Dawid Sierakowiak Diary - Lodz


Dawid Sierakowiak marked with a cross - (USHMM)

Lodz, August 24, 1939

Mobilization! We don't know if this is the real thing or not, but nearly every recruit is reporting. Many of our neighbours have already gone. There's not the least hint of defeatism.

Lodz, August 26, 1939

Today I read Mayor Jan Kwapinski's appeal for volunteers to dig anti-aircraft ditches. Having gotten my parents permission, I signed up immediately at the police station, as did all my schoolmates, and tomorrow morning I go to work. There are tens of thousands of volunteers.... Old Jews, young women, Chassidim, all citizens (except the Germans) are rushing to volunteer. The bloody Hun will not pass.

Lodz, August 28, 1939

My bones ache like everyone else's from yesterday's work. Fifty thousand people were out digging.

Lodz, August 30, 1939

General mobilization! All reservists up to age 40 have been called.

Lodz, September 1, 1939

The German army has crossed the Polish border in several places. Air raids on Polish towns such as Cracow, Czestochowa, Katowice, Grodno etc, have begun. Things are boiling around the world. We're waiting for France and England to join the war; maybe even the United States. Meanwhile, we're repelling German attacks quite well. We had 3 alerts today, during which enemy planes were kept from approaching our town. I go to bed half dressed.

Lodz, Wednesday September 6, 1939

Oh God, what's going on here? Panic, departures en masse, defeatism. The city, abandoned by its institutions, and by the police, awaits the imminent arrival of the German army in terror. What's happened? People are running nervously from place to place, anxiously carrying around their worn- out possessions An aimless confusion. I was on duty till 1:00 a.m. I go to wake Rysio Wojcikowski for his turn. He is quite pessimistic, and he tells me that some kind of evacuation of the city is contemplated. He tells me that in his father's office everything is packed, and they are getting ready to leave Lodz at any minute.

I'm astonished. How? Where? I hear that the Germans are going to occupy Lodz any hour now. At home I meet our neighbour Mr. Grabinski, who has just returned from the city. He tells me of the great panic and frenzy seizing people. Throngs are leaving their homes on a dangerous migration to an uncertain future. There is crying and lamenting in the streets.

i go to bed, but at 5 a.m. loud voices in the apartment wake me. Our neighbour Mr. Grodzenski, with his crying wife, is urging us to leave. Where? What for? Nobody knows. Run, run, run away as far as possible; move with care, stumble, forget everything - as long as you run from danger. My mother, my beloved, everlastingly sensitive mother, shows unusual composure as she consoles Mrs. Grodzenski, dissuading her from her ridiculous plans. Slowly, the contagion of mass hysteria, as well as the psychosis of crowds heading for slaughter, is eliminated. Father loses his head; he doesn't know what to do. Other neighbours come in, Jews to seek counsel. They say that it's recommended that everyone able to bear arms leave the city, since the enemy will send them to work camps. They don't know what to do. The matter is considered and the decision is made to stay put. Whatever, will be will be.

People are constantly on the move.Groups of men are heading toward Brzeziny to report for duty, while at the same time reservists and recruits are running away. Following them are women carrying bundles on their backs, filled with clothes, bedding and food. Even small children are running. All the leaders have left, so, for fun, we acted like we were the leaders, playing that role till noon.

Meanwhile, the situation is becoming ever more tense. Everyone has a different story to tell. Someone said that 150 English airplanes are waiting in Sieradz, another that the Germans have already occupied Zdunska Wola and are heading towards Lodz. The news gets stranger and more fantastic all the time.

Aunt Estera came to us with her children, and the house is filled with crying. Abek and Jankus ran away to Brzeziny. What is to be done? What can be accomplished? At 5 p.m. a kind of potato soup materialised: that's today's dinner. Other people might not even have that much. My father runs to our uncle, uncle back to father, but the decision remains the same: we will stay put and not run. In the afternoon a civilian patrol is organised in our neighbourhood. My father signs up for it. In the evening Rysio  Wojcikowski returns with his father. They've bought bicycles and are leaving once again. The roads are impossible.

i go to bed, expecting, for the first time, a good night's sleep. Unfortunately, there is no fear of air raids now. When you want to take over something, you don't destroy it. In the evening a column of Polish soldiers began arriving in town. They march quietly, in formation. It's hard to tell whether they're advancing or retreating. A little later some armoured tanks left the city heading for the front...... What will tomorrow bring?

Lodz, Thursday, September 7, 1939

Today, there was nothing new. Like everyone else I went outside this morning, did nothing but talk about what will happen. Will they, or won't they come? We dragged ourselves to Pabianicka Highway to watch the approaching Polish military column. So that's how a retreating army looks, rather like a regular army passing by. Can it be hoped that they won't come. Will there be another 'Miracle on the Vistula River?' Will we live to see another Marne? We sit together, boys and girls, trying to chase our worst thoughts away. It's no use. What will happen?

Our neighbour's brother came on horseback. He says the Germans are being pushed back and our columns are holding fast. The afternoon newspaper claims that the French are matching into Germany and that the Poles are holding fast. A militia is being organised. My father has signed up. Maybe now he'll regain his composure and calm down.

