Renias Diary: A Holocaust Journal By Renia Spiegel

    Either I'm totally not listening to the right audiobook or this is the most optimistic holocaust diary I've ever read. Either that or at 70% absolutely nothing has happened except her giddiness over her bf and her bff . 1250244021 Renia was murdered by the Nazis and for that, she deserves to be remembered. But the premise of this book is misleading. For all but the last two weeks of her life, Renia mostly lived the life of a typical teenage girl experiencing young love. To say that her writing is self-absorbed is not an insult, but a reflection of the classic teenage experience where every perceived slight, glance from a boy, or disagreement with a friend is a huge deal to be endlessly turned over in one's mind. Renia had a flair for the dramatic and tended to convey her childish thoughts in overly sophisticated language that comes off as contrived. At first I thought it was the narrator's style that was turning me off, but when we got to the epilogue, I was immediately more engaged. The truth is that nearly every word of Renia's diary is about her crush on and relationship with Zygmunt and she only rarely mentions her concern about the war. She is separated from her mother and living with her grandparents because her mother moved to Warsaw to promote her younger daughter's acting career. Renia obviously misses her mother and yearns for her comfort and advice, but everything is secondary to Zygmunt. Frankly, this could have been the diary of any girl Renia's age and probably didn't warrant being published, but for her murder. I would have been much more interested to hear Bella's story, based on the glimpses we get in her epilogue. 1250244021 Many thanks to St. Martin’s Press and #NetGalley for allowing me to read an e-galley of this book. What follows is my honest review.

    First of all, I feel very privileged to have been able to read this book. The author, Renia Spiegel never intended it to be read by the public. It was a deeply personal look at her life and feelings from January 1939 until her death at the hands of the Nazi's just after her 18th birthday in 1942. At times while reading it I felt almost like a voyeur seeing her most private thoughts, especially about her developing love life.

    At the beginning of the book there is an excellent preface that explains that diaries differ from memoirs and biographies in that as the author is writing, he or she has no idea how the story is going to turn out. It is purely written in the moment featuring what stood out to the author at the time. Explanations of who is who are not always included because the writer had no need of them. She knew the details that would fill out the story.

    After the preface there is an introduction written by Renia’s sister who did survive the Holocaust. She had known of the existence of the diary for many years as she had received it from Renia’s boyfriend after the war but has only read portions of it even to this day as it is too emotionally difficult for her.

    Now as to Renia’s writing. She was 15 at the beginning of the journal. I don’t have personal journals from that age, but I do have some from when I was sixteen. Subject matter was similar but Renia included poems that she had written throughout her journal and they were extremely well done and really expressed her emotions and feelings well. Initially as war began her life didn’t change very much. As the part of Poland that she lived in was taken over by the Russians her life changed somewhat but her daily musings were still focused on her interactions with classmates and friends. Much of her writing then would hold little of interest to the average reader and I found it challenging to read and follow what was going on at times. She missed her mother (who was in Warsaw) terribly and had a strong faith in G_d, praying on pretty much a daily basis. When the Germans took over things changed and her focus began to include the ways that the German presence was affecting her life including the fear of the ghetto. The last words in the journal are not hers, but rather the words of her boyfriend written very shortly after her death. Life changed in an instant.

    The last part of the book is again told by Renia’s sister. She puts things in their historical perspective, explaining what was going on locally as the journal was actually being written and giving some substance to things that Renia had either inferred or briefly mentioned. I found this part very well written and interesting.

    I have seen comparisons of this book to the journal that Anne Frank kept. Each are equally important as they represent a valuable life lived and it is important that their stories speak for them. Having said that, I don’t feel this journal is quite as accessible to the average reader as Anne’s was. Anne’s was primarily written in an enclosed space with a set group of people. Renia had far more freedom of movement throughout most of the journal. I think this made it a little more difficult to follow. I have pondered and pondered over how to rate this book. I have to bear in mind that it was not written to be read by others but purely for herself and rate it more on the importance of the work and on that basis I give this a 5 star rating 1250244021 Renia Spiegel was born in Poland and at the age of 18 died by a gunshot to the head for being Jewish. She died a victim of the Holocaust. Between the ages of 15 to 18, Renia kept a diary. It took over 50 years for her 700 pages of diary to find its way to her sister Ariana (Elizabeth as she is now known as). And now it has found its way to us.

