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“I don’t want to die!”: the found diary of 15-year-old Jewish woman, murdered in Nazi ghettos

The heroine of this heartbreaking story was of Rhenium Spiegel (Spiegel Renia), 15-year-old Jewish woman originally from Poland. The girl was killed in 1942, and her story has long remained unknown. But now, after 76 years, native Rennie finally decided to publish her diary.

What was recorded in it the hand of a teenage girl, touches the depths of your soul… see it for yourself.


Source: Small Joys

Rhenium Spiegel began keeping a diary in 1939, when she was 15 years old. For three years, until the time of his death in 1942, Rhenium talked in detail about his life, friends and relatives described the horrors of the Nazi ghetto, where the girl was sent with his family.

In the photo – the younger sister of Reni, Ariana, and her daughter Alexandra Bellac.

For a long time the diary of the murdered in the ghetto, Jewish women were kept from her family. Ariana and her mother did not dare to read the entries of Reni, so the notebook has long lain untouched in the family archives.

Just a diary of Reni written 700 pages. In 2018, the family of the dead girl translated her notes into English and published as a book showing the horrors of the Holocaust.

The diary created a furor among readers. Thanks to him you can look at the horrors of war through the eyes of an ordinary teenager, who accidentally was at the center of that nightmare. The story of Reni are compared to the diary of Anne Frank.

Ariana and Rhenium Spiegel lived with his parents in the city of Skole, Poland (later the Ukraine). Shortly before the Second world war she went to Przemysl, to the South of the country to the grandparents. Her mother and Ariana remained in Warsaw.

Soon the Nazis occupied Lvov and Przemysl. Jews were forced to wear special bandages, rumors about what will be created ghetto. Massacre. Rhenium, her family, as well as another 20 thousand Jews were moved into ghettos, the Nazis forbade any contact with the outside world.

In his diary of Rhenium describes nightmarish months in the ghetto, but were she and joyful moments, for example, the evening with your sweetheart – Sigmund.

A group of Jews in the Warsaw ghetto

In 1942, heavy, but measured life is over. The Nazis put an ultimatum to the inhabitants of the ghetto, demanding payment “for protection”. Those who refused to pay were sent to concentration camps.

In his records of Rhenium talks about how in the pre-war years wanted to become an actress, how afraid of sending to the camp of the occupation and their own fear of death. In the diary there is a record that Rhenium met a boy, Sigmund S., who became her first and only love. The diary of a girl remained.

The first entry in the diary in January 1939, when Rennie turned 15 and the last dated July 30, 1942, the day the girl was murdered.

“Wherever you look — there’s blood everywhere, wrote Rhenium June 7, 1942, two months before his death — the Terrible pogroms. The constant murder. God Almighty, I again beseech you: help us, save us! Lord, let us live, I’m begging you, I want to live! I know so little in this life. I don’t want to die, death scares me. This is so ridiculous, so petty and insignificant. Today I worry about that ugly, but tomorrow, I might not have to worry at all.”

In his records of Rhenium pays much attention to the affair with Sigmund. Their feelings are gradually revealed, and they grow closer, despite all the horrors of wartime.

On 20 June 1941 the young girl described their first kiss. Later in the diary, there was this note:

“I love his green eyes. Today we kissed for the second time. It was so great, writes the Rhenium – But, you know, in this sense, there was nothing wild or untamed. It was all very gently, carefully, almost fearfully as if we were afraid to kill the feelings that were between us.”

A few days later in the diary he had such a record:

“I can’t write. I have no strength, I’m afraid. Back to the war, the war between Russia and Germany. The Germans were here but then left. We spent several horrific days in the basement. God, please give me my mum back, protect all who are left and those that left in the morning. Save us, save Sigmund”.


The last entry in the diary of Reni made by Sigmund. He tried to take his parents and girlfriend from the town, but the escapees were caught. July 30, 1942, he writes the following:

“Three shots. Three lives ruined. It happened yesterday at half 11. Fate took away my dearest, I have no reason to live anymore. In my ears – only shots, shots, shots… My favorite Renosa your journal finish”.

However, Sigmund survived. He went through the nightmare of Auschwitz and got into the program to Dr. Mengele. After the war he went to new York, where he began a new life.

Mother of Reni rose and her sister Ariana also managed to survive the nightmare. Despite the fact that they converted to Catholicism and lived under assumed names, Sigmund managed to find them in the ‘ 50s. He told them the diary of Reni, but women are unable to find the strength to open and read it.

Until 2012 he was lying untouched in a Bank vault. This continued until, while daughter Ariana Alexander was not eager to publish Rennie. She gave the diary to the translation of the Polish student. In 2014 he finished his work, the 2016 notes were issued. Then on the basis of records girls for the film and written the story for a theatrical production.

Recently, the diary of Reni was first published in English translation. In the Preface Robin Shulman writes the following:

“These records can be compared with the diary of Anne Frank. Rhenium was a little older, more educated, often wrote poetry. However, the girl lived a recluse even among friends. This diary is a reminder that every victim of the Holocaust was a person. Now, when those terrible events receded into history, and even the young victims of old, the voice of Reni especially strongly reminds us of the past. As if it is a live reportage of those events.”

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