When Germany invaded Poland in 1939, Halina Nelken was a precocious 15-year-old, living a middle-class life in Krakow. Like other girls her age, she recorded her personal observations and feelings in a diary. As conditions in Krakow deteriorated and her family was forced into the Jewish ghetto, she continued to write, eventually smuggling her diary out with a Catholic friend. This book tells the story of Nelken's experiences in the ghetto and later in eight Nazi concentration camps, including Plaszow, Auschwitz, and Ravensbruck. Her diary entries, written between 1938 and 1943, form the core of the volume and are supplemented by recollections written shortly after the war, and by later commentaries and explanatory notes which she added in the mid-1980s. Although there exist numerous published and unpublished memoirs by Holocaust survivors, Nelken's book presents one of the few extant diaries written at the time.
After World War II, HALINA NELKEN pursued a career as an art historian, moving to the United States in 1959. She now lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
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