“Rutka’s Notebook, A Voice From the Holocaust“, is a personal accounting, taken from the diary of Rutka Laskier, a Polish teenager. She wrote her diary beginning at the age of 14, and it spans approximately three months of her life, beginning January 19, 1943.
Rutka describes, in depth, her fluctuating emotions during the time period, and her diary reflects the ups and downs, the roller coaster of emotions, that most teenagers feel. From typical feelings of love and jealousy, to familial discontent, to the German occupation, Rutka defines life during the Holocaust through her eyes and voice. Yet, those emotions and her thoughts are coupled with the fact that she is astutely aware of the Holocaust and its ramifications to humanity. Rutka’s writing gives voice and witness to the realities of the Holocaust.
Rutka wrote her thoughts and emotions in her diary, and told her non-Jewish friend, Stanislawa Sapinska, to find it and save it, if and when, Rutka and her family were moved from their apartment in Bedzin to the Ghetto, or if they were deported. There was a predetermined hiding spot.
After the war ended, Sapinska returned to the apartment, and located the diary. She held on to it for sixty years. Sapinska’s family convinced her to show its existence.
Rutka articulates her thoughts and emotions like that of a more mature person, and not that of a young teenager. She is aware of the consequences that could occur, and is aware of the brutality of war, having witnessed some horrors within the confines of daily living.
I recommend this historical book to everyone, young or old, alike. “Rutka’s Notebook: A Voice From the Holocaust” is an amazing accounting of daily life, of the struggles and fears lived every hour of each day, and of the knowledge that one may not live to see the end of war. It is a testament to her strength and willpower, that Rutka Laskier had the foresight to want her diary preserved for the world to see. She wanted the truth to be told. It should be on a bookshelf in every school classroom, not only for its extreme historical value, but also so that Rutka Laskier’s life will not be forgotten in the time continuum.
The introduction was written by Rutka Laskier’s half-sister, Zahava (Laskier) Scherz. A family biography at the end of the diary, itself, was also written by Scherz.