In the evening we could hear the cannons boom and see a fiery glow in the south. Can it be so near? Some fellow claims that Lodz will be taken any moment now. I'm going home to bed, so I won't hear or see anything. Come what may! Maybe there'll be a miracle..... Marne oh Marne, if only it could happen again. Maybe a miracle is possible.

Lodz, Friday, September 8, 1939

Lodz is occupied. It's been quiet all day, too quiet. As I sit in the park in the afternoon, drawing a portrait of a girl I know, the frightening news reaches us: Lodz has surrendered. German patrols are on Piotrkowska Street. Fear, surprise.... surrendered without a fight? Maybe it's just a tactical maneuver. We'll see. Meanwhile conversations cease, the streets empty.

Mr. Grabinski returned from town and told everyone how the local Germans greeted their countrymen. The Grand Hotel, where the General Staff is to be headquartered, is decked with flowers. Civilians, including boys and girls, are jumping into passing military cars with a happy 'Heil Hitler.' One can hear loud German conversations on the streets. Whatever was hidden in the past, under the pretext of patriotism and civic-mindedness, now shows its true face.

Lodz, Saturday, September 9, 1939

An announcement in Polish and German (German first) was posted this morning, advising calm while German units enter the city. It was signed 'Civic Committee for the City of Lodz.' A little later I went over to Pabianicka Highway to see the arriving army. A great number of vehicles, but the soldiers are nothing out of the ordinary. They differ from Polish soldiers only by the uniforms they wear, which are steel grey. Their expressions are boisterous - after all they are conquerors! A car of officers with Martian-like faces speeds by like lightning. The street is quiet, watching the passing army with indifference. It's quiet, all quiet. We get back to our neighbourhood, sit on benches, talk and joke. What the hell! Damn them.

Lodz, Sunday, September 10, 1939

The first manifestation of the German presence: Jews were being seized to do digging. An elderly retired professor, a Christian who lives at no.11, warned me about going into town. A decent man. What should I do now? Tomorrow is the first day of school; who knows what's happening to our beloved school. My friends are all going to attend, just to see what's going on. But I have to stay home. I must. My parents feel they don't want to lose me yet. Oh my beloved school! Curse the times I complained about getting up early or about tests. If only those times could return.

Lodz, September 12, 1939

Jews are being seized again, and beaten and robbed. The store where my father works was robbed, as the local Germans freely indulge their whims. People speak about the way Jews are treated at work: some are treated decently, but others are sadistically abused. Some Jews were ordered to stop working, to remove their clothes and stand facing the wall, at which point they were told they'd be shot. Shots were fired in their direction, and though nobody was killed, this was repeated a few times.

Lodz, September 13, 1939

Rosh Hashanah eve. I haven't gone out and won't now that the sad holiday is approaching. It's no different from a sad ordinary day, when all one has is bread and occasionally herring. According to an order issued today, stores are to remain open tomorrow. What a blow to the Jews on Rosh Hashanah, the worst in ages! However, the synagogues are to be closed. There is no possibility of communal prayer for mercy. All basic personal freedoms are cancelled. Though I am not old-fashioned- I've considered it my freedom to avoid prayer every year, this prohibition is painful, for I understand what faith means to the devout. It's an irreparable crime to take away someone's only happiness, his belief. The Jews will not forgive Hitler for this. Our vengeance will be awesome.

Lodz, September 15, 1939

German agents remove Jews from all food lines , so that a poor Jew who has no maid is condemned to die of hunger

Lodz, September 16, 1939

Store-robbing continues. They get everything they can. Epsztajn's jewelry and watch store was completely emptied, and they scarcely got away alive.

Lodz, September 19, 1939

Listened to Hitler's speech about Danzig, ranting, raving, insulting, begging, ingratiating himself, but above all lying and lying. He lied that Poland started the war, he lied about the barbaric persecution of Germans in Poland and lied about his own, always peaceful intentions.

Lodz, September 20, 1939

The Germans have introduced the German mark alongside the Polish zloty - 2 zlotys per mark - and the civic committee scrip. And a few anti-Semitic orders have been issued, namely that Jews cannot have more than 1000 marks and draw only 250 marks per week from the bank. Stores are being robbed less often, but grabbing people for work continues.

Lodz, October 3, 1939

People are gradually getting used to the new conditions and are returning to their jobs.

Lodz, October 4, 1939

I have not escaped the sad fate of my companions being seized to do work. Yesterday I took a shortcut to school, passing buildings covered with swastikas, many German cars, a lot of soldiers, and Lodz Germans wearing swastikas. I managed to evade them and, emboldened, took the same road today. A youth holding a big stick ran over yelling in German: 'Come, let's get to work! You're not allowed to go to school.' I didn't resist, for no identification card would have been of any use there. He took me to a certain square where several Jews were already working, clearing the ground of leaves. He wanted me to jump over a high fence, but when he saw i wouldn't do it, he left me. The work on the square was supervised by a soldier, also with a big stick, who told me to fill some puddles with sand.

