Dawid Rubinowicz was thirteen years old when he began keeping his diary. Through his writing, Dawid documented what life was like for Jewish people in Poland under Nazi rule. One thing that becomes clear from his diary entries over time is that conditions were getting progressively worse. In the beginning of the German occupation, some people thought that it might be possible to go on with normal life. It quickly became obvious, though, that the Nazis were determined to impose ever-increasing restrictions on Jews that would eventually be impossible to overcome. Dawid wrote about confiscation of property and people being taken for forced labor. He also wrote about families losing their livelihoods and children no longer being allowed to go to school. One of the worst limitations came when Jews were required to move into a restricted area, known as the “Jewish Quarter”.
The Jewish Quarter, also known as the ghetto, was a place of deprivation and suffering from its beginning. The restrictions that Jews had already suffered only multiplied now that they were concentrated together. People often needed to search outside the ghetto in order to get enough food to survive. On 1 November 1941, Dawid wrote about the devastating end to that possibility. “Today notices were put up in Kielce that anyone who goes into and out of the ‘Jewish Quarter’ will receive the death penalty. Up till now people could go into and out of the quarter. This news made me very sad, and not only myself but every Israelite who heard it. These notices were put up not only in Kielce but also in all towns under the ‘General Government’ (that’s the name of the area that used to be Poland.)”
It was a bitter blow for Jews to be threatened with death for simply leaving the ghetto. It would be impossible for all of the ghetto residents to survive using only the resources available in that small, restricted area. Of course, the Jewish people of Poland were marked by the Nazis for an even worse fate, though many did not know it yet. Less than one year later, the Jewish people of Dawid’s area were sent to the death camp of Treblinka and murdered.
You may read excerpts from Dawid’s diary in by Alexandra Zapruder.
You may learn more about the fate of the Jews of the Kielce region here.
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