‘Polish Anne Frank’ memoir coming out in English this month

The memoirs of the Polish-Jewish teenager Renia Spiegel, who was executed for hiding outside the ghetto in Przemyśl, eastern Poland, will soon be published in the US and UK.

Renia Spiegel’s diary, written between the age of 15 and 18, documents her experience as a teenager living in Przemyśl, eastern Poland during WWII. Renia wrote about ordinary topics such as school, friendships, and romance, as well as about her fears of the war, Soviet and Nazi occupation, and her forced move into the ghetto in Przemyśl.

Renia Spiegel’s mom and sister moved to Warsaw not long before the war broke out, however, Renia stayed in Przemyśl with her grandmother. In 1942 she was forced to move to the ghetto. Her sister Ariana managed to survive the occupation, thanks to Polish nuns, and left to the US after the war.

Renia was taken out of the ghetto and hidden by her boyfriend in the attic of his uncle’s house, where he also hid his parents. Unfortunately, after being denounced by an informer, all of them were executed in the street on July 30, 1942.

The diaries were in the possession of Renia’s family, however, they were not read by others until 2012. The diaries were published in Polish in 2016.

Some have compared Renia Spiegel’s diary with that of Anne Frank, noting that Renia was a little older, and understood the world differently.

My dear diary, my good, beloved friend! We’ve gone through such terrible times together and now the worst moment is upon us. I could be afraid now. But the One who didn’t leave us then will help us today too. He’ll save us. Hear, O, Israel, save us, help us. You’ve kept me safe from bullets and bombs, from grenades. Help me survive! And you, my dear mamma, pray for us today, pray hard. Think about us and may your thoughts be blessed.

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