Diary of boy, 11, who killed himself rather than be taken to Nazis, is given to Yad Vashem

Jerzyk Feliks Urman recorded the last two months of his life and is believed to be the only child suicide in the Holocaust


A diary written by an 11-year-old Jewish boy who swallowed a cyanide capsule to die, rather than be captured by Nazi officers he believed had come to raid the house he was hiding in, is to be donated to Yad Vashem. 

The Israeli Holocaust remembrance centre will translate the diary of Jerzyk Urman, believed to be the only child suicide recorded in its extensive archive.

His harrowing story was discovered by British author Anthony Rudolf, the young victim’s second cousin once removed.

Mr Rudolf has decided to give the diary to Yad Vashem in order to preserve it and so that it can be translated into Hebrew “to ensure the tragic but brave story of a young boy is told”. 

Jerzyk Feliks Urman killed himself in 1943 thinking the Gestapo was about to raid the house he was hiding in. They had not. He was 11 and a half years old. 

He had been hiding with his family in Drohobycz during the German occupation of East Galicia, now western Ukraine. 

He kept a diary during the two months before he died, which Mr Rudolf, 76, from East Finchley, north London, published in 1991 as a translation from a family copy of the original.

The original copy of the boy’s diary was discovered later, among the papers of his mother, Sophie Urman, who survived the war and went to live in Tel Aviv.

It was found alongside her own diary which revealed the heart-breaking details of her loss during the war.

According to Mr Rudolf, who published a book about the story in 2015, Jerzyk “had decided he would not be taken to the death camps.

His diary shows him to have been unlike your average 11-year-old. He had seen things no child should have.”
Jerzyk’s diary will be preserved by the museum and a transcript of it in Hebrew will be made available on its archives online. 

Mr Rudolf said: “I’ve always intended to leave the child’s and his mother’s diary to the museum. They are so frail and need protecting and it seems like now is the right time to send them to their rightful home.”

He believes Jerzyk’s story should be told. “It means a great deal to me that it will be,” Mr Rudolf said.  “He was very brave. He would have been 86 today had he lived. I often think about that.”

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