June 7, 1944
June 7, 1944
Lodz Ghetto in Poland
The Diary of an Anonymous Boy
Obviously, we don’t know very much about the young diary writer known as the “Anonymous Boy” of the Lodz Ghetto. He didn’t give us his name, but his eloquent writing reveals much about the conditions in the Lodz Ghetto. One thing that we can discern is that the basic necessities of life were in very short supply. Much of his diary is about the incessant hunger he and his sister had to endure. It is also clear that other basic items such as writing paper were nowhere to be found. His own diary, for example, was recorded in the margins of an old French book entitled, The Truly Rich. We may also conclude that he was well educated since he wrote parallel entries in Hebrew, Yiddish, English, and Polish. Finally, our writer understood that the deprivations of the ghetto were purposefully imposed by the Nazis with the intent of dehumanizing their Jewish victims. Resisting this dehumanization was imperative, but brought with it its own kind of suffering.
DREAMING ABOUT SURVIVAL
“In spite of this all I am still dreaming”
On June 11, 1944 this young writer made the following observation: “And still Ghetto, and still subject to infernal sufferings, and still far from being able even to dream about a human life, nay, a piggish life, even that is unattainable for us. Pigs eat and don’t worry and we eat not, and worry much and work like asses.” This boy realized that self-awareness itself, that hallmark of humanity, was betraying him into a condition of even greater pain. He went on to explain, “In spite of this all I am still dreaming, thank heavens I’m no realist, for to be a realist is to realize, and realizing the whole horror of our situation would have been more than any human being could endure. I go on dreaming, dreaming, about survival and about getting fame, in order to tell ‘the world’, to tell and ‘rebuke’, to ‘tell and to protest’, both seem at the present moment remote and unbelievable – but who knows maybe, perhaps. I dream about telling to humanity but should I be able?”
It probably wouldn’t have brought much comfort to him at the time, but this writer did find a way to tell and to rebuke and to protest. We know much more about the suffering in the Lodz Ghetto, but also about the human dignity of the victims because of what he wrote.
You may read more of the diary of the “Anonymous Boy” of the Lodz Ghetto in Salvaged Pages: Young Writers’ Diaries of the Holocaust by Alexandra Zapruder.
Read more about children’s diaries and their importance in documenting Holocaust history.
Watch “Children of the Lodz Ghetto: A Memorial Research Project”that describes further studies into the lives of these young people.