Salvaged Pages by Alexandra Zapruder belongs in any library, much more so in one dedicated to the Holocaust. This collection represents a cross section of European Jewry during the Shoah. The diaries are translated from many languages, including Czech, French, German, Hebrew, Polish and Yiddish reflecting the variety of writers. Although most are adolescents, this is not a book intended solely for teenagers. This title deserves to become a standard in Holocaust studies classes, particularly those focusing on individuals.
The fourteen diaries in this anthology detail the lives of young people and their families on the run, in death camps, in hiding and during the chilling last days in the ghettos toward war's end. Each is prefaced with biographical and historical information of the diarist, location and chronology, family background and each writer's fate. Zapruder also provides other facts giving readers a more complete context.
Having shied away from the topic of the Holocaust for so long and being acutely aware of the longevity of hostility European Jewry endured, I decided to set aside my ambivalence and take a class on the Shoah. I certainly did not desire to be exposed to stock footage of mass killings, starvation, and slavery. The description of this particular class seemed to indicate a non-linear approach to the subject matter. Although, I feel strongly a text of purely chronological content is necessary in order to maintain historical context, this title's academic importance far outweighs the need for a purely linear account of events which unfolded in occupied Europe for Jews.
The diaries do what historians cannot, which is to give a first-hand personal narrative of past events as they develop. A lesson in History can give facts and figures but a diary reveals the person whose aspirations and plans can often be thwarted by tyranny and war. A diary, unlike a historical record, allows us to peer in to the mind, the...