November 22, 2019

#BookReview: Renia's Diary: A Holocaust Journal by Renia Spiegel


Synopsis: The long-hidden diary of a young Polish woman's last days during the Holocaust, translated for the first time into English, with a foreword from American Holocaust historian Deborah Lipstadt.

Renia Spiegel was a young girl from an upper-middle class Jewish family living on an estate in Stawki, Poland, near what was at that time the border with Romania. In the summer of 1939, Renia and her sister Elizabeth (née Ariana) were visiting their grandparents in Przemysl, right before the Germans invaded Poland.

Like Anne Frank, Renia recorded her days in her beloved diary. She also filled it with beautiful original poetry. Her diary records how she grew up, fell in love, and was rounded up by the invading Nazis and forced to move to the ghetto in Przemsyl with all the other Jews. By luck, Renia's boyfriend Zygmund was able to find a tenement for Renia to hide in with his parents and took her out of the ghetto. This is all described in the Diary, as well as the tragedies that befell her family and her ultimate fate in 1942, as written in by Zygmund on the Diary's final page.

Renia's Diary is a significant historical and psychological document. The raw, yet beautiful account depicts Renia's angst over the horrors going on around her. It has been translated from the original Polish, with notes included by her surviving sister, Elizabeth Bellak.


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About the Author: RENIA SPIEGEL was born to a Jewish family in Poland in 1924. She began her diary at the start of 1939, right before the invasion of Poland by the German and Soviet armies. In 1942, she was forced to move to a ghetto, but was smuggled out by her boyfriend and went into hiding with his parents. She was discovered by the Gestapo and murdered on July 30, 1942.
ELIZABETH BELLAK (née Ariana Spiegel), born in 1930, was a child actress once called “the Polish Shirley Temple.” In 1942 she and her mother fled to Warsaw, and then to Austria, finally arriving in New York City, where she lives today.

Rating: 🌟
My Review: Unfortunately this one just was not for me.  I loved the poem/story component of this work but the story itself just didn't mesh with me.  I really thought that this was going to be about her life in the world of the Holocaust but what I ended up with was a story about crushes etc.  I would love to tell you that those stories made me fall for Renia but sadly it didn't.  






"A must-read." ―Addison Independent
“A terribly poignant work that conveys the brutal reality of the time through intimate connection with a young person.”―Kirkus Review
“Moving [and] riveting... this epic, layered story of survival serves as an important Holocaust document.”―Publishers Weekly
“Renia Spiegel, a young girl so filled with a zest for life and possessed of an ability to describe in prose and in poetry the beauty of the world around her, was denied with one bullet what she so wanted: a future...Those who saved the diary and those who worked to bring it to print, have “rescued” her. They could not save her from a cruel fate. Nor could they give her that future she so desired. But they have rescued her from the added pain of having been forgotten.”―from the Introduction by Deborah E. Lipstadt, Dorot Professor of Holocaust History at Emory University and the author of Antisemitism: Here and Now
“Readers will naturally contrast Renia’s diary with Anne Frank’s. Renia was a little older and more sophisticated, writing frequently in poetry as well as in prose...Reading such different firsthand accounts reminds us that each of the Holocaust’s millions of victims had a unique and dramatic experience.”―Robin Shulman, Smithsonian magazine









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