Monday, January 3, 2011

The Diary of Petr Ginz 1941-1942 by Petr Ginz, edited by Chava Pressburger, published in English in 2007

"While the diary itself is mainly recitations of the personal and political events of his days, his art and the brief excerpts of his journalism (he founded and edited a magazine in Theresienstadt) and novels reveal a burdened though delicate heart, and a fine mind and hand that were never allowed to grow so much finer."  from a review by Daniel Jonah Goldenhagen in the Washington Post, May 13, 2007

Petr Ginz was 14 when he was transported to the Thereisenstadt concentration camp from his home in Prague and 16 when he was killed in Auschwitz. In 2003 a Prague resident came forward with Petr Ginz’s diary and exercise books that contained fiction and drawings which had been hidden and forgotten. Petr’s sister, Chana Pressburger, a resident of Israel who had also been interned at Thereisenstadt, authenticated the two notebooks and the handwriting and then served as the editor for the first Czech edition and subsequent translations of the diary.

Petr wrote in the diary from February, 1941 to August, 1942. He made his last entry two months before being deported to Thereisenstadt.  Even though his mother was not Jewish, his family observed the Jewish holidays and seemed very close to Petr’s father’s large extended family.

Petr’s entries are often terse. They frequently come across as merely a record of what he did or saw that day. In print he does not speculate about the war, bemoan his fate or that of his family. But in his recording of what was happening you know that he was fully aware. For example, one minute he is reporting about his report card grades, then he writes about his being fitted for glasses, then of his being elected class president, then about school pranks involving mischievous science “experiments.”  But on the same pages that he has recorded these normal childhood preoccupations, he also delineates increasing restrictions leveled against the Jewish community, he “mentions” an especially loud explosion of shellfire, and he describes witnessing the constant tearful farewells between his family and relatives who were being deported. The juxtapositions of the childlike and the horrific – we know how it’s going to end – are heartbreaking.

It is clear from the full life he led which he records in his diary as well as from his artwork, poetry and an excerpt from his fiction  included in this volume, that Petr Ginz was very talented. His sister Chava Pressburger has written a substantial introduction that fills in a lot of the details of their life together and Petr’s life in Thereisenstadt where he created and contributed to a literary journal. At the end of his diary she includes a few very moving entries from her journal describing the time leading up to Petr's being deported from Thereisenstadt to Auschwitz. And she includes end notes that explain some of the history of the war that Petr alludes to in his diary.

To read an abridged version of Pressburger's introduction, click here.
To see several photos of Petr Ginz and several of his drawings created in Theriesenstadt, click here.
To see a trailer for a 2012 movie made about Petr Ginz, click here.
To read a previous post of a review of a cookbook assembled by women in Theriesenstadt, click here.

People
Josef Ginz – married Berta
    Otto Ginz – son of Josef and Berta
        Petr Ginz - his son; author of diary
        Eva (Chava) Ginzova – his daughter; married Avram Pressburger; editor of diary
            Tami and Yoram – daughters of Chava and Avram
    Emil (Milos) Ginz – son of Josef and Berta; married to Nada
        Pavel-  son of Emil and Nada
    Victor (Slava) Ginz - son of Josef and Berta
    Herma Ginz – son of Josef and Berta; married Karel Leviticus
    Anna (Anda) Ginz – son of Josef and Berta
    Miluska – married Otta Hansel; a cousin of Otto
    Jirina – married Pavel Hansel; a sister of Miluska, a cousin of Otto
        Pavlicek and Jozka – the children of either Miluska or Jirina
        Hana Ginz Skorpilova – Petr’s cousin; exact relationship not clear


Friends and acquaintances
Wolfgang Adler
Gertruda Baer (ova)
Felix Bardach
Hanus Baum
Emil Bondy
Ivan Dusner
Jakub Edelstein
Richard Erlich
Edita Fischhoff (ova)
Ota Fiser
Rita Goldmann (ova)
Zdenek Hayek
Petr Heim
Martin Heymann
Renata Hirsch (ova)
Heinz Kaufmann
Lianka Kohner
Emil Kolben
Felix Lederer
Ervin Mautner
    Egon, his nephew
Karel Mautner (relationship to other Mautners not clear)
Milos Mautner (relationship to other Mautners not clear)
Karel Muller
Berthold Ordner
Harry Popper
Karel Reich
Slavek Stein
Tomas Stein
Elisa Stein
Hanka Steiner
Hanus Stern
Ann Storz (ova)
Vilma Tapfer (ova)
Mila Weisbach
Erich Zinn

Teachers at the Jewish school Prague
Jiri Glanzberg
Elisa Stein
Robert David
? Weislitz
Jan Beinkoles
Irma Lauscher (ova)

Places
Prague, Czechoslovakia
Theresientstadt Concentration Camp, Czechoslovakia
Auschwitz Concentration Camp, Poland

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