Dawid Rubinowicz: August 12, 1940

Dawid Rubinowicz was only twelve years old when he began writing his diary. Eventually, he filled five notebooks with observations about his life, his surroundings, and about conditions for Jews in Poland under German occupation. He began writing in March 1940, about seven and a half months after the beginning of World War II. His diary entry for August 12, 1940 was still within the first year of the German occupation. Many of the tragedies that would be inflicted on Jews during the Holocaust had not yet occurred. Still, even at this early stage, Dawid had started to suffer the restrictions and deprivations that would make his life miserable.

One of the worst losses Dawid experienced came with his inability to continue his education.Like many young people of his time, Dawid considered school to be essential in equipping him for productive membership in society. It was with pain and regret that he wrote, “All through the war I have been studying at home by myself. When I think of how I used to go to school I feel like bursting into tears, and today I must stay at home and can’t go anywhere. And when I think of how many wars there are going on in the world, how many men are daily dying by bullets, by gassing, by bombs, by epidemics and other enemies of man, then I feel fit for nothing.”

It is interesting to note that the things that Dawid listed as the “enemies of man” were also mostly created by men. In the face of these man-made disasters, he wrote that he felt “fit for nothing.” Maybe he was expressing the idea that he felt personally weak and small in the face of overwhelming problems. Perhaps he thought that war and extreme violence on the part of the German forces rendered his entire community incapable of effective resistance. In any case, he linked this feeling back to his inability to go to school. It is clear that he felt that continued education would have strengthened him in his ability to endure and to respond to the challenges he faced.

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

Click here to find more about how young Jews sought to continue education during the Holocaust, in spite of prohibitions.

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