The most effective quotes from Zlata's Diary are ones where the terror of war can be seen through a child's eyes.
Zlata's Diary enables us to see how a child sees war. The result is war's inhumanity is displayed in a very poignant way. One example is when Zlata personalizes the war experience:
That’s my life! The life of an innocent eleven-year-old schoolgirl!! A schoolgirl without school, without the fun and excitement of school. A child without games, without friends, without the sun, without birds, without nature, without fruit, without chocolate or sweets, with just a little powdered milk. In short, a child without a childhood. A wartime child.
When talking about war, we get lost in how human beings are uprooted. Borders and military objectives diminish when we see how war permanently alters people's lives. Zlata captures this reality when she talks about how her childhood has been robbed because of war. She has lost innocence, "fun and excitement," and "the sun." I find this quote meaningful because it brings a human account to war's political dimension.
Zlata's personalized view of war is enhanced when she sees what the conflict is doing to her parents. Children look to their parents for guidance. Despite what parents say, kids observe their parents' facial reactions to indicate the reality of a situation. Upon doing this, Zlata writes about how war weakens the people who have to endure it:
...I look over at Mommy and Daddy. ... Somehow they look even sadder to me in the light of the oil lamp. ... God, what is this war doing to my parents? They don’t look like my old Mommy and Daddy anymore. Will this ever stop? Will our suffering stop so that my parents can be what they used to be cheerful, smiling, nice-looking?
The most poignant part of this quote is how Zlata yearns for the "cheerful, smiling, nice-looking" parents she used to know. There was a time when Zlata's family loved life, and drank from its cup without hesitation. The war has robbed them of the joy they once knew. Zlata's words illuminate the yearning and ache that comprise war's psychological footprint.
Finally, I think that one of the most random details in the diary is also one of Zlata's most effective piece of writing. She writes about the stray animals that have emerged because of the war:
There are lots of beautiful pedigree dogs roaming the streets. Their owners probably had to let them go because they couldn’t feed them anymore. Sad. Yesterday I watched a cocker spaniel cross the bridge, not knowing which way to go. He was lost.
For a child, the suffering of animals is one of the most painful elements. When Zlata writes about how the cocker spaniel did not know which way to go, she is mourning. She mourns not just for the lost dog, but for herself. She identifies herself with the dog. Like the dog, Zlata is also not "spared by the war" and does not know where to go or what to do. Her identification with the dog's predicament is another quote that notably illuminates war's pain.