Tragic girl ‘speaks from the grave’ 70 years after being killed by Nazis

The final words and prayers of a schoolgirl murdered just days after her 18th birthday have been published more than seven decades later.

Putting pen to paper, terrified Renia Spiegel pleaded with God to live, tragically saying: "I’ve experienced so little of life".

The harrowing diary entries were penned by the Polish Jewish schoolgirl during the Second World War – she’d started in 1939, aged 15, shortly before fighting began, Mail Online reports.

And for 76 years her words were unheard after being locked away when neither her mother Roza or younger sister Ariana, who survived the concentration camps, could bring themselves to read them.

The 700-page diary lay dormant until Ariana’s daughter, Alexandra Bellak, decided to send it for translation.

In one entry, dated June 7 1942 – two months before she was shot in a Nazi ghetto – Renia wrote: "Wherever I look, there is bloodshed. Such terrible pogroms. There is killing, murdering.

"God Almighty, for the umpteenth time I humble myself in front of you, help us, save us! Lord God, let us live, I beg You, I want to live! I’ve experienced so little of life.

"I don’t want to die. I’m scared of death. It’s all so stupid, so petty, so unimportant, so small. Today I’m worried about being ugly; tomorrow I might stop thinking forever."

Set against a horrifying backdrop of war and anti-Semitic violence, the entries also capture struggles of a normal teenager navigating her way closer to adulthood before her future was cruelly ripped away.

Compared to Anne Frank’s, the diary began in January 1939 and ended on the last day of Renia’s life, July 30 1942, when she was executed by German soldiers.

The final lines were written by her boyfriend Zygmus Schwarzer, who gave a harrowing account of her death, and that of his parents.

Now, 76 years after her murder, the diary has been published in full by St Martin’s Press, and segments have appeared in Smithsonian magazine.

Through her diary, Renia tells of how she spent most of the war in Przemyśl, in southern Poland, away from her mother and sister who were in Warsaw, pursuing an acting career for the young girl.

But when war broke out in September 1939, Renia’s mother found herself under Nazi command while her beloved daughter and her grandparents were taken into Soviet occupation.

For months, Renia details how Jews were rounded up and packed onto trains in the middle of the night to be taken to their deaths into labour camps deep in Russia.

Amid the horror, she describes meeting her first and only love – who ended up being the reason her diary survived.

She pens detailed accounts of their first kiss, and second, saying: "It felt so nice, but you know, it wasn’t fiery or wild, but somehow delicate and careful, almost fearful – as if we didn’t want to extinguish something that was growing between us."

She added: "I love those green eyes. We kissed for the second time today."

Their romance, which seemed to flurry between on and off every other week, was quickly interrupted by war.

Days after their second kiss, Reina wrote on June 26: "I can’t write. I’m weak with fear. War again, war between Russia and Germany.

"The Germans were here, then they retreated. Horrible days in the basement. Dear Lord, give me my Mamma, save all of us who have stayed here and those who escaped the city this morning. Save us, save Zygus."

A whirlwind of violence followed, with executions by Nazi authorities commonplace and Jews forced to wear armbands at all times.

Then, in 1942, Renia was locked inside a ghetto along with some 20,000 other Jews, watched over by Nazi guards day and night.

In her diary, she vividly described her despair and misery while living there, though still finding joy spending time in the garden with her love.

But again any happiness that remained was replaced by the horrors of the genocide, as ghetto police demanded enormous fees from all residents – deportation to a death camp was the penalty for failure to pay.

The final entry was made on July 31 1942 by Zygus, who wrote that his ‘world was ending’.

"Three shots! Three lives lost! It happened last night at 10.30pm.

"Fate decided to take my dearest ones away from me. My life is over.

"All I can hear are shots, shots shots….My dearest Renusia, the last chapter of your diary is complete."

Zygus was taken to Auschwitz but managed to survive being examined by Dr Mengele – who performed deadly examinations on prisoners and deemed who was fit to work in the camps, or who would be sent to the gas chambers to be killed.

The young boy fled to New York with Renia’s mother Roza and sister Ariana to start a new life with new names as Catholics.

In the 1950s, Zygus tracked them down and gave them the diary – but still too distraught to read it, the family kept it locked in a safety deposit box in a Chase bank in Manhattan.

It was only when Ariana told her own daughter Alexandra about it, that its contents started to be revealed.

She became fixated on learning about her aunt, and in 2014 sent extracts to a Polish student to translate.

Two years later it was published in 2016, and turned into a film and play, and now, another two years later, published in English.

Part of the prologue to the book says: "Readers will naturally contrast Renia’s diary with Anne Frank’s.

"Renia was a little older and more sophisticated, writing frequently in poetry as well as in prose. She was also living out in the world instead of in seclusion.

"Reading such different firsthand accounts reminds us that each of the Holocaust’s millions of victims had a unique and dramatic experience.

"At a time when the Holocaust has receded so far into the past that even the youngest survivors are elderly, it’s especially powerful to discover a youthful voice like Renia’s, describing the events in real time."

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