WE ARE WITNESSES: The Diaries of Five Teenagers Who Died in the Holocaust by Jacob--Ed. Boas

WE ARE WITNESSES: The Diaries of Five Teenagers Who Died in the Holocaust

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A riveting collection of texts that, rather than variations on a theme, remain stubbornly individualistic, adding up to a stereoscopic vision of the Holocaust. The teenagers who kept these diaries--the son of a Polish dairyman, a young communist in the Vilna ghetto, an Orthodox Jew in Brussels, a Hungarian girl from a wealthy family, Anne Frank in Amsterdam--had practically nothing in common, aside from the fact that they met the same fate. Boas couches longer and shorter quotes from the diaries with historical background and his own reflections. His analysis can be platitudinous, and almost stifling in the case of the Polish boy, the only diarist who was not a city-dweller, and the one with the least-individuated voice. But Boas's historical notes, in conjunction with the diaries, amount to a guided tour of the Holocaust, detailing the strategies used by the Nazis in five different settings. Each diary could stand on its own merit without outside elaboration; all are products of independent personalities, but perhaps nothing could have made them more effective than putting them in one book. Perhaps, too, the most significant result of the editorial process is the perfect order in which the diaries are placed: reads like a tragedy in five acts.

Pub Date: June 1st, 1995
Page count: 196pp
Publisher: Henry Holt