Sal­vaged Pages: Young Writ­ers Diaries of the Holo­caust, Sec­ond Edition

  • Review
By – October 7, 2015

In the best of sce­nar­ios, when a book is reis­sued in a sec­ond edi­tion, it’s because so much new schol­ar­ship has been cre­at­ed around the top­ic that the first set of pages just cry out for expan­sion and even rein­ven­tion. This is cer­tain­ly the case with Sal­vaged Pages, a read­able, infor­ma­tive, and enlight­en­ing col­lec­tion of essays by young writ­ers who came of age in the poi­soned air of the Holo­caust years.

Win­ner of the Nation­al Jew­ish Book Award in its first edi­tion (pub­lished in 2002), this set of first-per­son nar­ra­tives con­tains eye­wit­ness reportage by young peo­ple between the ages of 12 and 22. Schol­ars often ask how we can best under­stand the enor­mi­ty of the Holo­caust, and some answer, rather con­vinc­ing­ly, that it is through deeply tak­ing in the obser­va­tions, impres­sions, emo­tions and activ­i­ties expe­ri­enced in the day-to-day lives of indi­vid­ual people.

Sal­vaged Pages, issued both in print and as an e‑book, serves many pur­pos­es: the full revi­sion and updat­ing of its con­tents reflects new ideas about sur­vival and geno­cide and is designed to serve a range of read­ers, from aca­d­e­mics to seri­ous stu­dents of the Holo­caust to lay peo­ple who want to be ful­ly informed about the era. In addi­tion, the sec­ond edi­tion also incor­po­rates a vari­ety of media, so that it can be used as a class­room tool along with the inter­dis­ci­pli­nary cur­ricu­lum in his­to­ry, lit­er­a­ture, and writ­ing that has been devel­oped to sup­port the teach­ing of the Holo­caust in both mid­dle- and high-school class­rooms. These new media include pho­tos of the writ­ers and their diaries, orig­i­nal art­work, maps, sur­vivor tes­ti­monies, and his­tor­i­cal documents.

Because of these attrib­ut­es, the new edi­tion stands out as an edu­ca­tion­al tool. Alexan­dra Zaprud­er, who col­lect­ed and edit­ed the essays, has wise­ly col­lab­o­rat­ed with experts in a vari­ety of dis­ci­plines and tech­nolo­gies, includ­ing the well-respect­ed edu­ca­tion­al non­prof­it Fac­ing His­to­ry and Our­selves. In a demon­stra­tion of the val­ue of the book, the Unit­ed States Holo­caust Memo­r­i­al Muse­um has adopt­ed it as one of its foun­da­tion­al texts.

The essays are parts of real diaries and jour­nals kept by the young peo­ple as their dai­ly lives unfold­ed. They are filled with emo­tion that rings true, illu­mi­nat­ing their expe­ri­ences at home, in hid­ing, in tran­sit camps, ghet­tos, and con­cen­tra­tion camps. Despite fear and cold, dis­place­ment and loss, these writ­ers con­tin­ued to find scraps of paper and pen­cils on which to record what was hap­pen­ing to them. Time and again they ask why — why they are hun­gry, why they are los­ing their fam­i­lies, why they are forced to live in hell. And while we imbibe these extra­or­di­nary sto­ries, what we most­ly find is that we have no answers, only more — but per­haps bet­ter — questions.

Lin­da F. Burghardt is a New York-based jour­nal­ist and author who has con­tributed com­men­tary, break­ing news, and fea­tures to major news­pa­pers across the U.S., in addi­tion to hav­ing three non-fic­tion books pub­lished. She writes fre­quent­ly on Jew­ish top­ics and is now serv­ing as Schol­ar-in-Res­i­dence at the Holo­caust Memo­r­i­al & Tol­er­ance Cen­ter of Nas­sau County.

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