(photo credit: )
It was February 20, 1943, in Nazi-occupied Poland.
The world was closing in on 14-year-old Rutka Laskier, as the Germans forced the Jews of Bedzin to move into a ghetto ahead of their extermination that summer.
"I have a feeling that I am writing for the last time. There is an Aktion in town. I'm not allowed to go out and I'm going crazy, imprisoned in my own house... For a few days, something's in the air... The town is breathlessly waiting in anticipation, and this anticipation is the worst of all.
"I wish it would end already! This torment; this is hell. I try to escape from these thoughts, of the next day, but they keep haunting me like nagging flies," she wrote.
A month earlier, Laskier had started a diary, detailing in moving and chilling detail the final months of her life.
The diary - some 60 handwritten pages in a notebook now yellowed by age - was presented to Yad Vashem on Monday by 89-year-old Stanislawa Sapinska, a childhood friend of Laskier who kept the diary for more than six decades, until her nephew convinced her to hand it over to the Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Authority for safekeeping.
Laskier's family was living in an apartment belonging to the Sapinskas when the two girls first met, Sapinska said, at a time when the ghetto was still not closed off to non-Jews.
The two confided in each other, and Laskier told Sapinska of the diary she was writing without the knowledge of her family.
Laskier was determined that the diary would survive the war - even if she herself did not - and the two decided that when Laskier was forced out of her home, she would hide the diary underneath the double flooring of a staircase, and that Sapinska would retrieve it and safeguard it.
The Polish woman kept the diary until Monday. Her nephew called it "the history of a nation."
"I cannot grasp that it is already 1943, four years since this hell began," the diary begins, in an entry dated January 19, 1943.
"I would like to pour out on paper all the turmoil I am feeling inside," Laskier wrote on January 27.
A week later, she described her fear of deportation and death.
"The rope around us is getting tighter and tighter. Next month, there should already be a ghetto, a real one, surrounded by walls..." she wrote on February 5.
"Oh good Lord. Well Rutka, you've probably gone completely crazy. You are calling upon God as if he exists. The little faith I used to have has been completely shattered. If God existed, he would have certainly not have permitted that human beings be thrown alive into furnaces, and the heads of little toddlers be smashed with butt of guns or be shoved into sacks and gassed to death...
"Those who haven't seen this would never believe it. But it's not a myth; it's the truth... This is already absurd; it's nothing, as long as there won't be Auschwitz."
The next entry, on February 6, 1943, detailed an Aktion, a German selection of people to be taken to the camps.
"Then I looked beyond the fence and I saw soldiers with machine guns aimed at the square in case someone tried to escape - how could you possible escape from here? People fainted, children cried. In short, Judgment Day.
"'1' meant returning home, '1a' meant going to labor... '2' meant going for further inspection, and '3' meant deportation, in other words, death," she wrote.
"Oh, I forgot the most important thing. I saw how a soldier tore a baby, who was only a few months [old], out of his mother's hands and bashed his head against an electric pylon. The baby's brain splashed on the wood. The mother went crazy. I am writing this as if nothing has happened. As if I were in an army experienced in cruelty. But I'm young, I'm 14 and I haven't seen much in life," she continued.
The next entry, on February 15, contained one of several passages detailing a short-lived romance. "I haven't written in a while. And there was nothing to write about. Maybe just the fact that the Germans have retreated on the Eastern Front, which may signal the nearing of the end of the war. I'm only afraid that we Jews will be finished beforehand."
In one of her final entries, Laskier wrote: If only I could say, it's over, you die only once... But I can't, because despite all these atrocities I want to live, and wait for the following day."
The last entry, on April 24, 1943, came just before her family moved into the ghetto.
In August 1943, Laskier and her family were deported to Auschwitz. Rutka Laskier, along with her brother and mother, were sent to the gas chambers as soon as they arrived.