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Long-lost diary compared to Anne Frank published for first time

“Renia’s Diary” recounts life under both the Soviet and Nazi regimes in Poland during the Second World War.

Screenshot of “Renia’s Diary” from Amazon.com
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After being locked in a vault for decades, a diary that has drawn comparisons to Anne Frank has been published for the first time, according to The New York Times.

Jewish teenager Renia Spiegel was 15 years old and living in Poland in 1939, when she began writing the diary. Her writing chronicles the next three years of her life, until she was captured and killed by the Nazis in 1942, according to the Times.

Spiegel’s story is significant because she lived through both the Soviet and Nazi occupations of Poland, Alexandra Garbarini, a professor and historian at Williams College, told the Times.

“This is such a complete text,” said Garbarini. “It shows the life of a teenager before the war, after the war breaks, until she has to move to the ghetto and is executed. It’s absolutely remarkable.”

Spiegel’s sister, Elizabeth Bellak (an aspiring child actor called “the Polish Shirley Temple”), and mother immigrated to New York after the war, and it was there that they were united with Spiegel’s diary, according to The Washington Post.

It was an emotional experience, according to Bellak. She and her mother had not known that Spiegel was writing a diary. “My mom and I broke down in tears,” Bellak told the Post.

Because of the emotional significance of the diary, Bellak put it into a bank vault and out of her mind, according to the Post.

It was Bellak’s daughter, Alexandra Bellak, that drew the diary out of obscurity so she could know more about her family’s history. She had the diary translated from Polish into English, so that she could read it, the BBC reported.

“I thought, you know, I’m not just learning about Renia, for my sake, but everyone should know this story,” Alexandra Bellak told BBC.

To Alexandra Bellak and her mother, the diary is coming forward at a significant time, according to the Post.

“It’s almost fortuitous that the diary is being published now … because the same signs are showing their ugly heads again,” Alexandra Bellak said. “It’s more relevant than ever.”

Her mother agrees.

Readers “should try to help the world not to become what it was then,” Bellak told the Post.

“Renia’s Diary: A Holocaust Journal” became available Sept. 24.