    In her diary Renia not only chronicles her struggles, but the helplessness of her family and friends who endured as well. Renia kept a record of her daily activities, going to school, arguments with friends, parties, types of stories written by any teenager, but she also kept her deepest secrets, her thoughts, her prayers, her loves, her fears and her dreams for the future in there as well. She called her diary her best friend.

    She chronicles the beginning of the German's and Russian's taking over Poland. She writes about her mother who is in Warsaw and is unable to be with her. She heartbreakingly to ends her passages with words to her mother. She desperately held on to thoughts of seeing her again and hoping she was still alive. She writes about her one and only love Zygmund. In one passage she dreams of having children with her future husband and how God has been so good to her. She is such an old soul who witnessed horror no one. let alone a child should see and hear.

    Renia writes about hearing gunshots outside and knowing someone has died, of hearing bombs, of her house being raided by the Nazi's and her grandfather paying them off to give them a little more time...

    Her diary is also filled with beautiful poems. She wrote incredible prose for such a young age they could rival any adult author's compositions of today.

    Her words are so profound and meaningful. One can only wonder who Renia would have become if she had lived. I must say I was honored to read this diary which I believe is an incredible historical document.

    I am so grateful to #NetGalley #St.Martin'sPress #Renia'sDiary for the advanced copy. The book will be out on September 24. 1250244021 As more and more Holocaust survivors pass away, it’s important that people read about their experiences so that they won’t be forgotten, and hopefully, something like that will never happen again.

    Renia’s Diary is a written record about a young Polish girl who, unfortunately, did not survive. She was smart, kind, and full of hope for her future. She was a budding poet, and had won awards at her school for her poetry. Her diary is similar to those of many teens - reflecting the angst about relationships and friendships, her social life, the feelings of first love, and thoughts about her family. But as the years go on, there’s a sense of fear as the Jews of her little town are persecuted more and more by the Nazis. A real sense of sadness begins to seep in. Yet she holds out hope for what still might be possible.

    But, for me, the most interesting part of the book was the Epilogue and Commentary written by Renia’s sister, Ariana (Elizabeth). It is here that the diary is put into context and we learn more about the lives of the sisters. Ariana explains in more detail what was happening in their world and what happened to the people that Renia wrote about in her diary.

    Thank you to Net Galley, Ariana (Elizabeth) Bellak, and St. Martin’s Press for giving me the opportunity to read Renia’s diary. 1250244021


    free download Renias Diary: A Holocaust Journal

    This diary contains important excerpts for comparative literature in the classroom. Readers see a diary significantly different than Anne Frank’s, in that Renia Spiegal was socially living out and about as a Jew in Przemysl, Poland. When Poland was conquered and divided between Russia and Germany under the Nazi-Soviet pact, Renia and other family members were split up for many years. Renia lived in Soviet-occupied Poland, while her mother lived in German-occupied Poland on the other side of the San River. As a result, Renia was able to live more freely as a Jew for most of the beginning of her diary.

    Although under soviet occupation, we still see a young girl torn by war and desperate to be with her mother again. “My thoughts are so dark, it’s a sin to even think them.” She showers her diary with symbolic poems that mostly mirror her teenage angst, but sometimes reflect a war-torn society.

    Like most diarists, Renia Spiegal could not foresee that hers would be published. So, she does regularly sift about her thoughts and mundane day to day affairs: parties, boys, gossip, dancing, crushes, and school. There is more of the day-to-day humdrum than significant events until the Nazi’s invade the Soviet territory in June of 1941 which occurs at approximately 45% of this book. With the Nazi occupation, her life takes a different turn. She must wear an arm band, her family’s possessions are taken, and they are moved to a Przemysl ghetto.

    Keep in mind that this book is primarily considered a source for research and education. Being a diary, it lacks most literary elements that we find entertaining in books. I would not recommend this book for a cozy read on the couch.

