Renia Knoll’s Diary

A story

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A story

On the square in Cracow, there are standing two girls. This one is wearing an armband and that one is wearing an armband: this one on her right arm and that one on her left arm. One of them has a white band with a blue star on it. She is Jewish. The other one has a red band with a black swastika. She is German. The eyes of the first one are deep and black and of the second, grey and steely. The black eyes of the Jewish child are filled with tears and humiliation. The other one’s are filled with pride and contempt. Sydzia is looking joyfully at the German girl. They used to go to the same school; they learned together; they were friends. Will Hildzia recognize her or not? The same soil had fed them!

After a moment of hesitation, Sydzia is running towards Hildzia...but Hildzia, is it her? What is she doing? She turns around and starts staring at Sydzia with her proud eyes. And yes, she recognizes her but now she is something superior to Sydzia. She doesn’t know her. Make this kike girl go away. She will embarrass her. Go away! The German girl whispers. In this moment somebody tugs at Syldzia’s collar. You damn kike! Somebody is shouting. Sydzia can see Hildzia turn around from her in laughter. And the Jewish girl’s heart broke and huge tears are running down her face...

Renia Knoll, 18th June 1940, age 13, Cracow.


Knoll, “The Diary”, Warsaw 2012; diary from JHI’s collections.

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