As a Jewish boy in German-occupied Poland, Dawid Rubinowicz had to deal with stress that would have been difficult for any adult. He was not an adult, though, but rather a thirteen-year old boy. He used his writing in his diary, in part, as a coping strategy to deal with the horrifying reality of life under the Nazis.
On April 10, 1942, Dawid wrote about several events that were all too common in his world; the murder of people for trivial or even no apparent reason.
“They’ve taken away a man and a woman from across the road, and two children are left behind. Again it’s rumored that the father of these children was shot two days ago in the evening. …The gendarmes were in Slupia and arrested three Jews. They finished them off in Bieliny (they were certainly shot). Already a lot of Jewish blood has flowed in this Bieliny, in fact a whole Jewish cemetery has already grown up there. When will this terrible bloodshed finally end? If it goes on much longer then people will drop like flies out of sheer horror. A peasant from Krajno came to tell us our former neighbor’s daughter had been shot because she’d gone out after seven o’clock. I can scarce believe it, but everything’s possible. A girl as pretty as a picture – if she could be shot, then the end of the world will be here soon.”
Dawid recognized that he was living in life-ending circumstances, even if his life had been spared up to this point. It was not possible to have any kind of quality of life in an environment so full of arbitrary and capricious violence. The stress he experienced every day was relentless. He might have felt hope if he could have found any respite at all, but he could not. He observed, “If only you could have one quiet day. My nerves are utterly exhausted; whenever I hear of anyone’s distress, I burst into tears, my head starts aching, and I’m exhausted, as if I’d been doing the hardest possible work. It’s not only me, everyone feels the same.”
No relief was in store for Dawid. Although he recorded a few fleeting moments of happiness, things never really improved. His diary ended abruptly about six weeks after this day’s entry. A few months after that, his family was almost certainly sent to the death camp at Treblinka.
You may learn more about the Treblinka death camp here.
You may read excerpts from Dawid’s diary in by Alexandra Zapruder.
December 12, 2013 at 6:00 PM
FORUM Using art, music and drama as part of Holocaust education
December 17, 2013 at 7:00 PM
Religion 201: How Did We All Get Here, Anyway? with Judaism, Hinduism, & Atheism
April 30, 2014 at 6:00 PM
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