On July 12, 1941, a precocious boy of thirteen named Ephraim Sten began a diary in Nazi-occupied Zloczow, a small Polish village. For more than three years, he wrote while in hiding in a small cottage in the nearby village of Jelechowice, where Hyrc Tyz and his Ukrainian Catholic family hid Ephraim, his mother and a number of other Jews. Fifty years later, Sten, now an Israeli grandfather, bows to the requests of his grandchildren who want to know about his experiences during the war, and translates his diary into Hebrew, (which has now been translated into English). While translating it into Hebrew, this older Ephraim maintains a running dialogue with the writings of his younger self. To the outer world, the older Sten is a success, but inwardly, he has never recovered from his past. The diary, with its mature commentator, shows how survivors attempt to free themselves from the voices and images of their past but don’t really succeed. Sten, who was an exceptionally bright and observant youth, is an insightful interpreter of the Holocaust experience today. An unusual and welcome addition to the memoir genre.
Marcia W. Posner, Ph.D., of the Holocaust Memorial and Tolerance Center of Nassau County, is the library and program director. An author and playwright herself, she loves reviewing for JBW and reading all the other reviews and articles in this marvelous periodical.