I've never been more humiliated than when I saw those passersby smiling and laughing at someone else's misfortune. Oh, you stupid, ignorant oafs, you simpletons! We don't need to feel ashamed; only our tormentors should. Enforced humiliation isn't humiliation. But the anger, the helpless fury of being forced to do this stupid, disgraceful task filled with provocation tore me apart. One thing is left: revenge!

After about a half hour of work, the soldier gathered all the Jews, some with their hats turned the wrong way- for the sport of it - lined us up, told one of us to put away the shovels, and dismissed the rest of us. It was supposed to be a show of magnanimity. I got to school halfway through the first class, my first lateness ever. The teachers can do nothing. 'For reasons beyond the Jews control.'

This evening we found out that one of the Germans who live in our neighbourhood is 'eyeing the Jews, keeping watch over them. This completely unnerved my poor anguished parents. Meanwhile, it was announced in school that students who do not pay at least some tuition will be barred from classes. What will happen to me? We will see.

Lodz, October 6, 1939

Hitler called a meeting of the Reichstag, where he laughed at the former Polish government, rightly so, and where he gave his 'final' offer for peace. His terms, given on the radio earlier this week, are unacceptable. He said that he is even ready to resolve the Jewish question, and ridiculed the British rule in Palestine. At any rate, the speech brought nothing new,

Lodz, October 8, 1939

Today the Jewish community council announced that it will provide 700 Jews for work. Will they now stop grabbing people on the street?

Lodz, October 18, 1939

The Germans have set up a police station in our area and are going through apartments belonging to Jews, taking away radios, carpets, quilts etc. They'll probably throw us out of our apartment soon.

Lodz, October 19, 1939

No bread, no coal to be had.

Lodz, October 20, 1939

An order was issued today forbidding Jews from trading in textiles, leather, and clothing. A Jew is not allowed to buy any of these, and he can sell these goods only to Christians. A shoemaker can buy leather for repairing heels and soles, but not for making new shoes. It's true that this order hurts the black market in clothing; still thousands of Jewish families are being brought to ruin.

Lodz, October 22, 1939

Sunday, 11 a.m. A knock at the door. In comes a German officer, two policemen, and the super. The officer asks how many people live in the apartment, looks over the beds, asks about bedbugs, then if we have a radio- and finally leaves disappointed. He took radios from our neighbours- of course they only go to Jews, as well as mattresses, quilts, carpets etc. He found nothing of value in our place.

Father was very frightened because he was praying in a talis (prayer shawl), but the officer didn't notice. It's lucky, because people say that in such cases the Germans drive the Jews into the street and make them run until their talis and tefllin fall off. They took our neighbour Mr. Grabinski's only down quilt. Now it's 100% sure that they'll throw us out of our buildings.

Lodz, October 28, 1939

They ordered Mrs. Heller out of her apartment by 4 p.m. tomorrow; the administration gave her an empty apartment but only until she finds another one. Now we are all endangered.

Lodz, November 7, 1939

And so it's happened. Today's Deutsche Lodscher Zeitung announces the annexation of Lodz to Wartheland (the western part of Poland, annexed into the Reich) and, thus,to the Greater Reich. Of course, the appropriate orders have been issued, namely: Jews are not allowed to walk on Piotrkowska Street, since it's the main street; Jews and Poles are to yield always and everywhere to uniformed Germans; wearing four-cornered hats, uniforms, army coats, shiny buttons and military belts is forbidden. Jewish bakeries are permitted to bake only bread. Jewish stores are to be marked ' Judisches Geschaft' - Jewish business, next to a yellow Star of David inscibed with the word 'Jude' - Jew. It's a return to the yellow patches of the Middle Ages.

Lodz, November 8, 1939

Terrible things are going on in town. Jews are grabbed and ordered to report tomorrow to a designated area, to bring a shovel, food for 2 days and 20 zlotys. What new idea is this? What kind of agony? Posters on street corners announce the annexation of Lodz to the Reich. A Nazi Youth Party was formed in the city: marching, singing, parades - one wants to stay home to keep from seeing all of this.

A meeting of the 'Jewish Elders of Lodz' with the authorities was called for tomorrow. We'll see what comes of it.

Lodz, November 9, 1939

The Germans came to school yesterday and ordered that its Polish -Hebrew sign be taken down and the library made orderly. The Jews who were grabbed for work and told to bring food and money were released after one day and their money taken from them. Those living on Piotrkowska Street can buy a pass for 5 zlotys per person. Everything is done for money. The community elders meeting with the authorities have not yet returned.

Lodz, November 10, 1939

There is talk that the Jewish elders were jailed and also that they were released. We were advised in school not to venture out tomorrow, the 11th of November, the traditional Polish national holiday. They hanged 3 criminals in Baluty Market today - 2 Poles for murder, and a Jew for blackmarketeering, so its' rumoured - to scare us. They're afraid of provocation. I am sure nothing will happen; nobody would dare attempt anything.

