Ruth Maier was born in Vienna to a largely assimilated Jewish family. She began keeping a diary at age 13. She wrote about everyday life and about deteriorating conditions for Austria's Jews following Nazi Germany's annexation (Anschluss) of 1938. Ruth's younger sister Judith managed to escape to the United Kingdom. Ruth was able to find temporary refuge in Norway in 1939. She became fluent in Norwegian and befriended the future modernist poet Gunvor Hofmo. Ruth served as a model for a Gustav Vigeland's sculpture called "Surprised" now on permanent display at the Vigeland Park in Oslo, and for a painting by Åsmund Esval. Ruth was arrested in November 1942 and deported to the death camp at Auschwitz, where she died. Gunvor Hofmo kept Ruth's diaries and much of her correspondence. After her death in 1995, author Jan Erik Vold went through her papers and came upon Ruth Maier's diary, which he published in 2007. The book was translated into English in 2009.