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The Diary of Elsa Binder
Transcript of The Diary of Elsa Binder
-Elsa Binder, also known Eliszewa, was born and raised in Stanislawow, Poland.
-Her Diary Begins in December of 1941, around the time the Ghetto was established in Stanislawow.
- She was 21-years-old during the time she wrote
in her diary.
-At the beginning of her entries, Binder was
living with her mother, father, and sister.
- Elsa Binder was a talented writer, mixing straight forward descriptions of life in the ghetto, with a dry humor and wit.
-At times her writing is cynical, welcoming death as liberation, but often she writes of hope, of wanting to experience a full life.
-Her tone is always honest and vulnerable, yet there is a pure strength in her words as well.
-Binder focuses a great deal on the family relationships and friendships in her life.
-She writes about quarrels with family members, even though she loves them immensely.
-She has a delicate relationship with her mother and sees her father as a shell of his former self.
-She says of him, "I see my father...in a beggar's face" (Binder 308)
-There are two entries from an unidentified, second write, most likely a close friend of Binder's
-This writer speaks of the injustices of the world; of the corrupt Jewish council, and the world having turned a blind eye to their predicament
- Stanislawow was always a part of Poland
until 1939 when it was annexed by the Soviet Union
- In 1941 the Germans invaded Poland, and Stanislawow was occupied by the German-allied Hungarians in June, and then by the Germans a month later
-In October of that year there was a massive pogrom (mass killing) of ten thousand Jews in the Polish town
-In December, the Ghetto was established, and Elsa began to write.
- "Yes! I want to live. I want to eat well (butter only appears in my dreams and milk belongs to past memories), I want to dress well...I want intellectual pleasures...I want to love and be loved." (Binder 312)
-One of many vulnerable moments when Binder's writing shines.
-She goes on to say, "At the fresh grave of my peers I think of such trivial things." (Binder 312)
-Her hopes and dreams contrasted with her stark realism
-She says of her mother, "I'm sorry she is so thin-skinned, but I'm bitter that she endowed me with this disposition as well." (Binder 310)
-She often feels that her sightly younger sister is favored by her mother
-Elsa writes of love interests as well: her ex-boyfriend Poldek and a young poet named Sanek are both mentioned.
-She also talks of friends Zyhava and Cip, Frydka and Hulda, Matylda and Siamka
-They used to laugh, she wrote, but it had become so that, "One funny word is enough to feel guilty." (Binder 309)
-During the short time that she was keeping her diary, Eliszewa suffered a great deal of loss.
-Many of her friends were killed while she remained alive in the ghetto.
-She watched as her Grandfather, love-interests, friends, and eventually, her baby sister were taken from her.
-It is assumed that Binder suffered the same fate, her diary was found on the path to a mass grave.
-Elsa Binder is easy to relate to for me firstly, because she was about my age when she wrote the diary.
-She deals with problems with her love life and her family members.
- I feel that I share her combination cynicism and optimism.
"It has arrived. But first flocks of ravens came, those ominous messengers croaking loudly about hunger, disease, and death. A real apocalyptic beast with blasphemies written on its seven heads." (Binder 324)
"Was it a sin to born to a Jewish mother?" (Unidentified Writer 322)
"...mothers are preparing their their children for death. 'Mama, we want to live...' they whine. "Children, since we can't live, we are dying together,' she sobs. How fate rewards her! She can see a newborn's little head crushed under a sadist's boot. And weapons aimed at the pregnant women's bellies." (Binder 316)
Améry, Jean. "On the Necessity and Impossibility of Being a Jew." At the Mind's Limits: Contemplations by a Survivor on Auschwitz and Its Realities. Bloomington: Indiana UP, 1980. 82-101. Print.
Bauman, Janina. "Behind These Walls." Winter in the Morning: A Young Girl's Life in the Warsaw Ghetto and Beyond, 1939-1945. New York: Free, 1986. 324-26. Print.
Binder, Elsa. "Elsa Binder." Salvaged Pages: Young Writers' Diaries of the Holocaust. By Alexandra Zapruder. New Haven: Yale UP, 2002. 301-28. Print.