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Masha Rolnikaite

Author of Ich muss erzählen: Mein Tagebuch. 1941-1945

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Masha Rolnikaite was born in Klaipedia, Lithuania, to a Jewish family. Her father Hirsch Rolnik was a lawyer who had trained in Germany. She and her siblings grew up speaking both Lithuanian and German. In 1939, the family moved to Vilnius (Vilna), nicknamed the "Jerusalem of the North" as the center of a rich Jewish culture. The following year, during World War II, Lithuania was annexed by the Soviet Union, which in turn was invaded in 1941 by Germany. Under the Nazis, Jews were deprived of their rights, persecuted, forced into the Vilnius Ghetto, and then murdered in mass killings. Masha Rolnikaitės kept a diary of her experiences that began with the outbreak of the war. She survived the Ghetto and the Kaiserwald and Strasdenhof concentration camps, and the Stutthof extermination camp. She was liberated by the Red Army. Her mother Taiba and two younger siblings died in the Holocaust. During times when it became too dangerous to preserve the pages of her diary, Masha had memorized the entries, and destroyed the original pages. After the war, she returned to Vilnius and began to restore the diary. It was first published in Yiddish in 1963 as I Must Tell: My Diary from 1941 to 1945, with some censorship by the Lithuanian authorities. A Russian translation, also censored, was allowed to appear in 1965. The diary was translated into 18 other languages ​​and was first published in East Germany in 1967. An autobiographical sequel appeared in 2000 in Russian under the title What Came Afterwards in the magazine Der Stern. Masha Rolnikaite studied at the Maxim Gorky Literature Institute in Moscow and became a novelist who writes in Russian. She lives in St. Petersburg.
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