to live in the winter, when my soul trembles at the sight of distant fantasies, I shiver and say one word with every heartbeat, every pulse, every piece of my soul—liberation.”—from the diary of Elsa Binder, Stanislawów ghetto, 1942; the diary breaks off midsentence; she surely perished, but the exact circumstances of her death are unknown.

“It dawned on me that today is my birthday. Today I became 15 years old…. Must I day in day out see the walled-up ghetto gate, must I in my best years see only the one little street, the few stuffy courtyards?… I wish to shout to time to linger, not to run. I wish to recapture my past year and keep it for later, for the new life.”—from the diary of Yitskhok Rudashevski, Vilna ghetto, Lithuania, December 10, 1942; he was killed in 1943.