The book is another terrible account of the Holocaust from the experiences of a young boy, Petr Ginz. The accounts in his diary are short, quick, and subtle. We won't find much reflection in them, nor can sense his deep emotions from its tone. However, we could easily be struck by the small and relative events he's encountered during the time before his transportation.
We can find more of his reflection and sentiments from his poetry and novels though. If the translation gives enough proper justice, I find his poems (only two were offered here) to be more as a free writing draft, they speak too obvious without careful thought on imagery and sound. They could be interpreted in a way that Petr lets go of his sentiments whenever he writes poetry. His novels weren't available here except from an excerpt of one), but the very lone piece really impressed me. He is a young boy who loved reading and this reflected on to his talent in writing and reflecting. Petr Ginz definitely had the potential to be an influential artist, writer, in our time today. It is very sad that the world was never given a chance to see an adult Petr Ginz.
This could be seen as a small example of the potential great thinkers that the events in the Holocaust has burned away. Who knows, maybe there are thousands of Petr Ginz's out there that, if only survived, made instant change in our time today.
Here are a few passages from the book:
30. VI. 1942 (Tuesday)
I did more running around the Hilfsdienst and earned 5 crowns.
In the afternoon I was in school. I’ll have all A’ on my report card. Miss Lauscherova told me this so that I can tell Grandma before she leaves. A German man threw me off the tram in a very rough manner. He said Heraus! Out! In the proper order, first in German, then in Czech, and I had to get off; he said I was carrying an unwrapped duvet.
So I had to run in terrible rain all the way to the Hilfsdienst.
- The Diary of Petr Ginz 1941-1942, 117. ed Chava Pressburger.
from his sister, Chava:
In Israel, one day a year is dedicated to the memory of the Holocaust. On this day, called Yom Hashoah, Holocaust Day, the media deals with this subject, documentary films are shown containing horrifying witness accounts of Holocaust survivors from different countries. A great number of these accounts were recorded many years ago, immediately after the war, when the experiences were still fresh (even though I don’t believe that one can ever forget the horrors one lived through in concentration camps). Some testimonies were also used during the trial against Nazi war criminals in Nuremberg.Israeli television broadcast a witness testimony that was extremely upsetting to me because it also had to do with the death of my brother, Petr. I heard details about how mass murder was carried out in gas chambers. I ask the readers to forgive me for returning to that terrible description. The witness in question worked in the gas chambers. His task was to wait for the people shoved into the gas chamber to suffocate; then he had to open the chamber and transport the heaps of corpses to the ovens, where they were to be burned. This man could barely speak for tears. He testified that the position of the corpses suggested what went on inside the hermetically sealed chamber, when it began to be filled with toxic gas. The stronger ones, led by an overpowering instinct for self-preservation, tried to get to the top, where there was still some air left, so that the weaker ones were trampled to death.The picture of this horrific scene often haunts my thoughts, especially at night, even though I try to resist it. I see Petr in this terrifying situation and I find it hard to breathe myself. I ask myself: why him, and not me?- The Diary of Petr Ginz 1941-1942, 131. Ed Chava Pressburger.
EXCERPT FROM THE UNFINISHED NOVEL
THE SECRET OF SATAN’S GROTTO
... An adult usually pretends that he thinks only about sensible and worthy things, but this isn’t true. In unguarded moments when the ironclad vest surrounding his head opens up and his real face appears, the mask of social stiffness falls off. And I think he feels better when this happens. I know it from my own experience: having once lost my way in the woods and found a lake with dark, calm water, I threw a pebble into it and was very happy to see the circles spreading fast.It occurred to me then that my feelings at that moment were like a newspaper before it hits the rolling press. All the pressure from every side disappeared. I wondered: why does the pure paper of children’s soul have to pass from a young age through the rolling press of life and society, which imprints it with all sorts of qualities and crushes it under the pressure of worries about livelihood and the attacks of enemies.. Just as the paper thinks that the picture of its life has been printed, it reenters the printing machine, which prints more qualities and opinions on top of the others, often not complementing but rather contradicting them. Every colour tries to take up as much space as possible on the paper, then a new one comes and can replace the old one. And it’s sad that the paper can’t change it any longer, it is moved back and forth and covered with print without any regard for its own will, and when the rotating press finally spits out the finished copy and sends it off into the world, it enters a battle against other printed copies, which were maybe accidentally produced differently.The world is a rumpus, if you look at it objectively...- The Diary of Petr Ginz 1941-1942, 142. Ed Chava Pressburger.