Dawid Sierakowiak was only 15 years old when Germany invaded his hometown of Lodz, Poland. He had already begun keeping a diary before the war, so his writing chronicled the changes brought about by the Nazis. In spite of his young age, his diary is one of the most comprehensive and revealing accounts of life in Lodz during the Holocaust.
In the early days of the German occupation, no one knew what to expect. As a result, everyone tried to continue living as normally as possible. For Dawid, this meant returning to school for the new term. Unfortunately, the disruptions caused by the war put several obstacles in his path. The first of these was the closing of his old school. Many people had fled in advance of the German troops, so there were fewer teachers and students available for school. A new school, combining the remnants of several old ones was eventually opened. The next problem came when Dawid’s family was unable to pay his tuition. Many Jewish workers lost their jobs when the Germans took over Poland. Unemployment made it difficult to afford even the basic necessities of life. There was no money left to pay for school. Dawid hoped, in light of the circumstances, that the school would allow him to attend anyway. On October 9th, he received disappointing news. He wrote, “Principal Perelman has announced that the students who haven’t paid will have no reason to come to school tomorrow. He is an exceptionally severe and mean man. I tried to talk to him after classes to explain our dire food situation, but he pushed me back, saying: ‘I don’t care, there are no exceptions.’ I cursed him in my soul with all my strength, and vowed to settle accounts with him some day…”
Dawid did not give up his dream to go to school. Instead, he sought for help from friends of his family who might be able to intercede with the school on his behalf. Eventually, he was able to return, but the situation for Jews continued to deteriorate. Only four months later, all Jewish people were required to reside in the newly formed Lodz Ghetto. There they would experience ever increasing deprivation. Dawid continued to struggle to get an education and to maintain some semblance of a normal life. Sadly, however, it was a fight that he was unable to win.
You may find out more about what was happening in Lodz (Litzmannstadt) in late 1939 here.
You may watch a short film about photographs from the Lodz Ghetto here.
October 15, 2015 at 6:00 PM
FORUM: The Jewish Refugee Crisis of the 1930’s: What Can We Learn to Meet the Needs of…
October 25, 2015 at 2:00 PM
Opening Reception: The Scroll of Remembrance
October 29, 2015 at 6:00 PM
Forum at the Rosen JCC: Eva Braun, Hitler’s Bride
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Sunday 1 PM - 4 PM
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The Holocaust Memorial Resource and Education Center of Florida · 851 N Maitland Ave · Maitland, FL 32751 · Phone: 407-628-0555 · email@example.com