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The Girl in the Diary: Searching for Rywka from the Lodz Ghetto

Special Exhibitions Gallery
May 18 - September 24, 2023

In 1945, a Soviet doctor found a school notebook in the liberated Auschwitz-Birkenau Camp. It was a diary, written by a Jewish girl named Rywka Lipszyc, in the Lodz Ghetto between October 1943 and April 1944. Rwyka’s diary is a moving memoir of life and adolescence in the Lodz Ghetto and paints a moving portrait of a girl who never lost hope, despite losing her siblings and parents.

More than 60 years after its discovery, the diary traveled to the United States, where it was translated and published as a book. That book is the inspiration behind this exhibition, The Girl in the Diary, which displays excerpts of Rywka Lipszyc’s diary alongside expert commentary from historians, doctors, psychologists, and rabbis. The exhibition also features several artifacts from museums in Poland, the United States, Israel, Germany, and Belgium, including historical objects from the Lodz Ghetto and Chelmno (Kulmhof) Death Camp.

The archival photographs that illustrate Rywka’s story were captured by the three most famous photographers in the Lodz Ghetto: Henryk Ross, Mendel Grossman, and Walter Genewein. Many of these photos were stored in closed containers, underground, in hiding, and suffered partial damage. They present only part of picture and are fragmented, just like Rywka’s story, which — like the film negatives — had to wait many years to be brought to light.

Despite intensive searches and a large collection of photographs from the Lodz Ghetto, to date, no photo of Rywka Lipszyc has been found.

Illinois Holocaust Museum’s presentation of The Girl in the Diary is made possible with generous support from:

Additional Funders

Golder Family Foundation

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