The Diary of Petr Ginz, ed Chava Pressburger

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The Independent Culture

Most entries in the diary of Petr Ginz, a Jewish teenager who lived in Nazi-occupied Prague, are short and matter-of-fact. He reports on the weather, the books he is reading and the grades and punishments he earns at school. But there are ominous hints of what's in the air, narrated with cool detachment and even humour: on the new law that Jews must wear yellow stars, Petr notes, "On the way to school I counted 69 'sheriffs'." Something approaching normal life goes on while the oppressive laws are ratcheted up. What happens to those who are transported, with their carefully packed suitcases and valuables, is unknown.

Petr was sent to a concentration camp at Theresienstadt, where he lived for two years, writing stories, beginning a novel and editing a magazine. This book includes selections from these, which show that he had considerable literary and artistic talent, cruelly and pointlessly snuffed out when he was sent to his death at Auschwitz, aged 16. It's fitting that this book gives him the longevity he deserves.