Rutka Laskier’s diary covered a brief three month period of her life, from late January though April 1943. She wrote her last entry on April 24th. She knew that her family could be sent to the closed Kamionka ghetto at any time, but it doesn’t seem as though she knew that on this day she would end her diary. She did not write a final message or try to sum up her feeling about the tragedy of the Holocaust that was closing in on her.
Even though Rutka was only fourteen years old, she already had a job. She had been assigned to work in a factory a few weeks earlier and was still getting used to the job. She was grateful to have work, because Jews with jobs were safer than those without. No Jewish person was entirely safe, though. As time wore on, more and more people were being forced into the closed ghetto. From there, Rutka knew that many were sent on to the Auschwitz death camp. The fact that Auschwitz was a killing center was known to the people of Rutka’s town, so avoiding deportation was the main goal of every person. Still, Rutka missed the life she had before and she recorded her feelings of loss. She wrote, “The summer is already here. It’s difficult for me to sit still in the ‘shop.’ The sun is shining so brightly. Outside the windows apple trees and lilacs are blooming, and you have to sit in this suffocating and stinking room and sew. The hell with it.”
It must have been difficult for Rutka to come to grips with the fact that her childhood was over and that she was in a struggle for her life. She realized that precarious nature of her situation when she wrote, “The town is already empty. Almost everyone lives in Kamionka. We will probably move there this week.” A few days later, her fears came true. Her family was moved into the closed ghetto. She gave her diary to a Christian friend for safe-keeping. A few months later, she was deported to Auschwitz to her death. Rutka’s reflections from April 24th turned out to be the last of her words to be preserved.
You may read more excerpts from Rutka’s diary in a New York Times review here.
You may read a testimony about the Kamionka ghetto here.
October 15, 2015 at 6:00 PM
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Opening Reception: The Scroll of Remembrance
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