Page from Stanislava Roztropowicz’s diary

Diaries and Journals

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Diaries bear witness to some of the most heart-breaking experiences of the Holocaust. They are a "real time" record of an individual's life. They also document the fear, loss, trauma, and sometimes even the hope felt by human beings facing extreme peril. 

The Museum’s collection of diaries written during the war gives voice to some of the victims and survivors of Nazism. 

The writers of these diaries documented a range of experiences, from daily life in Nazi-established ghettos and concentration camps to the search for refuge in America. Young writers in particular used diaries to record their experiences, confide their feelings, and reflect on the trauma they endured during the nightmare years of World War II and the Holocaust.

In addition, the US Holocaust Memorial Museum Library curates a digital Survivor Memoir Collection. This collection makes digital versions of survivor memoirs, family histories, and other self-published works widely available to those interested in learning more about individual and family Holocaust experiences. Like diaries, these personal accounts provide a poignant record of history. 

Today, historians study diaries and personal letters from the 1930s and 1940s to better understand how ordinary people experienced the Holocaust and World War II.

We invite you to explore some of these priceless records of a devastating time in human history.

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We would like to thank Crown Family Philanthropies, Abe and Ida Cooper Foundation, the Claims Conference, EVZ, and BMF for supporting the ongoing work to create content and resources for the Holocaust Encyclopedia. View the list of donor acknowledgement.