by Alexandra Zapruder
Reviewed in Publishers Weekly, April 1, 2002
Zapruder, who works in the education department at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, has done a great service to history and the future. Her book deserves to become a standard in Holocaust studies classes, particularly those aimed at youth or focusing on individuals. The 14 diaries in this anthology—most appearing in English for the first time—detail the lives of teens and their families, some on the run, some in camps, some in hiding and some during the chilling last days in the ghettoes in Nazi-occupied Europe. Each is prefaced with a biography of its author, information on family background and, when known, his or her fate. Zapruder also provides other facts that would have been known to the diarists and their peers, providing readers with a more complete context. Their experiences and reactions vary widely. Peter Feigl’s parents baptize him as a Catholic and send him to church, but eventually are forced to send him from Austria to France. He blames the Jewish-identified teens around him for the circumstances that have ripped him from his parents. In contrast, Belgian Moshe Flinker becomes more attached to traditional Judaism, but increasingly depressed. His last entry, in the fall of 1943, reads, “I am sitting facing the sun. Soon it will set; it is nearing the horizon. It is as red as blood, as if it were a bleeding wound. From where does it get so much blood? For days there has been a red sun, but this is not hard to understand. Is it not sufficient to weep, in these days of anguish?” These writings will certainly impress themselves on the memories of all readers.