October 17, 1942 – Otto Wolf

The Diary of Otto Wolf

Otto Wolf was a young Jewish boy who kept a diary beginning when his family went into hiding to avoid deportation at the hands of the Nazis. Unlike some people who had a fixed hiding location, the Wolf family was not always able to stay in one place. They hid in the forest in makeshift shelters and moved whenever danger seemed near or conditions required relocation. They had a local helper who brought supplies and information, but he was not always reliable and the Wolfs were often unsure of his continued good will. In spite of the uncertainty of his situation, Otto wrote over 1,000 entries in his diary, spanning a period of almost three years on the run.

Living in fear

On October 17, 1942, Otto recorded an event that illustrated one of the main problems of a life in hiding – being able to tell when danger was near. He wrote, “Around 5 p.m., we hear some rustling: we think it’s Slavek [the helper] but it is some forester who keeps walking around our hideout. After a while, we hear rustling again: we think it’s the same forester returning. We are disappointed to find out that it is the head forester himself. We therefore decided to pack up all our things and tell Slavek that we must leave here.”

Of course, the Wolf family could not have known for sure why the foresters seemed to be nosing around their shelter area. Perhaps they suspected that there were Jews hiding in the area. If that was the case, the family was in great and immediate danger. On the other hand, the foresters’ behavior could have had an entirely different explanation; one that posed no threat at all. The Wolf’s decided that it was better to be safe than sorry and moved that very night. The stress of this type of uncertainty was one of the worst elements of a life in hiding and undoubtedly took its toll on the Wolfs and on anyone who helped them too.

Excerpts from Otto Wolf’s diary have been published in a book entitled, Salvaged Pages: Young Writers’ Diaries of the Holocaust by Alexandra Zapruder.  

Learn more about the many dangers faced by children who were in hiding from the Nazis.