The diary of a Jewish boy in Poland (1940-42)

David Rubinowicz was a Jewish boy living in Warsaw. The following extracts are taken from his diary, which he began shortly after the Nazi occupation. David was moved into the Warsaw Ghetto in 1940. There he worked for the Jewish resistance, smuggling food. David and his family were gassed to death in Treblinka in 1942. He was 14 years old.

March 21st 1940
“Early in the morning, I was walking through the village where we live. From a long way off I saw a notice on the wall of the shop; I went up quickly to read it. The new notice said that Jews were not allowed to travel in vehicles any more (it has been forbidden to go on trains for a long time).”

April 4th 1940
“I got up earlier today because I wanted to go to Kielce. I left the house after breakfast. I felt unhappy going through the lanes alone like that. After walking for four hours, I arrived in Kielce. When I got to my uncle’s house, I saw that they were all sitting there depressed, and heard that the Jews had been evacuated from different streets, and I was overcome with sadness too.”

April 5th 1940
“I could not sleep all night. Strange thoughts were going through my head. After breakfast, I went home.”

June 9th 1940
“Today there were German military exercises. All the soldiers were scattered over the fields. They set up machine guns and shot at each other.”

June 18th 1940
“The police searched our house today for some military things or other. The policeman asked me where the things were and I answered all the time that there weren’t any and that was that. Anyway, they did not find anything and went away again.”

August 5th 1940
“Yesterday the watchman from the parish council called in at the mayor’s [office]. All Jews had to go with their families and register at the council building. We were already there at 7 o’clock in the morning. We were there for several hours. Then the older ones elected a Council of Elders. Then we went home.”

August 12th 1940
“Ever since the war I have been studying at home on my own. When I think of how I used to go to school, I could cry. But now I must sit here. I’m not allowed to go out anywhere. And when I think what wars are going on in the world, and how many people are killed every day by bullets, gas, bombs, epidemics and other enemies of man, I lose interest in everything.”

September 1st 1940
“Today is the first anniversary of the outbreak of war. I am thinking about all that has happened to us in this short time, how much misfortune we have had already.”

July 10th 1941
“A very hard time has begun. It is difficult to get through a single hour. We always used to have a little food put by, at least enough for a month. But now it is difficult to buy enough food for one day. A day does not go by but someone comes begging. Everybody who comes wants something to eat, nothing else, which is now the most difficult thing.”

January 8th 1942
“I learned this afternoon that there were two more victims among the Jews in Bodzentyn. One was already dead, the other wounded. They have arrested the one who was wounded and taken him to the guard room in Bieliny. They will beat him to death there.”

January 11th 1942
“Since early morning there have been snowstorms and heavy frost. Today the temperature was [minus] 20 degrees Celsius. As I was watching the wind sweeping over the fields, I noticed that the village watchman was pasting up a notice. I went at once to see what was new. There was nothing new on the notice. The watchman only said that he had brought notices to the mayor that all Jews had to be evacuated from all villages. When I told them at home, we were all very depressed. Now, in such a hard winter, they are going to evacuate us. Where? Where to? Now our turn has come to bear great suffering. The Lord knows, how long for.”