Lodz, November 11, 1939

It's quiet in town, though yesterday and today they arrested a lot of teachers, activists who fought for Polish independence in 1918, policemen etc. The daily Dziennik Lodzki is discontinued as of today. An order was issued that all signs must be written in German, correctly, since we are part of the Reich! As of the 15th, all Poles and Jews must give up their radios. We'll have no news after that. The Germans do whatever they want.

Lodz, Wednesday, November 15, 1939

The synagogue was burned down. Barbaric methods for annihilating the world are being achieved. They demanded 25 million zlotys in exchange for stopping the terror. The community didn't have it, so it didn't deliver. Something is wrong with the Germans. Since yesterday they've been engaged in terrible plunder, robbing wantonly, whatever they can; furniture, clothes, underwear, food. All Lodz German males, 18 to 45, are being mobilized today for selbstschutz - self defence. Since the regular army is leaving, someone has to stay and guard the city. We'll get the brunt of it. It's worse dealing with one Lodz German than a whole regiment from Germany. 

Lodz, Thursday, November 16, 1939

We're returning to the Middle Ages. The yellow star is again part of a Jew's garb. An order was issued today that all Jews, regardless of age or gender, must wear a 10-centimeter armband- of 'Jewish yellow' colour - on the right arm, directly below the armpit. In addition, Jews are to observe a curfew from 5 p.m. to 8 a.m.

Lodz, Friday, November 17, 1939

The mood in town is depressed. It;s hard getting used to the idea of being persecuted. The Germans are on the lookout for provocations from 'yellow armbanded Jews.' There's a lot of opportunity now to ridicule and provoke. It'll be interesting to see how the Poles react. Will they join the German rabble? The required armbands were prepared at home.

Lodz, Saturday, November 18, 1939

The Poles lower their eyes when they see Jews wearing yellow stars. Acquaintances console us that it will not be for long. Meanwhile the Germans show complete indifference. The curfew for Poles and Germans has been changed: they may go out at 6 a.m. - it was 5 a.m. before - but now they can stay out till 8:30 p.m. - it was 8 before. We can stay locked in our homes from 5 p.m. It doesn't matter. There will be better times!

Lodz, December 6, 1939

The first Chanukah candle was lit. Father made a hole in a potato, poured in some oil, inserted a wick of braided cotton, and lit it. All our Jewish neighbours are waiting for a new Chanukah miracle. Maybe the fervent prayers of millions of Jews to be liberated will be answered! We have a buyer for our wardrobe and couch, who will give us 130 zlotys for both pieces (They cost us 350 zlotys). He is a German, a very decent man, known for his kindness toward Jews. Father is trying to secure a permit from the authorities allowing him to make the sale so that he can pay the rent.

Lodz, Thursday December 7, 1939

The ZUS administration gave its permission to sell the furniture. Father is still worried constantly; he gets upset very easily. I wish everything could finally be taken care of. Everyone is surprised that nothing's been heard about Hitler lately. There is speculation that he is dead or removed from power. There is news that Germany has suffered heavy defeats in the air and at sea.

Lodz, December 8, 1939

The cupboard - wardrobe was finally sold and rent paid till December 31. There are new rumours of all kind, probably just gossip.

Lodz, December 9, 1939

Today we heard about Jews being badly beaten on Reymont Square yesterday; even 3-year old children were kicked. Jews are now living on messianic prophesies. A rabbi has said that on the 6th day of Chanukah a judgement, and liberation will occur. Uncle says there are few Germans and not many soldiers on the streets. I'm annoyed by such talk, would prefer to hear nothing.

Lodz, December 10, 1939

A great many of the large buildings in the city centre have been 'cleared' of Jews, and there's talk of sending a large number of Jews from Lodz to the Protectorate - not a pleasant prospect. 

Lodz, December 11, 1939

Father came home with the news that starting today at 6 p.m. Jews will be deported from Lodz. All the neighbours packed bags, bundles etc, and we did also, but nothing happened, and everyone eventually went to bed.

Lodz, December 12, 1939

I saw a frightful sight. A Jew being hit with a huge pole by a German. The Jew kept bending lower and lower without turning around, so as not to be hit from the front. A new order was issued today: The yellow patches are to be removed, and 10 cm yellow stars of David are to be worn on the right chest and on the right side of the back.

Lodz, December 13, 1939

There was more fear and anxiety when Dadek Hamer came to tell us that Jews are being driven into the empty market halls in Nowo -Zarzewska Street, to be sent to the Lublin district. This evening we heard that the Jewish community administration has announced that the Jews must leave Lodz. Apparently, during the next four days, anyone can leave for any destination, except the Reich, and after that mass deportations will begin. The community administration will give the poor 50 zl. each and has started sending them out as of today. There is terrible panic in town, everyone has lost his head, but knapsacks and bundles are being packed.

Lodz, December 14, 1939

Mass arrests continue into the third day: thousands of teachers, doctors, engineers with families (babies included) are driven into the empty market halls and then to German prisons. The same happens to old activists, former legionnaires, even ordinary rich men. Quite often, groups of important people are dispatched to their death.

It seems that Lodz is really going to be cleared of Jews. For the time being, only the poor are registering. They get 50 zl. per person and are literally thrown out of town: first transported by rail to Koluszki and from there let go.

