While Anne Frank and her diary have become something of an emblem of early Holocaust education for students, another diary written by a teenager during the Holocaust has surfaced that can perhaps offer a different perspective of the atrocities. JWeekly reports that the diary of Rywka Lipszyc, which chronicles six months of life in the Lodz Ghetto through the eyes of a 14-year-old, has been discovered—and, after an extensive authentication process, published.
The Diary of Rywka Lipszyc has a strange provenance. The pages were reportedly discovered outside an Auschwitz crematorium by a Red Army doctor named Zinaida Berezovskaya during the concentration camp’s liberation in 1945. She then held onto the diary until her death—at which point her son did the same. The diary was brought to light by Berezovskaya’s granddaughter, a therapist living in San Francisco, in 2008.
The story seems to have a great deal of mysterious pieces: Why did the family hold on to the diary for so long? And how was a diary from Lodz transported into Auschwitz, where prisoners were routinely stripped and examined upon entry? The theory offered by experts involved in the authentication process was that the diary was thrown into the trash and most likely rescued by a Sondercommando and hidden until liberation.
Rywka’s own story is as mysterious. Records of the religious teen, whose diary documents her enduring faith as conditions in the ghetto deteriorated, are scarce. She was said to have been transported from Auschwitz to a labor camp and then to Bergen-Belsen, and hospitalized in Germany after liberation. The last record of her was from September 1945, indicating that she was still in the hospital and too ill to be transferred.
The rest of the diary’s story is quite astonishing. You can read it here.
Stephanie Butnick is deputy editor of Tablet Magazine and a host of the Unorthodox podcast.