Ina Konstantinova: July 29, 1940

On July 29 1940, Ina Konstantinova was in a thoughtful mood. She was in her sixteenth year and had begun to keep a diary to record her thoughts about life and about the tumultuous times in which she lived. As she thought about her past and her future, she entitled a diary entry “On the last day of my childhood” and wrote “It is painful to give up all that is close and dear to us, especially one’s childhood.” A reader today can’t know for sure exactly why she wrote these words at that time. Maybe she felt the coming of adulthood and adult responsibilities in her personal life. Perhaps she perceived that events in the world around her were leading toward conflict and catastrophe. Ina’s country, the Soviet Union, had just concluded a war with Finland. The war with Nazi Germany was still 11 months away, but there could have been little doubt in her mind that she was living in dangerous times. In any case, she saw herself going through a transition that was not fully under her control and that would rob her of some of her happiness.

Ina went on to write, “I know one thing: the pure, radiant joys of childhood are gone forever.” She couldn’t have known it at the time, but within a year, she would join the fight to free her country from invasion and occupation by Nazi Germany. In a larger sense, she could have been writing for the millions of young people whose childhoods would be cut short by the war. Many of these would also lose their lives. Even those who would ultimately survive would be forced to assume adult roles and responsibilities before their time. All of the young diary writers featured on this website experienced things that should never happen to anyone, much less to children. In spite of all the losses they suffered, they still cherished life and hoped for a better future.

Ina looked forward to her future too, but she wasn’t sure what kind of a future it would be. She wrote, “Good-bye, my morning. My day, bright but exhausting, has begun. And there, at the end, my old age awaits me. But will I reach it?” Ina found meaning in her young life in joining the fight for the liberation of her country. Unfortunately, she perished in this fight on March 4, 1944. In subsequent years, she was remembered as a heroine of her country.

You may read excerpt from Ina Konstantinova’s diary in Children of the Holocaust and World War II: Their Secret Diaries by Laurel Holliday.

Click here to learn more about Ina Konstantinova and how she has been remembered by later generations.

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