Five Holocaust diaries / Inda Starr Shirley
Includes bibliographical references (p. 199-208)
This study is an examination of five Jewish diarists—Anne Frank, Moshe Flinker, Eva Heyman, Etty Hillesum, and Dawid Sierakowiak—who chronicled their lives during the Holocaust. The study asks two questions: (1) With destruction, diminution, and death omnipresent during the Holocaust, to what extent did the five diarists concentrate on their personal goals? (2) How in the nucleus of the Nazi terror did the diarists continue to write and find meaning in their writing?During the Holocaust, Jewish archivists took great care to chronicle their experiences for future generations. They wanted to record the life of their community and the details of its destruction. For the five diarists, personal writing was a key in their ability to continue their own growth and development. Writing provided an arena in which they could use language to express themselves and strive to remain emotionally whole. The writing process allowed them to place some distance between themselves and the horror that surrounded them. Anne Frank's diary provided a safe realm in which she discovered her true calling: writing. Moshe Flinker's hope was that his diary would provide the stimulus for his continued religious growth and development that had previously been part of his life as a member of a community of Orthodox Jews. Flinker chronicled his moments of success, ennui, and despair. Eva Heyman's writing was unique, in that rather than herself, her family was the diary's protagonist. Her stance in the diary was like that of a photographer. Etty Hillesum's goal to heal herself was the initial impetus for her diary keeping. Her success at self-healing facilitated two other aims: writing and the healing of others. For Dawid Sierakowiak, who slowly starved to death in the Lodz Ghetto, a diary provided a safe realm allowing him to remain connected to the person he had been before the German occupation which caused the slow disintegration of his body and his soul.
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