    The last 15% of the book is her sister’s account of what happened and is extremely pertinent in order to comprehend the velocity of all that Renia encountered.
    Many thanks to St. Martin’s Press and NetGalley for this advanced copy in exchange for my honest review. And, thanks to Renia who continued to write with passion amidst a cruel world. 1250244021 *https://theburgeoningbookshelf.blogsp...
    Renia’s Diary is the journal entries of Polish born Renia Spiegel from 1939, age 15 until 1942 when she was murdered, at age 18, by the Nazi’s.

    Diaries are an important part of holocaust history. They allow us to hear the voice of those that did not survive. The diarist is writing in the present and has no idea what today’s events may have on things to come.

    Renia writes in her diary as if talking to a friend. It is filled with teenage angst; first love, first kiss and jealousies.
    At times the war takes a back seat to Renia’s self doubt, troubles with friends and talk about boys. Whilst at other times it is the full focus of her entries. A lot of her feelings are reflected through poetry. She really is an amazing poet!

    When the German and Soviet armies split Poland into two zones Renia is living in Przemysl, a small city in south-eastern Poland, with her Grandparents and the yearning for her mother is constant and heart-breaking to read.

    As you would expect in a young girls diary some of the entries are obscure. She sometimes uses in-jokes or code words and you need to read between the lines.

    As Renia ages you can feel a shift in her entries as she moves from the self-centred anguish of a young teen to a those of a mature woman in love.

    The diary is published by Renia’s younger sister Elizabeth who escaped due to the help of Renia’s boyfriend, Zygu, and family friends. Elizabeth fills in a lot of the blanks that are left by the diary.

    A must read!

    I received an eCopy from the publisher to read.

    1250244021 This is a difficult book to review for a lot of reasons but I want to start by getting it out of the way that ~90% of Renia Spiegel’s nearly 700 page diary is about her infatuation with Zygmunt Schwarzer (Zygus). Yes, she’s a teenage girl and this should be expected but I think that all the news articles and marketing comparing this to Anne Frank’s diary is so misleading.

    Anne’s diary is unbelievably comprehensive. She is incredibly observant of those around her, what they’re doing, complaining about, or their verbatim conversations with her. She’s also deeply introspective for such a young girl. Anne discusses politics, current events, growing up, her hobbies and interests, the rising cost of goods, her cat going missing, and her difficult relationship with her mother (among many other topics). Upon reading the first several pages of her diary over, Anne confesses at one point that she’s embarrassed by her candor, that her descriptions are “indelicate.” That all being said, I bought a copy of Anne’s diary from the museum shop beneath her house when I was 15 and read it while in Amsterdam, so surely my perspective at that time was different.

    I’m now nearly 30 years old and struggled to be patient with Renia. It’s clear that her separation from her mother has caused a deep loneliness and need for affection. Her emotion and constant pleading for her mom to come back make her sadness almost palpable. The beginning of Renia’s diary is gripping because they have to flee Przemysl for Lwow during the Soviet Occupation, leaving her grandmother behind. However, I found her sister Arianka/Elizabeth’s recounting of this event at the end of the diary to be much more detailed and horrifying.

    They soon return to Przemysl, and for the next year, Renia records her feuds, rivalries, and crushes among her schoolmates until she meets Zygus. Nearly every entry thereafter is about her “sweet, darling, wonderful, lovely Zygus.” Renia records his name at least 167 times. I simply don’t trust anyone who claims that this isn’t tedious (and eventually mind-numbing) to read. I don’t know how a publisher could possibly work around this when printing a diary, but you should know what you’re getting yourself into.There is very little introspection, discussion of what’s going on around her (outside her group of friends), and certainly no mention of what’s happening within her household.

    Renia’s poetry is beautiful. It’s heartbreaking to think about the abundance of literature she could have given this world if she’d not been murdered. It’s clear that she doesn’t understand the gravity of the events around her, and I think it’s precisely because we know how the story ends that this is so frustrating.

    I’m grateful to Renia’s sister Elizabeth for sharing this diary with the world and for ensuring that Renia was not forgotten by time. Elizabeth’s contributions to this book are what make it at least a 3 star rating for me. She adds a lot of necessary context looking back on these events, although it’s difficult for her to recount such a painful time. Her story of survival is truly amazing, and it’s tragic that she seems to feel such guilt that she lived while her sister didn’t.

    Thank you Netgalley for providing me with an ARC for this book.