Lodz, December 15, 1939

It gets worse all the time. Last night some Jews were evicted from a few places in Baluty and sent to the Reich. It's not known where they are, or what happened to them. Everywhere people have their bags packed with essentials. Everyone is very nervous.

Lodz, December 17, 1939

The Jews are to remain in town till March 1, and then- out! They say that 80 frozen babies from Koluszki were sent to Lodz today. These babies belong to deported Jews.

Lodz, December 31, 1939

The last day of 1939, a year that began with tension and ended with war. Let's hope next year will be better, for no one knows what awaits us.

Lodz, Sunday, April 6, 1941

I start a new notebook, hoping that it will begin a better period in my life than the one recorded in the preceding diary. It's a lost cause, it seems. In spite of a beautiful and expensive Passover ration, the situation is as awful as it's been. No hope for any improvement.

Lodz, Monday, April 7, 1941

The matzoh will cost 2 RM 25 Pfennig for 2.5 kilo, the portion allotted for one person for the 8 days of Passover. Of course, we'll take bread instead, since the budget of a menial labourer doesn't allow for matzoh. Mother would prefer the matzoh, but we need to sell the bread so that we can buy other food.

Lodz, Tuesday, April 8, 1941

Jews are hoping that the Balkans will bring us liberation, an idea I do not share. Nothing will come of it.

Lodz, Wednesday, April 9, 1941

This week I wrote an article for the communist textile workers' newspaper, about the situation of students.

Lodz, Thursday, April 10, 1941

Rysiek Podlaski sent me a note today telling me to report immediately to the tailor shop where his father is the manager. I was given employment for a few days as a 2 marks-a day labourer, weighing and distributing vegetables to the tailors and other workers. I lift and carry turnips and carrots for weighing. I'll receive an additional workers' dinner (read soup) for 20 pfennigs, every day.

Lodz, Friday, April 11, 1941

Work is hard but not strenuous. I'm annoyed only at the special privileges extended to office workers and other parasites in the shop by those doing the weighing. The tailors wait on a long line, while an office girl runs out and receives her allotment immediately - taken from better quality stock, with weight added. A policeman's maid (I know her) comes with one coupon and orders two portions instead of one. What's to be done? The ghetto functions on bourgeois- bureaucratic foundations, and on these it will fall.

Lodz, Saturday, April 12, 1941

It's the first day of Passover and we're not working because it's Saturday, not because of the holiday, which is not acknowledged. In reality, there is no holiday. The same food as before, and the same hunger.

Lodz, Sunday, April 13, 1941

We no longer cook dinner at home. We eat in a restaurant where we registered for the holidays by using some of our food supply coupons. The restaurant dinners are meagre, and we'll join a community kitchen after the holiday, since dinners there are cheaper (15 pfennigs) and better - they're thicker and more plentiful. Dinners in the shops (dinner here and elsewhere means one portion of soup) are also good and plentiful.

Lodz, Wednesday, April 16, 1941

Last Friday a notice was posted for the voluntary registration of males, 18 to 45, and females, 20 to 30, for work in Germany. On Saturday, all those who had previously registered were notified to report immediately. A few thousand have already left. I think they're the lucky ones, for they get a chance to survive the war, which we in the ghetto do not have. All the letters sent by people shipped out for work assure us that they have plenty of food: 'We can eat, eat and eat some more.'

Lodz, Tuesday, April 22, 1941

Rumkowski came up with a brilliant idea for preventing workers in bread stores from eating bread on the job. Starting tomorrow, a loaf will be issued to each person for five days. This way there will be no weighing or slicing of bread in the stores. The bakery supervisors will be responsible for the honest weight of the loaves.

Also, the private sale of wood is to be forbidden, since it is usually stolen from fences, outhouses and other wooden structures which the authorities haven't gotten around to taking down. The price of wood is now 80 pf. per kilo. We don't know how things will work out, because there has been no distribution of coal for months and wood was distributed back in February. So we'll have to make do on one soup a day from a communal kitchen. Even though our supplementary allotment includes potatoes, kasha and vegetables, there will be nothing to cook them with. If they don't get you one way, they get you another. The inevitability of death by starvation is now growing clearer.

Lodz, Saturday, April 26, 1941

School is at 9 a.m. tomorrow. We'll only get soup for 10 pf. At any rate, studies are to commence full speed, immediately. We have, at best, five months in which to cover the fourth year. There's an awful lot of material in it.

Lodz, Sunday, April 27, 1941

The trip to school in Marysin is quite long, but the worst of it is the awful mud from the incessant rain. We walk through several fields, so our shoes are in a sorry state. Mine are beginning to go, and there's no chance of repairing them. I may soon have to walk to school barefoot. The school is in a tiny building where the benches barely fit. There isn't even a blackboard or any other supplies.

Rumkowski came to visit us, with several other ghetto 'dignitaries.' He looked into the kitchen, tasted the soup (which was simply excellent today, probably on his account), and spoke to the students. He spoke about the difficulties in opening the school and said that he'll try to do more for us. Then he asked that we work diligently, keep clean and behave well. (He's gotten fatter and much younger looking.)

