"More than 60 years after the teenager wrote it, the diary vividly describes the world crumbling around her as she came of age in a Jewish ghetto." from an article by the Associated Press published in the New York Times on 5/5/07
In her writing Rutka records events and reflects on her past, her present, and her future. One minute she is full of life and excitement, discussing her friends, both boys and girls, and, like many teenagers everywhere, she critically evaluates her physical appearance. The next minute, with no transition at all, she describes her terror at witnessing beatings and murders. She recalls in vivid detail the horrifying sequence of events that had taken place during the Aktion of August 12, 1942, called the Hakoah after the sports field in the neighboring town of Sosnowiec where the Jews were forced to congregate. Her family, sent to the sports field, managed a reprieve. She also writes about her job working in one of the factories owned by Alfred Rossner who tried to protect his Jewish workers. She is tormented by day-to-day waiting for she knows not what. One minute she’s convinced the war will be over soon. The next, she despairs and expects to die.
This volume of the English translation called Rutka’s Notebook which was co-published by Yad Vashem, includes very interesting short essays. Much attention has been paid to illustrate the journal and the essays with historical photographs both of public scenes and of Rutka and family members.
Rutka’s half-sister, Zahava Laskier Scherz, is the author of two of the supplemental essays. The first one is an introduction in which she describes how she came to learn that her father had had a previous family before he married her mother and that they had been killed in the Holocaust. She then writes about how she came to learn, many years later, that her half-sister Rutka had kept a journal and that it had survived.
In her second essay, called “The Three Lives of Yaacov Laskier,” she describes her father’s early years as a Zionist member of D’ror, an early trip he made to Palestine, and a return to Poland when he became ill. Resettling in Bedzin, he became a banker and was raising a family when the Germans invaded Poland. She describes how when he was deported with his family to Auschwitz he learned that the Germans were looking for people with experience working with money. He volunteered and was transferred to the Sachsenhausen concentration camp where he became a member of Operation Bernhard, which was set up to make counterfeit money. (Recently Operation Bernhard has been the subject of books and of the Austrian movie, The Counterfeiters.) She then describes his post-war life when he remarried and settled in Israel.
Another essay, written by Menachem Lior, a former Bedzin resident now living in Israel, details the search for Rutka’s surviving family once the the journal was made public. The next essay provides information about Bedzin and the Holocaust, and the last essay discusses journals by other teenagers who wrote about their lives during the Holocaust. The volume also includes an annotated bibliography of a selected list of teenage journals.
To read the memorial (yizkor) book written to commemorate Bedzin's Jewish community pre-World War II, click here.
David Laskier- married to Golda Zisman
Yehezkel-Yosef – son of David and Golda
Ester Laskier-Rodel – daughter of David and Golda
Lily Rodel – daughter of Ester
Zila Laskier – daughter of David and Golda; married to Josef Abramson
Lipman Laskier – son of Zila and Josef
Yisrael Laskier – son of David and Golda; married to Sara Prawer
Yehoshua Laskier – son of Yisrael and Sara
Gutsha (Gustawa) Laskier-Rottner – daughter of David and Golda
Yosef Rottner – son of Gutsha
Mania Laskier – daughter of David and Golda; married to Yitzhak Zilberscaz
Emanuel (Moniek) Laskier – son of David and Golda; married to Bronia Oppenheim
David Laskier – son of Emanuel and Bronia
Yaacov Laskier – son of David and Golda; married to Dvorah (Dorka) Hampel; 2nd marriage to Hanna Weiner
Rutka Laskier – daughter of Yaacov and Dvorah; author
Joachim-Henius Laskier – son of Yaacov and Dvorah
Zahava Laskier – daughter of Yaacov and Hanna; married Avigdor Scherz
Yishai and Ruth – children of Zahava and Avigdor
Emanuel Laskier – relative, relationship unclear
Jonathan Laskier – brother of Emanuel; married to Else Lasker-Schuler
Mordechai Hampel – sister of Dvorah
Dalia Hampel Mercazi– daughter of Mordechai
Friends and Acquaintances
Paulinka Gold Kleinlehrer
Genia Prawer – daughter of Luba
Sachsenhausen concentration camp, Germany
Migdal settlement, Israel
Rishon LeZion, Israel