*This post was adapted from the Preface to the Second Edition of Salvaged Pages: Young Writers’ Diaries of the Holocaust.
When Salvaged Pages: Young Writers' Diaries of the Holocaust was published in 2002, I expected that it would have a typical life span, generating some interest for a while and then tapering off. And then, something unexpected happened. Teachers, organizers of educators’ conferences, and Jewish community leaders who organized local Holocaust education wanted me to show teachers how to use Salvaged Pages in the classroom, and how it could complement instruction on Anne Frank’s Diary of a Young Girl. Salvaged Pages gradually developed into an educational tool over the next decade.
Pages from a diary from the Łódź Ghetto
Now, thirteen years after the first edition’s publication, I have traveled across the United States, teaching the book in a dizzying number of cities. In every context, every time, whether I am with students or teachers, whether they know a little or a lot, we approach the diaries in the same basic way. We open the book and read diary entries aloud, lingering over the words and letting our questions bubble up. Our observations lead us to reflection, to contemplation, and to deeper understanding. And although these texts cannot restore the lives of their writers or redeem their deaths, they can and do preserve memory and complicate, in the best possible way, our understanding of this historical past.
In 2015, I released the second edition of the book. In part, because the genre itself has grown—many new diaries have been published over time—and because of the ongoing role of Salvaged Pages as an educational tool. For many, educational instruction is no longer based on a written text with the occasional accompanying image. Books are digitally animated; websites provide easy access to a wealth of resources; and a variety of platforms allow students and teachers to learn, converse, and share ideas without being in physical proximity to one another. The revised edition of Salvaged Pages reflects a new vision for its educational possibilities and, as such, exists in three related parts: an updated paperback edition, an enhanced electronic book, and an educational website for teachers.
This second edition includes new details about the diaries and is now available as an enhanced e-book, with text definitions, maps, images of diary pages, personal and historical photos, key documents, and oral testimony clips of some of the writers who survived or their close relatives. And, in partnership with Facing History and Ourselves and a team of master teachers, we created a website with wraparound educational materials that offer specific ways to use the diaries for instruction in history, reading analysis, and writing.
In the end, the diaries as historical and literary records of the Holocaust remain the core of Salvaged Pages. It is our hope that this new edition, in its multiple forms, will continue to engage and inspire new generations of readers, and that the words these writers labored to produce as refugees, in hiding, and in ghettoes throughout Nazi Europe, will continue to reverberate among teachers and students, posing new questions, challenging assumptions, and sparking dialogue about the Holocaust and what it means to be human.
Join Alexandra Zapruder on Wednesday May 11 from 4-5p.m. for a webinar exploring Facing History’s new resource, Teaching Salvaged Pages.