Secret diary of 'Polish Anne Frank' to be published after being kept hidden in bank vault for 70 years
The diary of a teenage Jewish girl, dubbed the ‘Polish Anne Frank’, recording life in Nazi occupied Poland is to be published for the first time.
Renia Spiegel, who lived in the eastern town of Przemysl, began her diary in 1939, when she was 15 years old.
After war broke out she recounted air raids and then the tightening grip of Nazi Germany’s terror as Jews were rounded up, forced into ghettos and murdered.
Now ‘Renia’s Diary: A Young Girl’s Life in the Shadow of the Holocaust’ will come out in print, and provide readers with a moving and graphic account of life under brutal Nazi German rule.
The teenager kept her book going until she was shot dead by German troops in July 1942 after they found in her hiding outside the ghetto walls in an attic.
But her diary, which ran to 700 pages, survived the war thanks, in part, to Zygmunt Schwarzer, Renia’s first love.
She had given him the diary just before she was killed and although Zygmunt was later sent to Auschwitz he managed to keep it safe and retrieved it after the war.
Come peace he would move to the United States, as did Renia’s sister Elizabeth and her mother, who both survived the Holocaust.
In 1950 Zygmunt tracked the family down and presented them with Renia’s diary.
In a recent interview for the BBC Elizabeth said her mother could not read the diary owing to her emotions so she kept it in a vault.
It stayed in the vault lying untouched for 70 years until Elizabeth’s daughter Alexandra decided to read the diary and “learn more about my family’s past”.
She describes reading it as “heart-wrenching” but decided to encourage her family to publish it. In the end, Elizabeth, who says she still cries when she reads, consented.
“I wanted the book to be published for the world to know how people had to live,” said Elizabeth in the interview.
“Every day you thought maybe you could be killed, and I don’t want a repeat of that. I want some love: not some hate.
“It keeps on going this hatred. It’s awful.”