I am on page 156 of Renia’s Diary, the diary which Holocaust victim Renia Spiegel kept until she was shot by the Nazis. I hope to read up to page 200 tonight and finish it tomorrow. It is, at heart, a tragic love story. Why? Because in its pages Renia falls in love with Zygu (Zygmunt) whom she hopes to marry and who was the one who managed to save the diary and send it to America before getting sent to Auschwitz himself. Miraculously, he lived, and he got the diary back in America. Her sister also lived, and after Zygmunt’s death she received the diary. It was, however, Renia’s niece who published it and then translated it into English and other languages so people could read it who did not read Polish. And so I am reading it. The happy days Renia spent with her Zygu are best recalled in her words,
I’m in love, which is my explanation for writing all this nonsense. You forgive a person in love, you forgive them everything, and the apropos the sad party I escape.
This encapsulates my view on love… and my view on the guy I love, though I am not sure I have the courage to mention his name. This diary, despite its tragedy, is the perfect book to read if you are in love. Why? Because Renia and Zygu were so perfectly in love, and because their love’s end was because of the outside world and not flaws intrinsic to the relationship. I admit that ordinarily I am not big on love stories. Yet this one moves me as though it were Romeo and Juliet, or Jane Eyre. The only difference is that at the current moment in the book Zygu is graduating from high school, and Renia is worries about the fact that they are now all wearing armbands with a Star of David on them. I admit that Renia is–unlike Anne Frank–largely oblivious to the outside world till now, because she does not even question the why she had to move to her grandmother’s house. I am not putting her down. Anne Frank was a special sort of person, but so is she. Both of them added so much to the world just by writing their diaries down on paper to be preserved by people who loved them and then handed to people who although they did not know them personally preserve them as a part of what was lost.