Honey's Treasures

Honey's Treasures

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

From the Depths of Despair

I've been wanting to watch this documentary, it's been in my Netflix queue for over a year, bumping it's way up the list, and the dvd finally arrived yesterday and we watched it tonight.  Through my tears, I post.  We must never forget the horrors of the Holocaust or fail to teach our children.  It's inconceivable to understand how over six million people can be murdered.  But they were. 
 
I’m Still Here: Real Diaries of Young People During the Holocaust is from another place and time.  Diaries written by Jewish children.  These testify of hatred, persecution, antisemitism, racism, and the power used to discriminate and eliminate every man, woman and child identified as Jewish as well as anyone deemed not worthy to live by the Nazis.

Diarists:

Klaus Langer, age 12
Began diary in Essen, Germany
March 1937 

Peter Feigl, age 14
Began diary in France
27 August 1942 
Elisabeth Kaufmann, age 16
Began diary in Paris, France
February 1940 
Diary of Dawid Rubinowicz, age 12
Began diary in Krajno, Poland
March 21, 1940
Diary of Yitskhok Rudashevski, age 14
Began diary in Vilna Ghetto, Lithuania
September 1942 
Diary of Ilya Gerber, age 18
Began Diary (no photograph of Ilya)
in
Kovno Ghetto, Lithuania
August 1942 

January 1, 1943
We, the Jews, stand on the threshold of 1943. Of this year it was said that the Jews will not see it--they will not survive that long. …The Jew, the people cursed by Der Stürmer as the criminal of all crimes, the one responsible for the world war, the betrayer of nations, the enemy of the people, the parasite who lives at the expense of others, the Bolshevik, the capitalist, the eternal exploiter, upon whose head all curses are heaped, guilty of everything--he, yes he, has survived to a new year, the year 'forty-three!

Ilya Gerber, the younger of two children, was born in Kovno, Lithuania in July, 1924. His father, Boris Gerber, was a well-known music teacher and conductor in Kovno; but little is known about his mother and older sister Chaya.

The Jews of Kovno were forced into the Kovno Ghetto in August 1941, when Ilya was just seventeen. One year later, he began writing his diary. A keen observer of the world around him, Ilya filled his diary with vivid descriptions and colorful drawings of the ghetto inhabitants suffering around him. For Ilya's immediate family, life was made a bit easier by the fact that his father was well connected to high-ranking members of the ghetto leadership. These connections allowed the Gerber family access to food and other luxuries, and Ilya's diary reflects his unusual status as a "privileged" person in the ghetto.

Ilya wrote his final diary entry on January 23, 1943. The diary breaks off at that point, and no other notebooks belonging to Ilya have been found. Ten months later, in October 1943, there was another massive roundup in Kovno. The ruthless destruction of the remainder of the Kovno Jews followed, and in July 1944 Kovno was emptied. By war's end the vast majority of the former Kovno Jewish community had perished. It is presumed that Ilya and his family were among them, though nothing specific is known of their fate.

Ilya's richly illustrated diary is now in the archives of the Vilna Gaon Jewish Museum in Lithuania.
Diary of Petr Ginz, age 15
Began Diary
in Terezín Ghetto, Czechoslovakia
October 1943 

February 8, 1944
“After thinking about it for a long time, I decided to write a diary. I’m doing it for my Mom,
Dad, and Eva, to whom I cannot write everything I would like in a letter because, first, it is
not allowed and, second, my German is not good enough.  I’m also writing it for myself so I
won’t forget the great number of incidents and types of people that I have come into contact
with.”
— Petr Ginz
Peter
Eva and Peter Ginz
Diary of Eva Ginz 14
Began Diary
Terezín Ghetto, Czechoslovakia
June 24, 1944
Ghetto by Peter Ginz
Moon Landscape by Peter Ginz
Diary of an Anonymous Girl, age unknown
Began diary in
Łodź Ghetto, Poland
February and March, 1942 
‘There is no justice in the world, not to mention in the ghetto.’ So begins the diary of a young
girl writing in the Łodź Ghetto in late February and March of 1942.  Her identity is unknown.... The language of the diary is Polish; the diarist and her family were most likely native Poles, but whether they were originally from the city of Łodź or settled from a smaller village nearby is likewise unclear. 
Above, is a section from an unknown girl's diary.  Her diary ends in the middle of a sentence on March 18, 1942.

Miriam Korber, age 18
Began diary in Transnistria, Romania
December 1941 
“Miriam’s diary was hidden from her for a long time, first by her mother and then by her
husband, who feared the emotional repercussions of her reading the diary and remembering the
horrors of life in Transnistria. After the war, she went on to become a doctor, and in the 1990s
she published the diary in Germany and Romania. The original remains with her to this day.” 
Elsa Binder, age 21
Began diary in Stanisławów, Poland
December 1941 

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