Excerpted and adapted from "Salvaged Pages: Young Writers' Diaries of the Holocaust," a collection of fifteen diaries edited by Alexandra Zapruder and published by Yale University Press, New Haven, Connecticut.

Moshe Ze'ev Flinker was born in The Hague on October 9, 1926. Moshe's father, Noah Eliezer Flinker, was originally from Poland and had become a wealthy businessman in Holland. Apart from this rather scant information, details of the family history and background remain obscure.

After the German invasion and occupation of Holland in May 1940, the Flinkers remained in The Hague, subjected to an increasing series of restrictions against Jews. Moshe wrote in his diary of being expelled from public places, being forced to wear the yellow star, and hearing news of the concentration of Jews in Amsterdam. In July 1942, the Flinkers received a deportation notice, which prompted Moshe's father to take his family into hiding in Brussels. They journeyed illegally across the border and, thanks in part to Moshe's father's wealth, they were able to obtain false identity papers to allow them to pass as non-Jews. Like their Dutch counterparts, the Belgian Jews were living under intensely repressive measures and were being routinely deported to the East. But it worked to the Flinkers' advantage that they were unknown in Brussels and were not listed on any records testifying to their Jewish ancestry.

Moshe began his diary in November 1942. His early entries read less like those of a diary and more like a treatise on the subject of the persecution of the Jews under the Nazis and its meaning in a religious Jewish context. Faced as he was with the unprecedented persecution of the Jews of Europe in his own time, Moshe endeavored to reconcile his deeply held religious beliefs with the troubling reality that surrounded him. As Moshe voiced it in the diary, "What can God intend by all these calamities that are happening to us in this terrible period?"

Moshe ended his diary in September 1943. Though he was engulfed by desolation, he ended his diary affirming his faith in God, closing it with the words, "the end of my diary, thanks to the Lord." He and his family were caught in their apartment in Brussels eight months later, on the eve of the first night of Passover, apparently informed on by a well-known Belgian collaborator. The Flinkers were taken first to the Belgian transit camp Malines, and from there to Auschwitz-Birkenau. Moshe and his parents were sent immediately to the gas chambers, where they were murdered. His five sisters and brother survived Auschwitz and returned to their hiding place in Belgium after the war, where they recovered the surviving notebook of Moshe's diary.

November 26, 1942
[.] We are in a very bad situation. Our sufferings have by far exceeded our wrongdoings. What other purpose could the Lord have in allowing such things to befall us? I feel certain that further troubles will not bring any Jew back to the paths of righteousness; on the contrary, I think that upon experiencing such great anguish they will think that there is no God at all in the universe, because had there been a God He would not have let such things happen to His people. [.]

December 2, morning [1942]
The victor in this war that we are living through will not be either of the opposing sides, but God; not England and not America, but the Lord of Israel will triumph. I think that before this final victory, Germany will win on almost all fronts, and when it will seem that she has almost won, the Lord will approach with His sword and will conquer. Obviously my outlook is a religious one. I hope to be excused for this, for had I not religion, I would never find any answer at all to the problems that confront me. [.]

December 3, morning[1942]
[.] The Russian offensive on the eastern front continues, but I think nothing will come of it. No news from the other fronts. Today is the eve of Hanukkah but I have the feeling that this Hanukkah will pass, as have so many others, without a miracle or anything resembling one.

December 8, night[1942]
[.] During the past few days when my mother raised the question of my future, my reaction was again one of laughter, but when I was alone, I too began to ponder this matter. What indeed is to become of me? It is obvious that the present situation will not last forever--perhaps another year or two--but what will happen then? One day I will have to earn my own living. [...] After much deliberation, I've decided to become...a statesman. Not any sort of statesman, but a Jewish statesman in the Land of Israel. Even though it would take a miracle to free us now, the rest of my idea--living in our land--isn't so far-fetched. Then, perhaps the rest of the world might slightly change its attitude toward us. [.]

December 12, Saturday evening [1942]
Thursday was the last night of Hanukkah. My father, young brother, and I lit the candles that we had obtained, though not without difficulty. While I was singing the last stanza of the Hanukkah hymn Maoz Tzur [Rock of Ages] I was deeply struck by the topicality of the words:

Reveal Thy sacred mighty arm
And draw redemption near
Take Thy revenge upon that
Wicked people (!) that has shed the blood
Of those who worship Thee
Our deliverance has been long overdue,
Evil days are endless,
Banish the foe, destroy the shadow of his image
Provide us with a guiding light.

