Rutka Laskier (1929-1943) was ten years old at the time of the Nazi invasion of Będzin. She kept a diary from January through April 1943. It provides insight into daily life and conditions when Jews were restricted to certain parts in the town of Będzin, prior to forced relocation to the closed Kamionka ghetto. Most importantly, the sixty-page account of the fourteen-year-old Rutka sheds light on the impact of the Holocaust on young people. The early diary entries in January of 1943 still depict a bright and confident adolescent girl.
Rutka writes about her physical appearance and her ability to influence people around her with her wit and honesty. She discusses her social circle and her love interests in great detail. She also mentions secret exchanges of books among friends. These entries illustrate how some normalcy could continue among teenage girls. Yet, she was familiar with feelings of depression and boredom that intensified with the passing of time. Her February 1943 entries center on her loss of faith in God. She grows dissatisfied with life in the face of relocation into the closed ghetto of Kamionka, and her anger is mounting against the Nazi occupation. Rutka briefly mentions the Jewish underground resistance. She also knows about Poland’s military situation, which alludes to her possible connection to the Będzin youth movement.
Rutka’s tone becomes more desperate in response to the escalating climate of war and its implications for the ghettoized Jews. On March 1, 1943, Rutka was assigned to work in the Sammlungwerkstätte des Sonderbeauftragten (Workshop Gathered by the Special Commissioners). She became a laborer in Alfred Rossner’s factory. Yet, in the middle of the month, the Laskier family received orders to relocate to Kamionka. The last entry she wrote into her diary is dated April 24. It is assumed that she and her family had to move to the closed ghetto of Kamionka soon after.
In her diary, Rutka writes that she believes she would not survive. Maybe this is why she entrusted her dairy to Stanislawa Sapinska, the landlord’s daughter of the apartment she shared with her family before her family’s relocation to Kamionka. Stanislawa agreed to safeguard Rutka’s diary. Rutka, along with her mother Dvorah and younger brother Henius, was sent to Auschwitz-Birkenau in August of 1943, where they were murdered shortly thereafter [see map]. Only Rutka’s father Yaacov survived the Holocaust. Not until more than sixty years later did Stanislawa share Rutka’s diary with the world.
Rutka’s diary was first published in Poland in 2006, and appeared in English in:
Rutka’s Notebook: A Voice from the Holocaust (Yad Vashem, 2008)