As I was researching lesson ideas for the teaching of “Anne Frank: Diary of a Young Girl,” I visited the Facing History & Ourselves website, as it is a wonderful resource for all things having to do with the Holocaust, as well as the teaching of tolerance, prejudice
reduction, etc., and other subjects concerning human rights and civil liberties, I came upon lessons having to do with the film I’m Still Here: Real Diaries of Young People Who Lived During the Holocaust, a documentary focusing on the diaries of young writers during the Holocaust.
The film is based upon the book Salvaged Pages: Young Writers’ Diaries of the Holocaust. The diary excerpts read in the film come from the actual pages of the young writers. Like Anne Frank, who wrote her diary while in hiding in Amsterdam, these young writers did not know if they would survive or if their diaries would be discovered and read.
I reproduce the following for the sake of remembering the young voice of this vivacious and talented young man, Petr Ginz, whose actual diaries can be read in the book, Salvaged Pages, which can be purchased at Amazon.com.
Excerpted from Salvaged Pages: Young Writers’ Diaries of the Holocaust, pages 160 – 167.
“Petr Ginz was born on February 1, 1928, in Prague, the first child of Otto Ginz and Maria Ginzová. . . . Although Maria had been raised in a Catholic family. . . . she and her husband maintained a liberal but traditional Jewish home, keeping kosher, attending synagogue on major holidays, celebrating Petr’s bar mitzvah, and sending their children to a progressive Jewish school. . . .
“On March 15, 1939, the Germans annexed Czechoslovakia and four months later, in June, legislation modeled after the Nuremberg Race Laws (defining who was and was not a Jew) was put into practice. Petr . .[was] classified as mischlinge of the first degree—children of a mixed marriage in which to two grandparents were Jewish. . . .
“In December 1941, shortly after the establishment of the Terezín (Theresienstadt) ghetto, deportations from Prague to Terezín began. The Ginz family was gradually broken up according to the Nazi rules for dealing with Jews in mixed marriages and their offspring. . . .
“Petr kept a journal of his own in Terezín beginning in October 1943. . . . Petr did not make daily, dated entries in his journal, nor did he write it in the form of a narrative. Rather, it is a terse list composed of two parts: ‘plans,’ noting what he intended to accomplish for the month, and ‘reports’ listing his actual achievements for that month. . . . The journal [for Petr] does not provide an account of daily happenings in Terezín, the character of the persecution to which Petr was subjected, or the events of the Holocaust per se. Instead it is a record of the fifteen year-old writer’s efforts to expand his intellectual and artistic capabilities. . . .
“Although Petr decided that his diary was not the best vehicle for recording aspects of life in Terezín, it was in the pages of a more public form of communication, the magazine Vedem, that this commitment was most fully realized. Vedem was a secret publication undertaken by the boys of Home, produced every week between December 1942 and September 1944, and read aloud on Friday evenings. . . . Petr occupied a central role in the production of the magazine, serving as its editor. . . .
“Petr’s last journal entries were written in September 1944, the month he was deported. . . . Petr’s life came to an end in Auschwitz, where, at the age of sixteen, he was murdered in the gas chambers.”
- Anne Frank’s Diary in US schools censorship battle (guardian.co.uk)
- Claude Lanzmann returns to the Holocaust (guardian.co.uk)
- The History of the Holocaust Crematoriums (judaism.answers.com)
- Psychological Effects of the Holocaust (judaism.answers.com)
- Terezín: the Nazi camp where music played amid the horror (guardian.co.uk)
- Holocaust Remembrance: The Music Man marches on (historychannelfromthewar.com)
- ‘Defiant Requiem’ Reprises Holcaust-Era Performance of Verdi Piece (wqxr.org)