August 23, 1939 - Dawid Sierakowiak


August 23, 1939



The Diary of Dawid Sierakowiak 

One of the most compelling diaries written during the Holocaust was recorded by a young man named Dawid Sierakowiak. He is one of the few teen writers able to keep an extensive record over a long period of time. His diary covers nearly four years and dramatically describes the changing circumstances brought about by World War II and the occupation of his country by Nazi Germany.


Dawid’s diary entry on August 23, 1939, was written only nine days before the start of the war. His words capture the fear of those days as the world teetered on the brink of disaster. He wrote, “The situation is growing worse. The [Nazi-Soviet Non-Aggression] pact has come to be. The tension in the city is growing. Nobody talks about anything else but the European situation. Polish radio reports everything calmly, encouraging quiet and reason in the country.”  

The Polish government had good reason to try to maintain calm. People were correct to be afraid of the new situation and the threat of panic was real. The pact between Germany and the Soviet Union left Poland isolated and vulnerable to attack. A secret addition to the treaty included an agreement between Germany and the USSR to conquer and divide Poland. Dawid could not have known this at the time, but he could see how rapidly things were changing and how deeply his town and his family would be affected. The next day the Polish Army began to mobilize in a last, desperate attempt to defend their nation.

Read a review of Dawid’s diary.

Learn more about the Nazi-Soviet Non-Aggression Pact and its role in the start of World War II.

Read an English translation of the treaty.