Karen’s post about the Augustus Griffin diaries gave me a pang not out of personal diary-keeping aspirations (I’ve tried and failed too many times to hold that as a serious ambition), but because of how interesting Griffin’s diaries sounded.
I didn’t see the exhibit, but I remember how excited I was to learn that one of my aunts was transcribing my grandfather’s diary entries. I was dying to get my hands on them; he was born around the turn of the 20th century and was a pastor in a village in Germany at the time of his first entry — 1940. Growing up, I’d heard a few stories about those years, how Nazi soldiers passed through the village, boiling leather to make soup. I couldn’t wait to read his thoughts. In a time of such fear and censorship, I doubted he would say what he thought about the Nazis. But I figured he might record what he talked about in church, or what biblical passages he read to his parishoners.
Alas, I had no such luck. The diary focused almost exclusively on the birth and activities of his children: Inga was born in the evening at 9:25 Daylight Saving-Time (8:25 Central European Time), six months later she had her first bite of porridge, said “babababab” and “mememem” and “ni” and “brr,” and so on. There are incidental references to gas rationing — my grandmother had to travel to the larger town of Marburg to give birth — and one very gripping passage about the birth of my aunt Maria, in 1945, when the Allies were carpet bombing the city. But the events are presented without commentary, just as facts.
Have you read any of your ancestors’ diaries, or any other historical diaries? What did you think?