All our troubles, from the first to this most terrible one, are multiple and endless, and from all of them rises one gigantic scream. From wherever it emanates, the cry that rises is identical to the cries in other places or at other times. When I sang Maoz Tzur for the last time on Hanukkah I sang with emphasis--especially the last verse. But later when I sat on my own I asked myself: "What was the point of that emphasis? What good are all the prayers I offer up with so much sincerity? I am sure that more righteous sages than I have prayed in their hour of anguish for deliverance and salvation. What merit have I that I should pray for our much-needed redemption?" And then I thought about our first and best leader, Moses. He too was all alone [.]. Nevertheless, he reached the status of Prophet of Prophets and Prince of Princes. He did not attain his stature easily as he had to work and enslave his spirit for eighty years, as our teachers have carefully pointed out. Only after eighty years was he worthy. [.]

December 14, midnight [1942]
Yesterday I went to the movies with my sister. When I was still in The Hague, before it was occupied by the Germans, I didn't go to the cinema much. After the Germans had been in Holland for some time, they forbade the Jews to go to the cinema. [.] But here, in Belgium, where I am not registered as a Jew, I can go to the movies. In any case, there is not the same strictness here. When we arrived, only the anti-Semitic cinema proprietors had notices posted in front denying entrance to Jews. Now, however, in front of every theater is posted: "By order of the Germans, entrance to Jews is forbidden."[.]

December 22, 1942, morning
Last Friday afternoon, as I was about to finish my Arabic studies, my father came in and told me that he had some bad news. He had heard that many Jews were dying in the East, and that a hundred thousand had already been killed. When I heard this, my heart stood still and I was speechless with pain and shock. I had been fearing this for a long time, but I had hoped against hope that they really had taken the Jews for forced labor and that that therefore they would have to feed, clothe, and house them enough ot keep them alive. Now my last hopes have been dashed. [.]

February 12, 1943
During recent days an emptiness has formed inside me. Nothing motivates me to do anything or write anything, and no new ideas enter my mind; everything is as if asleep. Although I do not know from where this emptiness has come, I can feel it with my whole body. When I pray I feel as if I am praying to the wall and am not heard at all, and there is a voice inside me that says: "What are you praying for? The Lord does not hear you." [.] Yes, I think that the holy spark I always felt within me has been taken from me, and here I am, without spirit, without thought, without anything, and all I have is my miserable body. I don't know what I will do. [.]

In the past few days the Germans have been continuously retreating, as they themselves admit. [.] Now everyone is thinking that the war will end soon. [.] My father is full of hope. But despite the fact that all, and especially the Jews, are hopeful and even a bit joyous, the Germans continue to pick up Jews as if nothing had happened. Nearly all the Jews we knew when we came here have been deported. [.]

July 4, 1943
It has again been two weeks since I last wrote in my diary, despite all the promises I made to myself last time. What can I do? Several times during the past two weeks I took my diary in hand but I did not open it because I had nothing to write. I still am hopeful from day to day and from week to week; despite the repeated disappointments I have suffered I shall never stop hoping, because the moment I stop hoping I shall cease to exist. All I have is hope; my entire being depends on it. And at the same time I have nothing. What will these useless hopes bring me? I don't know what to do. Everything is becoming hollow. Formerly, when I took up the Bible and read it, it was as if I had returned to life, as if the Lord had taken pity on me; even in my darkest moments I found consolation in Him. Now even this is denied me, all seems lifeless, it does not enthuse me. [.]

September 6, 1943
[.] Now that I have reached the end of the first notebook of my diary, feelings of thankfulness come over me: first to our Lord, the Lord of Israel, who has protected me and my family in such terrible times, and who has given me the privilege of understanding and knowing His divine guidance and heavenly protection; and second, my thoughts turn to my teacher, my master, and my guide-Mr. Grebel-whose memory has not left me from the moment I left the Hague, and about whom I have written little because I did not feel that my soul was pure enough to speak of this most beloved and dear man.

My Lord, so close art Thou to me and yet so far. I search for Thee constantly, my thoughts go out unto Thee, and my acts as well. My Lord, my Lord, do not abandon me. Hearken to my pleading voice, and have mercy and compassion on me.

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