    See more of my reviews: Blog // Instagram 1250244021 Thanks to NetGalley and St. Martin's Press for a digital galley in exchange for an honest review.

    Well, I have been sitting on my review and rating for this book all weekend. Often my fellow reviewers of Holocaust non fiction have commented how difficult it is to rate a person's life story. In reading Renia's Diary:A Holocaust Diary I do find myself struggling to articulate my feelings on this diary.

    Renia Spiegel's story is important and relevant and her sister's determination to share her diary with the reading world is incredibly important and shows great love and courage. I truly believe that the most important parts of this book is for the reader to turn to the afterword and then read the diary. It's actually what finally made my decision to put this as a 3 star rating.

    The diary spans from 1939 to 1942 and tells the young Polish girl's story from adolescent crushes to the Nazi and Soviet Occupations. The most heartbreaking moments are when Renia talks about the separation from her mother and her fears as the ghetto in Przemysl is created. Like Anne Frank, Renia's young vibrant voice would be one of many silenced by the Holocaust. In fact, Renia's diary would remain unknown for many years.

    As a reader, I did find some of Renia's accounts about school mates and her love life a bit uninteresting. But I am a 37 year old English teacher, my students on the other hand would totally connect to Renia. So don't let that dissuade you from picking it up and giving it a chance.

    Goodreads review published 09/06/19
    Publication Date 24/09/19 1250244021 When I finished this, I didn’t think that it would be fair to rate it. How do you rate someone’s diary, an intimate look at someone’s inner thoughts, secrets, a diary that is not necessarily meant for anyone else to read? I ultimately decided that since I have rated Anne Frank’s diary (5 stars), I should rate this one. So it’s three stars, mainly because it was a struggle for me to read a large part of this which is focused on the day to day reflections of a teenage girl with all of its angst, squabbles with friends, parties and boyfriends. Nevertheless, I have to say it’s an important book. It is also interspersed with poems, some lovely, and some sad and poignant thoughts on what is happening in Poland, on missing her mother.

    This diary is framed by an introduction by a Holocaust scholar and an epilogue by Renia’s sister. Reading these two narratives allowed me to grasp the significance of a diary written by a teenage in occupied Poland. The introduction offers some interesting observations about diary vs memoir. The writer of a memoir knows the outcome of what happened to them, written with the memory of what happened. The writer of a diary, as is the case with Renia Spiegel, writes contemporaneously not knowing. The reader does know what happens to Renia and of course, it’s heartbreaking because we know that all, of the seemingly typical teenage concerns and her life will be upended by war, by death.

    Some of the saddest moments are when Renia talks about missing her mother, who she is separated from when she is visiting her grandmother and Poland’s occupation becomes split between the German and the Russians. There are a few passages dealing with some bombings and having to hide. When she is writing about these moments is when I was most captivated. Parts were moving, parts were repetitive and mundane , but Renia’s story is important for us to remember because of the loss of her life as well as millions of other Jews. The introduction and epilogue framing this book are equally important.

    I received an advanced copy of this book from St. Martin’s Press through NetGalley. 1250244021

    The long-hidden diary of a young Polish woman's last days during the Holocaust, translated for the first time into English, with a foreword from American Holocaust historian Deborah Lipstadt.

    Renia Spiegel was a young girl from an upper-middle class Jewish family living on an estate in Stawki, Poland, near what was at that time the border with Romania. In the summer of 1939, Renia and her sister Elizabeth (née Ariana) were visiting their grandparents in Przemysl, right before the Germans invaded Poland.

    Like Anne Frank, Renia recorded her days in her beloved diary. She also filled it with beautiful original poetry. Her diary records how she grew up, fell in love, and was rounded up by the invading Nazis and forced to move to the ghetto in Przemsyl with all the other Jews. By luck, Renia's boyfriend Zygmund was able to find a tenement for Renia to hide in with his parents and took her out of the ghetto. This is all described in the Diary, as well as the tragedies that befell her family and her ultimate fate in 1942, as written in by Zygmund on the Diary's final page.

    Renia's Diary is a significant historical and psychological document. The raw, yet beautiful account depicts Renia's angst over the horrors going on around her. It has been translated from the original Polish, with notes included by her surviving sister, Elizabeth Bellak. Renias Diary: A Holocaust Journal