Friday, November 30, 2012

Review: We Are Witnesses: Five Diaries of Teenagers Who Died in the Holocaust by Jacob Boas

We Are Witnesses: Five Diaries of Teenagers who Died During the Holocaust by Jacob Boas reveals the diaries of five Jewish teenagers who, although they recorded their experiences during the war, were not able to survive the Holocaust that rapidly consumed those around them. The diaries of David Rubinowicz, Yitzhak Rudashevski, Moshe Flinker, Eve Heyman and finally, Anne Frank are each explored through a brief biography of the history and short lives of these teenagers along with a series of quotes from the diaries or other records that they left behind. Although Boas provides ample information about the lives of each diaries, none of the diaries are quoted extensively. We are told mainly of what the teenagers wrote about, and given long quote or two--but there is too much "tell" on behalf of the author when showing would have been a more effective way of revealing the characteristics of these teenager writers to the reader. Despite this shortcoming, the book is still a worthwhile introduction which may give readers both context and a starting point for reading the full diaries left behind by those who did not survive.
"Dear diary, I don't want to die. I want to live even if it means that I'll be the only person here allowed to stay. I would wait for the end of the war in some cellar, or on the roof, or in some secret cranny. I would even let the cross-eyed gendarme, the one who took our flour from us, kiss me, just as long as they didn't kill me, only that they should let me live.
 --The last entry in the diary of Eva Heyman, before she and her family were deported to Poland. She was murdered in the gas chambers upon her arrival to Auschwitz.

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