Dawid Sierakowiak kept a very detailed account of life under the Nazis in Lodz, Poland. He was one of the few teen writers who was able to keep an extensive record over a long period of time. His diary filled five notebooks, covered nearly four years, and revealed much about the hardships and persecution suffered by Jewish people during the Holocaust.
By the end of 1942, Dawid and his family were suffering from malnutrition. In their weakened condition, they were susceptible to many types of sickness. Overcrowding and poor sanitary conditions in the Lodz Ghetto added to their problems. Under these circumstances, even a minor illness could turn into a life-threatening event. On December 19, 1942, Dawid wrote about one such situation.
“Unfortunate events have taken strong hold of us and won’t ease their grip. It has turned out that Father has acquired scabies (a contagious skin condition) in jail… Because we chopped up our only wooden bed for fuel, Nadzia has been forced to sleep with father in the bigger bed, and so she, too, has been infected with this devilish disease. I am now living in fear about myself because our crowded conditions don’t allow for a separation of the sick from the healthy.”
People in the ghetto dreaded the possibility that illness might strike them or their loved ones. The harsh conditions and scarcity of medicines made recovery difficult. Even worse, sick people were often targets for deportation. Dawid’s mother had been sent away three months earlier because she had failed a surprise health inspection at a time when massive numbers of Jews were being rounded up for deportation. Dawid knew from personal experience that in the ghetto even a minor illness could tip the scale toward death.
You may learn more about Dawid Sierakowiak at this site.
Read another account of the problem of scabies in the Lodz Ghetto here.
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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