Holocaust Diary of 14-Year-Old Dubbed the ‘Polish Anne Frank’ Unveiled
“The rope around us is getting tighter and tighter,” Rutka Laskier wrote in 1943, shortly before she was deported to Auschwitz. “I’m turning into an animal waiting to die.”
Within a few months Rutka was dead and, it seemed, her diary lost. But last year, a Polish friend who had saved the notebook finally came forth, exposing a riveting historical document.
“Rutka’s Notebook” is both a daily account of the horrors of the Holocaust in Bedzin, Poland, and a scrapbook detailing the life of a teenager in extraordinary circumstances. The 60-page memoir includes innocent adolescent banter, concerns and first loves — combined with a cold analysis of the fate of European Jewry.
“I simply can’t believe that one day I will be allowed to leave this house without the yellow star. Or even that this war will end one day. If this happens I will probably lose my mind from joy,” she wrote on Feb. 5, 1943. “The little faith I used to have has been completely shattered. If God existed, He would have certainly not permitted that human beings be thrown alive into furnaces, and the heads of little toddlers be smashed with gun butts or shoved into sacks and gassed to death.”
The following day she opened her entry with a heated description of her hatred toward her Nazi tormentors. But then, in an effortless transition, she described her crush on a boy named Janek and the anticipation of a first kiss. “I think my womanhood has awoken in me. That means, yesterday when I was taking a bath and the water stroked my body, I longed for someone’s hands to stroke me,” she wrote. “I didn’t know what it was, I have never had such sensations until now.” Later that day, she shifted back to her harsh reality, describing how she watched as a Nazi soldier tore a Jewish baby away from his mother and killed him with his bare hands.
When Rutka feared she would not survive, she told her friend about the diary. Sapinska offered to hide it in the basement under the floorboards. After the war, she returned to reclaim it.
“She wanted me to save the diary,” Sapinska, now in her 80s, recalled Monday. “She said ‘I don’t know if I will survive, but I want the diary to live on, so that everyone will know what happened to the Jews.'”
“I was struck by this deep connection to Rutka,” said Sherz, 57. “I was an only child, and now I suddenly have an older sister. This black hole was suddenly filled, and I immediately fell in love with her.”
However, Rutka would write again. Her last entry was dated April 24, 1943, and her last written words were: “I’m very bored. The entire day I’m walking around the room. I have nothing to do.”
In August, she and her family were sent to Auschwitz, where she is believed to have been killed upon arrival.