The Maltz Museum announces a new special exhibition making its Cleveland premiere in fall of 2023. The Girl in the Diary: Searching for Rywka from Lodz Ghetto tells the remarkable story of 1945, when a Soviet doctor found a school notebook in the liberated Auschwitz-Birkenau Camp that had been written by a teenager named Rywka Lipszyc during her incarceration in the Lodz Ghetto from October 1943 to April 1944. It is the testament of a Jewish girl who lost her siblings and parents, but never lost hope despite moments of doubt. Through excerpts from the diary, expert commentary, photos, multimedia, and historical artifacts, the exhibition allows visitors to briefly walk the streets of the Lodz ghetto and get to know one of its residents, Rywka Lipszyc. For more information, ticket pricing, and group tour discounts, visit www.maltzmuseum.org or call 216-593-0575.
“We are proud to bring The Girl in the Diary from Kraków to Cleveland. The exhibition is a powerful testament to the devastating human loss of the Holocaust and a call to action to double down on our commitment to building a more inclusive future,” said Dr. Sarah Spinner Liska, Chair of the Maltz Museum’s Special Exhibitions Committee.
The public is invited to celebrate the opening of the Maltz Museum’s newest special exhibition, The Girl in the Diary: Searching for Rywka from Lodz Ghetto at an exciting launch event on Wednesday, October 25, from 7:00 pm to 8:45 pm. Go behind the scenes with a representative from the Galicia Jewish Museum in Poland, where the exhibition originated, to learn how The Girl in the Diary was brought to life as an exhibition that would travel the world. Discover where Rywka’s story has been told and how it has been received nationally and internationally. Then, explore the exhibition yourself with a guided tour and opportunity for Q&A. Event tickets are $10 per person & free for members of the Maltz Museum. Seating is limited, advance registration is highly encouraged. To register: www.maltzmuseum.org or 216-593-0575.
The Girl in the Diary special exhibition was developed by The Galicia Museum in Poland. Curator Tomasz Strug said, “Working on this exhibition we never found a photograph of Rywka Lipszyc. Despite this, the exhibition has a very strong visual photographic component. As there are vast archives of the photographs documenting the daily life and struggle in the Lodz Ghetto, designing the exhibition we utilized a number of photographs made by the three most known photographers working there. I like to think that somewhere in those photographs or in one of the thousands of other archival pictures taken in the Lodz Ghetto there is Rywka smiling at us, only we do not know this yet.”
The archival photographs illustrating the story of Rywka Lipszyc are the work of the three most famous photographers of the Lodz Ghetto: Henryk Ross, Mendel Grossman, and Walter Genewein, who preserved the realities of ghetto life on color slides. Stored in closed containers, underground, in hiding, many have suffered partial damage. They present only part of the picture captured on the slide. They are fragmentary, just like the whole story of Rywka, which — like these negatives — had to wait many years to be brought to light.
Jakub Nowakowski, former Director of the Galicia Jewish Museum, said, “The unchained voice of this Orthodox Jewish girl reaching us so many years after the Holocaust, her unshakable faith and devotion, but also restless efforts of the countless people from various continents to identify the author of texts and finally, the mystery surrounding her fate – this was all material for a fascinating and thought-provoking exhibition. We knew it right away.”
Unique historical artifacts and documents combine to tell the story of The Girl in the Diary, which is mainly, but not exclusively, the story of women. Most wartime narratives and memories of the German occupation concentrate on the fate of men — soldiers, politicians, leaders. In Rywka’s world, the perspective is the opposite. Men appear in the diary, but remain in the background. They are present, but not dominant. The world we get to know from Rywka’s diary is populated by women and its structure is created by relations between them. It is filled with their pain and longing, their courage and daily battles, their fear.
The exhibition concentrates on this aspect, bringing visitors into the world of the women Rywka describes in her diary. In order to not interfere with this unique narrative, all the commentaries used to supplement the text of the diary were also prepared by women. The idea for commentaries strongly refers to the Jewish tradition of explaining and interpreting sacred texts. In this symbolic way, the exhibition refers to Rywka’s devotion to the tradition in which she grew up, to her unwavering faith in God and God’s care.
The Girl in the Diary: Searching for Rywka from Lodz Ghetto will be on view October 25, 2023 – April 28, 2024 at the Maltz Museum (2929 Richmond Road, Beachwood; 216-593-0575; www.maltzmuseum.org).
The Girl in the Diary: Searching for Rywka from Lodz Ghetto at the Maltz Museum is presented in cooperation with the Galicia Jewish Museum, Krakow, Poland.
The Girl in the Diary: Searching for Rywka from Lodz Ghetto is sponsored by the Ohio History Connection, John P. Murphy Foundation, Irving and Gloria Fine Foundation, Alan and Barbara Rosskamm Philanthropic Fund, Rina Frankel: In memory of Samuel M. Frankel who survived the Lodz Ghetto and Auschwitz, The Ohio Holocaust and Genocide Memorial and Education Commission, and many other generous supporters.