Dawid Rubinowicz was among the youngest of the Jewish diarists whose writing survived the Holocaust era. He was only twelve years old when he began recording his thoughts and his family’s experiences under the German occupation of Poland during World War II. Dawid lived in the small town of Krajno. His father supported the family through his work as a dairy farmer, though they owned only one cow and a wagon. They were quite poor. Since they lived close to subsistence level already, the economic exploitation that came with the war hit them hard and fast. Much of Dawid’s writing deals with this painful subject, and he showed maturity beyond his years when he observed the impact that the economic conditions had on peoples’ characters and on society in general. On the other hand, he was still a young boy and his diary sometimes reflected a child’s fascinations as well.
On March 24, 1941, Dawid seemed to forget about the larger implications of his circumstances when he wrote about witnessing some German troop movements toward the east, undoubtedly, though unknown to him, in preparation for the upcoming invasion of the Soviet Union. He observed, “Today it’s a bit warmer. German soldiers have been passing through. They were mostly cavalry. I stood at the window, watching the soldiers pass. Heavy artillery was also on the move. It was fun watching the soldiers pass through; we hardly ever see soldiers in our parts.”
This diary entry seems strange at first glance. How could Dawid describe seeing the troop movements as fun? The war had been going on for over a year and a half. He had already written about the hardships the German occupation had brought upon his family. Didn’t he realize that these soldiers were part of the same force that brought the occupation officials that caused so much misery? In all likelihood, he did know this, but was momentarily awed by the parade-like procession of troops. He was a young boy, after all, and he didn’t lose all the features of his age just because of the circumstances of his life. All over the world, children are fascinated by parades, which often feature displays of troops and weapons. It is not really all that unusual that Dawid reacted as he did. This diary entry was not indicative of any deeper change of heart about the German occupation. His next entry went back to the usual themes of how his family and the Jewish community dealt with exploitation and persecution. This day’s writing serves to remind us that Dawid, though faced with adult problems, was still a young boy.
You may read more about Dawid and his family here.
This website is dedicated, in part, to the preservation of the memory of the Jews of the Kielce region. This work is being carried out in contemporary Poland by Jews and non-Jews alike.
The tragedy that befell the Jews of the Kielce region did not end with the German defeat in World War II. Click here to read about another chapter in this devastating history.
July 15 to August 5
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Forum: Ravensbruck… why were some women targeted by the Nazis?
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