This Week In History

February 12, 1942

Dawid Rubinowicz was only thirteen years old when he began recording his observations about Jewish life under the Nazi occupation of Poland. Even though he was very young, Dawid had a keen eye for detail and he saw that Nazi persecution came in various forms. He wrote about physical violence in the form of beatings and killings. He told about the suffering that resulted from lack of food and other necessities. He recorded examples of economic crimes such as confiscation of goods and money. On February 12 1942, Dawid related an attack of a different sort – one that was devastating in its own way.

Dawid was in a neighborhood near the “Jewish Quarter” on a snow shoveling detail when he noticed the village constable posting a sign. He recorded his observation of the scene. “It wasn’t a notice but a caricature of the Jews. On it a Jew is shown mincing meat and putting a rat into the mincer. Another is pouring water from a bucket into milk. In the third picture a Jew is shown stamping dough with his feet, and worms are crawling all over him and the dough. The heading of the notice reads: ‘The Jew is a Cheat, Your Only Enemy.’ And the inscription ran as follows:

Dear reader, before your very eyes,
Are the Jews deceiving you with lies.
If you buy your milk from them, beware,
Dirty water they’ve poured in there.
Into the mincer dead rats they throw,
Then as mincemeat it’s put on show.
Worms infest their homemade bread,
Because the dough with feet they tread.

When the village constable had put it up, some people came along, and their laughter gave me a headache from the shame that Jews must suffer nowadays. God give that this shame may soon cease.”

Nazi propaganda spread insults and lies about Jews in an attempt to humiliate and isolate them. It served to remind them that they were alone in their suffering and should not hope to receive help from their non-Jewish neighbors. When Dawid saw people laughing at the poster, it confirmed his worst fears about his current situation, just as the Nazis intended. There must have been people in that village who would not have been amused by this propaganda, but their disapproval would not be seen by Dawid and therefore couldn’t bring him any comfort.

You may learn more about Dawid and his fate here.

You may read excerpts from Dawid’s diary in Salvaged Pages: Young Writers’ Diaries of the Holocaust by Alexandra Zapruder.

Previously in This Week In History

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