Diaries are useful, but in some ways they are so double edged. A prime example of this would be Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl
. For many students, it is an introduction to WW II. It allows young children an entry way in to a subject that is both difficult and painful. Yet, as several critics have pointed out, the diary is limited because it presents, usually, one point of view. Therefore, Frank's Diary presents a rather limited view of one person in hiding.
This collection amends that. Frank is mentioned, but her diary isn't included. Zapruder includes a diaries from a wide variety of social classes, areas, and ages. Both boys and girls are included here.
These diaries chronicle not only the experience of those in the ghettoes, but also of those in various types of camps. One gets the experience of the regular, Ghetto dweller and the ghetto elite. Some of the stories end in tragedy, others live. Particularly moving are when writers are wondering about the fate of loved ones, loved ones who in many cases died. In the case of the surviors, there is a sense of finality that comes. Sometimes in a tragic sense and sometimes with a sense of hope.
There is something very haunting about entry written two years after the war, where the diariest notes that her brother has still not returned.
I do wish that some of the photos and sketches mention had been reprinted in the book.