In June, 1941, sixteen-year-old Lena Jedwab left Bialystok for summer camp in Russia - just when Germany invaded the Soviet Union.
Stranded by war in a children's home in Russia, Lena agonized over the unknown fate of her family and her precarious future. Lucky to be alive, nourished, and in school, yet consumed with anger at the war and the confusion of adolescence, Lena began to keep a diary. The diary chronicles her personal experiences of loneliness, pain, fear, and desire for love and recognition, as well as a vivid description of the world in which she then lived.
Lena wrote her diary in Yiddish, not only because it was her mother tongue, but also as a conscious effort to maintain her Jewish identity. Her writing shows an exceptional literary talent, full of subtlety and sensitivity, and by using that talent, she has left us a moving testimony to one of history's darkest times.
Literary Nonfiction. History. Jewish Studies.
Solon Beinfeld is a translator, lexicographer, and coeditor in chief of the Comprehensive Yiddish-English Dictionary.