Lodz, Wednesday, April 30, 1941

Our association's politburo held a meeting today, after a long period of inactivity. During the winter, we became part of the general ghetto movement, and now we're participating in the activities of all the other groups (both youth and adult) with whom we have established contact. Nintek (Nataniel) Radzyner is well connected in the leftist movement, and through him we stay in contact with everybody. We've also made progress in our theoretical studies. May we live to use our knowledge.

Lodz, Thursday, May 1, 1941

Churchill spoke this week. He admitted that England has suffered major defeats, but he believes that the final victory will be England's. And so one gets the impression that the war, if it ever ends, will go on for many, many years.

Lodz, Friday, May 2, 1941

The meeting today of male groups was very successful. Things look promising for fruitful work. Nintek spoke about the May 1st celebration; I spoke about organisational matters, and then Nintek gave a lecture on youth in the proletarian revolutionary movement. A lively discussion followed.

Lodz, Saturday, May 3, 1941

Large groups of workers are leaving for Germany again. I wonder if there will be further registration. Today we met with a women's group to discuss the necessity of centralising the authority of the proletarian government. We were able to fully institute a soviet-type government.

Lodz, Sunday, May 4, 1941

All the fields in the ghetto are now parcelled out, plowed and planted by the administration. Not a bad idea, if some good comes of it. Areas around the school are to be cultivated by the students. No free education, but still it's good to get to know the soil: everything may yet serve a purpose.

Lodz, Monday, May 5, 1941

For all the work I did carrying and distributing vegetables, I received only 12 RM. Well, it's something. More important, though, Praszkier kept the promise he made to me to place Mother in the community kitchen. She's working 14- 15 hours a day, and her salary is to be 20-25 RM monthly. The best part is that kitchen workers get two good soups a day, free, without coupons. Now Mother will not starve, and it will be easier at home as well.

Lodz, Thursday, May 8, 1941

We had our leadership meeting today. Four of our members were chosen for the all-youth unit of lecturers: Nintek, Jerzyk,, me and Szyjo. We'll study Lenin's State and Revolution first and then lecture on it to any other youth groups studying it.

Lodz, Friday, May 9, 1941

i've started studying Mehring's Karl Marx and find it extremely interesting. I also study economics intensively. Today I met one of my former pupils who wants to study his first year of high school with me. I went to his home , but the pay they offered me is awful: 1.50 RM for 6 lessons a week. I want 40 pf. an hour, minimum, for I value my health.

Lodz, Saturday, May 10, 1941

i went to a May 1st celebration today, staged obviously a bit late. Ziula Krengiel was the main speaker. She talked about the meaning of May 1st, its observance in the Soviet Union, and finally about surviving the ghetto. She spoke wonderfully about readiness for action and was given the usual red bow, which she kept as a souvenir.

Lodz, Sunday, May 11, 1941

It just doesn't want to get warm this year. I feel awful and I look worse all the time. People say it's hard to recognise me.

Lodz, Tuesday, May 13, 1941

Rumkowski is going to Warsaw to get some doctors, and he is also re-organising food distribution. The number of stores is increasing. There are now separate vegetable stores, while bakeries and groceries are being combined. The 'Spring Program' includes creating new grassy areas and squares, paving and construction around the ghetto, which is marching 'in glory,' on the road to development and progress.'

Yesterday, a student in our class died from hunger exhaustion. Because he looked awful, he was allowed to have as much soup in school as he wanted, but it didn't help. He was the third victim of starvation in the class.

Lodz, Wednesday, May 14, 1941

The teachers called a meeting of class delegates from all years. For the first time in my life I had to be a stormy oppositionist and quarrel with the school authorities, namely the superintendent Maria Prentka. A motion was made to give students particularly weakened by hunger double portions of soup. She advised us not to bother about that now but to consider the more important matter of students serving on duty. I protested that feeding students a week before their death is a positive step, and that it was a most important question. Because I had no support from the weaklings who were there, cultivating the soil was discussed instead of feeding people, and because of the late hour the meeting was adjourned. I said that I considered the meeting null and void because of its imposed agenda and procedure. Maria Prentka was furious, and other teachers argued with me. Tomorrow, however, I hope to push my proposal through.

Lodz, Thursday, May 15, 1941

i succeeded! In spite of Prentka's fury, the matter of feeding people was discussed and submitted for immediate implementation  to the newly organised 7-member committee, which I also joined as leader of the academic section. This committee decided to submit a petition to the soup kitchen department immediately, asking for an increase in the soup provided. It also organised a student militia and considered the matter or hygiene and collecting money for self-help.

Lodz, Friday, May 16, 1941

A woman doctor examined me and was horrified at how skinny I am. She gave me a note to go for X-rays. Maybe I'll get an extra soup in school, though five soups would be even better. The check-up made me very worried and fearful. Lung disease is raging in the ghetto and mows people down as much as typhus and dysentery.

