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The Girl in the Diary

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

January 24 – August 30, 2020 

“Oh, to write!… To be able to write, to make pen move on paper! I need to write.” -Rywka Lipszyc, Litzmannstadt Ghetto

On the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau Camp, Jewish Museum is honored to exhibit The Girl in the Diary: Searching for Rywka from the Łódź Ghetto, on loan from the Galicia Museum in Kraków, Poland

In 1945 a Soviet doctor found a school notebook in the liberated Auschwitz-Birkenau Camp. It was a diary written by the teenager Rywka Lipszyc in the Łódź Ghetto between October 1943 and April 1944 — the testament of a Jewish girl who lost her siblings and parents, but never lost hope despite moments of doubt. More than 60 years after its discovery, the diary traveled to the United States to the Holocaust Center of Northern California where Dr. Anita Friedman began the task of trying to locate answers about the notebook and its writer. An international research team was established – all them looking for answers and for Rywka Lipszyc. 

Rywka’s diary, a moving memoir of life and adolescence in the Łódź Ghetto, is the starting point for this exhibition. Selected passages are supplemented by expert commentary from historians, doctors, psychologists and rabbis. These commentaries help us to understand the context of the times and events Rywka refers to in her diary. The historical and intimate artifacts displayed in the exhibit, including beads, thimbles, and toys, serve as witness to the personal dimensions of the Holocaust.  

The story presented in the exhibit is mainly that of women – the women who fought for survival in the Łódź Ghetto, in concentration camps. It is filled with their pain and longing, their fear, their daily battles, their courage. And at its heart, it is the story of a journey in search of Rywka and her fate – a story still being written. 

Schedule your adult or student group for a special tour today!
Click here to learn more.

Created by the Galicia Jewish Museum, Kraków, Poland.

Thank you to our generous exhibit sponsors: Koret Foundation · Bader Philanthropies · Harri Hoffmann Family Foundation · Anonymous Individual · Anonymous Foundation · Bernard and Robin Cohen · Richard and Nina Edelman · Suzy B. Ettinger* · Nathan and Esther Pelz Holocaust Education Resource Center · Werner L Loewenstein Memorial Endowment · Jeffrey M. and Jody E. Steren* · Teen Philanthropy, a program of the Milwaukee Jewish Federation · University of Wisconsin Milwaukee – The Sam and Helen Stahl Center for Jewish Studies
* Donor Advised Fund of the Jewish Community Foundation
Media Sponsor: Shepherd Express · Wisconsin Public Radio


Opening Preview
Thursday, January 23, 7:00 – 9:00 PM 
United States Premiere
Join Jakub Nowakowski, Director of the Galicia Jewish Museum in Kraków where the exhibit was first created and displayed, to hear about the creation and history of The Girl in the Diary: Searching for Rywka from the Łódź Ghetto.

Holocaust Diaries: An Intimate View into History
Wednesday, February 12, 7:00 – 8:30 PM
Rachel Baum, Deputy Director of the Sam & Helen Stahl Center for Jewish Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, will explore the importance of Holocaust diaries, which not only reveal important truths about lived experiences of the Shoah, but often show the efforts of their authors to maintain a sense of identity in the most traumatic of times.

LOMED Book Club- The Diary of Dawid Sierakowiak: Five Notebooks from the Łódź Ghetto
Thursday, February 20,  6:30 – 8:30 pm
Join us for a LOMED Book Club to discuss The Diary of Dawid Sierakowiak: Five Notebooks from the Łódź Ghetto, the diary of a young man describing the relentless horror of the Łódź Ghetto while repeated rallying himself and his family against fear and pessimism. A LOMED (Learning Opportunity for Milwaukee Educators) program offered by the Coalition for Jewish Learning and co-sponsored by Jewish Museum Milwaukee and Nathan and Esther Pelz Holocaust Education Resource Center.

Ghetto Chronicles Part I- Who Will Write Our History
Film Screening and Talk-Back
Tuesday, February 25, 7:00 – 9:00 PM
Rubenstein Pavilion at Ovation Communities (1414 N Prospect Ave.)
Led by historian Emanuel Ringelblum and known by the code name Oyneg Shabes, a clandestine group of journalists, scholars, and community leaders in the Warsaw Ghetto vowed to defeat Nazi lies and propaganda not with guns or fists but with pen and paper. Then join Amy Shapiro, Program Director of Philosophy and Women’s and Gender Studies at Alverno College, for a talk-back to explore the significance of the Oyneg Shabes in the history of the Warsaw ghetto. Sponsored by Nathan and Esther Pelz Holocaust Education Resource Center. In partnership with Ovation Communities.

The Book of You: Memoir Workshop
Sunday, March 8, 12:00 – 3:00 PM
In the face of despair, young Rywka Lipszyc turned to writing as a way to process her loss and get some small measure of control over the chaotic world around her. Join Kim Suhr of Red Oak Writing to explore what makes a good story for a memoir project and craft your own draft.

Reschedule for 2021: Ghetto Chronicles Part II- Life and Death in the Łódź Ghetto with author and historian Sam Kassow
Thursday, March 26, 7:00 PM – 8:30 PM
Join Sam Kassow, historian and author of Who Will Write Our History? Rediscovering a Hidden Archive From the Warsaw Ghetto, for an in-depth look at the unique culture of the Łódź ghetto. Explore the questions: How can we judge ghetto leaders like Rumkowski? And what lessons can we learn from the experience of Łódź? Co-sponsored by Nathan and Esther Pelz Holocaust Education Resource Center and The Sam and Helen Stahl Center for Jewish Studies.

Rescheduled for 2021: How to Talk to Your Kids About the Holocaust
Wednesday, April 1, 7:00 – 8:30 PM
Join Simone Schweber, Chair of Education at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, in this interactive workshop where we’ll combine pair-and-share, small-group work, open large-group discussion and lecture to figure out how to talk to young kids about the Holocaust—yours or others. Sponsored by Nathan and Esther Pelz Holocaust Education Resource Center and Young Leadership Division of the Milwaukee Jewish Federation; in partnership with Coalition for Jewish Learning and Milwaukee Jewish Day School.

Rescheduled for 2021: Ghetto Chronicles Part III- Ghetto: Invention of Place and History of an Idea
Wednesday, April 29, 7:00 – 8:30 PM
Join Mitchell Duneier, department chair of Sociology at Princeton University, as he traces the idea of the ghetto from its beginnings in the sixteenth century and its revival by the Nazis to present-day African-American ghettos.

Polish Jewish Rebirth and the Rise of Nationalism
Tuesday, May 5, 7:00 – 8:30 PM
Join Jonathan Ornstein, the Executive Director of the Jewish Community Centre of Krakow, and Neal Pease, History Professor at University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, for an exploration of contemporary Poland, from the current government leanings and the rise of Nationalism to the Jewish Renewal movement.

Rescheduled for 2021: Fashion Metropolis Berlin
Sunday, May 17, 4:00 – 5:30 pm
Join author of Fashion Metropolis Berlin, Uwe Westphal, as he brings to life Berlin’s fashionable past describing the rise and destruction of the Jewish fashion industry from 1836 – 1939. Book sale and signing will immediately follow the lecture. Sponsored by Jody and Jeff Steren Donor Advised Fund of the Jewish Community Foundation.

Click here for a full list of programs at Jewish Museum Milwaukee.