A new diary joins the ranks of Holocaust writings. “Rykwa’s Diary: The Writings of a Jewish Girl from the Lodz Ghetto” (HarperCollins, $35) was written in the Lodz Ghetto of Poland by a teenage girl between Oct. 1943 and April 1944. When Auschwitz was liberated in 1945 a Red Army doctor discovered the diary and took it home with her. She kept it for 70 years and when she died her grand daughter found it among her possessions. She brought the handwritten pages to the Holocaust Center of Jewish Family and Children’s Services in San Francisco. Dr. Anita Friedman edited the book and published a limited edition with maps, clippings, photographs and comments by Rykwa’s surviving family. Rykwa talks about hunger, poverty, religious oppression and the deaths of her parents and siblings. For more information about Dr. Friedman’s work see http://www.jfcs.org/.
“Born Survivors” (Harper, $26.99), by Wendy Holden, traces the story of three babies born in Auschwitz who have survived and reunited in Mauthausen camp in May to celebrate the 70th anniversary of their liberation. Holden used interviews, historical records, letter and visits to the site to reconstruct the story. Rachel, Priska and Anka were taken from their husbands to Auschwitz II-Birkenau. Pregnant women were killed instantly. The three women hid their pregnancies but never learned about each other. They gave birth within three weeks of each other, one in a factory, one in a train coal wagon and one at the gates of Mauthausen. The infants only weighed three pounds but both babies and mothers survived.
“Such Good Girls” (Harper Perennial, $15.99) by R.D. Rosen is the story of three women who survived the Holocaust. Sophia Turner-Zaretsky, Flora Hogman and Carla Lessing tell the stories of their survival and the years of shame and silence they endured after the Liberation. The three organized the First International Gathering of Hidden Child Survivors. Journalist Rosen probes the story with compassion and provides a previously hidden insight into the way young children survived in the death camps.
“The Story of the Jews” (Ecco, $39.99) by Simon Schama traces Jewish history from 1000 BC to 1492 AD, the time from when the Jewish people thought of themselves as a unified nation up to the time of their expulsion from Spain. He visits four civilizations: the ancient Near East, the Hellenistic and Roman worlds, medieval Christianity, and Islam. Through anecdotes and histories about each of these regions, Schama presents a new and thoughtful look at Jewish history.