Lodz, Saturday, May 17, 1941

They've asked me to take on the tutoring. I'll get about 1.50 or 1.60 RM for four lessons a week. It will come in handy. If I can only manage it all: school, tutoring, organisational work, theory, languages, books. Strength is most important, yet it wont come from 40 dkg. of bread. I attended a lecture this afternoon on world literature, specifically positivism and decadence.

Lodz, Sunday, May 18, 1941

Nintek's essay about 'The Labours of Sisyphus' caused quite a stir, which led to the idea of writing a class newspaper. We'd also like to put out a newspaper for all the communist youth in the ghetto.

Lodz, Monday, May 19, 1941

I received 10 RM from Leczycki in Warsaw today. Part of it will go toward repairing my shoes and the rest toward our food allotment. I've begun receiving two soups in school; it does make me feel better.

Lodz, Wednesday May 21, 1941

Rumkowski came back from Warsaw and brought with him twelve physicians. He announced that air raid defenses would be organised. There are no allotments of food now and the soups in the kitchen are getting thinner. There are no potatoes, kasha, or vegetables in the ghetto.

Lodz, Sunday, May 25, 1941

it's May-like, finally. Those who are emaciated and starved (as I am) can't do without warm clothing yet, but overcoats are gone. It's dry everywhere. Marysin smells like spring, and the heart breaks at the memory of pre-war days, when we'd be getting ready for our long-awaited vacation. It would've been an excursion for the graduating class, then camp or the country. Damn it. One could cry at the memory. The hell with it!

Lodz, Monday May 26, 1941

All is okay in school. We're working on Cicero; next week it will be metrics. In mathematics we're doing square roots and soon solid geometry. In other subjects, except for German, we're behind. I'm organising a school paper, for which I've submitted a caricature. Maybe one of my Yiddish articles will be accepted this time, though so far none have passed the censor. Even the ghetto has its own bourgeois ideology, distinctly formulated.

Not all is well at home. Mother works from 7 a.m. till 9 p.m. and father from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. The household chores are done by Nadzia (sister). She gets only one soup a day and has 30 dkg. of bread, because she and mother both give Father 10 dkg. which he doesn't even appreciate. His attitude toward them is bad and shows great egotism.

Lodz, Tuesday, May 27, 1941

Everyone is eagerly awaiting Roosevelt's speech, promised for today. If I remember correctly, it was on May 27, 1917, that the United States declared war on Germany.

Lodz, Wednesday, May 28, 1941

Of course, he didn't say anything special. Wait, wait, wait - one can go mad hearing all this jabber. Here there is an unusual increase in cases of tuberculosis in children, and young people, the hearse is busy as never before -but over there they wait. Let them go to hell!

Lodz,Monday, June 2, 1941

This afternoon Lolek Dudelczyk and I had an 'editorial meeting' of our newspaper. We composed an introductory article, which I translated into Yiddish. My other Yiddish article, together with the caricature, will appear in the first issue. I wrote a mild reminder about the obligation to feed people. There will be time to write critical pieces in the coming issues.

Lodz, Tuesday, June 3, 1941

My X-ray shows no change in the lungs, but there is some heart irregularity.

Lodz, Thursday, June 5, 1941

Rumkowski announced that because of gunshots that allegedly came from the ghetto last week, no one will be allowed to leave his apartment Saturday, under threat of extreme penalty. He claims that the ghetto population was in great danger, but that thanks to his intervention the punishment was reduced to house arrest on Saturday. Nobody is inclined to believe this story, but no one can explain the Saturday punishment, either.

Lodz, Friday, June 6, 1941

I finally received a letter from Lolek Leczycki in Warsaw; it was a sealed and registered letter, joyful and very important. It's in answer to my postcard acknowledging the 10 RM he sent me. He writes that he'll continue helping me (though I don't see how) and that he'll even send me some underwear soon. He also says that Rumkowski who was in Warsaw two weeks ago, took along his friend Heniek Landenberg as his secretary, which means he'll have a lot of influence.

Lodz, Sunday, June 8, 1941

After school I went to see this Heniek Landenberg. He is short and well-fed, a guy my own age -17. He told me that Lolek wrote him about me and that as soon as his position is secure, he'll do all he can for me. Then he did what all the ghetto's 'influential people' do, he wrote down my name and address and told me to see him in a week. I managed to get some information about Lolek and the Warsaw ghetto. It's enough to say that a loaf of bread (2 kilo, same as here) costs 60 zlotys (30 RM) Bread costs 12 marks per kilo in the Lodz ghetto on June 26, 1941.

Lodz, Monday, June 9, 1941

Our school paper Itonejnu - Hebrew Our Newspaper - came out today, finally. Articles of mine were published for the first time, though they didn't have too many readers, probably because they're in Yiddish. The caricature, thouugh, is very successful. I'm now officially the editor of the Judaic section (Yiddish, Hebrew).

Lodz, Tuesday, June 10, 1941

Now we'll study Lenin's What is to Be Done in our group. Work is going full speed: we've gained a few new members and the old ones have made a lot of progress. The ghetto is getting ready for air-raid defense by naming commandants, messengers etc, who will, of course, not work at preparing shelters, which is impossible in the ghetto. Rather, its a chance for them to acquire new titles and honors. It seems that unemployment will continue for a long time, perhaps always.

Lodz, Saturday, June 14, 1941

There was an alarm at night, without an air raid, of course, and everyone slept well (if they had supper). No one in the ghetto fears 'enemy' air raids, not even if there were bombing.

Lodz, Sunday, June 15, 1941

Rumkowski, the sadist-moron, is doing terrible things. He dismissed two teachers, who are communists: our preceptress Estera Majerowicz and Rykla Laks. The direct reason was their organising teachers to oppose the installation of Weichselfisz as woman commissioner- director. The indirect reason was their supposed communist activity in school. Even though we knew Majerowicz's views, we never worked with her. We're keeping quiet and on the advice of the leadership, wont have any meetings for a week or two. There is a threat of a purge among the students and a possible closing of the school.

Lodz, Wednesday June 18, 1942

I submitted my first Yiddish poem, Der Umet' (Sadness), to the school paper. Moyshe Wolman, a man of letters and now a Yiddish teacher in our school, looked at it and said it shows talent 'obscured by scribbling.' It will appear in the second issue, together with my Yiddish editorial.

Lodz, Friday, June 20,1941

Rumkowski has a new plan, which he announced today in the ghetto newspaper. Children up to 14 years old will receive an increased ration, bringing it to 12 RM monthly. People 14 to 60 years an increase to 15 RM a month: 60 to 70 years, up to 17 RM; and above 70, to 20 RM monthly. For this allotment, all men 17 to 50 and women 17 to 40 will have to work ten to fourteen days a month, without pay, and will receive one soup at work without coupons. They'll be doing low grade work (such as my father and mother do) in place of all those now doing such jobs, who will be laid off. Women below age 40 with children below age 14 will also be laid off. In this way thousands will lose their jobs and will accept an allowance while working without pay.

But according to Rumkowski, the new system will protect the jobs of all office workers who will continue receiving supplements for their wives and children, so that their dependents do not become a burden to them. To put it simply, those who were well off until now  will be even better off from now on.

An adult gets 15 RM monthly and a child below age 14 gets 10 RM monthly, which gets added to the salary of the office worker. And that's the clever way in which Mr Chaim Rumkowski is running things. There is nothing definite as yet about the families of the shop workers, because he has not brought up the subject. However, Chaimek Rumkowski is going after the communists again. We've been told by our leadership that they're especially interested in us and that we should be very careful. Had it not been for this war, I'd be graduating today.

Lodz, June 28, 1941

Nintek told me that because all Party work in the ghetto has been suspended, an activity centre is being secretly established. This is to be made up of people devoted to the cause, body and soul, people for whom nothing else will matter and who will be ready at all times for any kind of Party work. I was designated one of five candidates from among school youths, and Nintek asked what I thought. I was so nervous and overwhelmed that I couldn't give him an answer today, putting it off till tomorrow.

At home I came to the following conclusions: even though I am quite certain of my ideals and convictions, revolutionary activity on a professional level, taken to its ultimate end, is definitely not my life's goal. Also I'm probably incapable of being in something like a 'suicide squad.' I decided to answer that I'm prepared to join in a specific action at a critical moment, but that ongoing professional work, precluding all other goals and conducted in circumstances which risk dire consequences, is out of the question.  

Lodz, Tuesday, July 15, 1941

Father is working again, this time as a painter's assistant. Lazy he is not, that's for sure. He'd do anything to earn bread for us. Alas, he hasn't had much luck. Mother's working now, too. Maybe she'll be able to hold onto this job. The thing is not to lose ground, not to be finished off.

Lodz, Wednesday, July 23, 1941

Today our class went to the mandatory bath. It was great! A superb hot and cold shower, a pleasure. It reminded me of the good old days, if only for a little while.

Lodz, Sunday, July 27, 1941

We had no classes, because all the students in Marysin had to parade for Rumkowski. What was more important, we had an extra meal - a piece of bread with a slice of sausage. Of course, there was a speech. The old man said that he gives us all he can and, in turn, asks us to study, study hard. A lot of dignitaries and guests came, and of course the entire Rest Home. Rumkowski opened a Rest Home in Marysin for 'deserving employees of the Community,' where life is said to be better than before the war. This heaven, where the charge per day is 5 RM a person, is populated by doctors, the Beirat etc. Even wines are procured for them. This is such a terrible disgrace that it will never be forgiven.

Lodz, Tuesday, August 5, 1941

It's rumoured that there's a plan to establish a summary court that would give death sentences for so-called political crimes (radio listening, spreading 'false information,' and even for political beliefs). The ghetto, of course, has immediately shut up, and now there's no political gossiping at all. A miraculous remedy, this rumour. The Germans will never find themselves another Rumkowski.

Lodz, August 20, 1941

Almost everywhere there are signs of tuberculosis: it's getting worse all the time. Some people arrived this week from Warsaw, and they speak of the horrible situation there. Still none of them has that dreadful pasty tubercular skin seen here. The cadavers walking around the streets give the entire ghetto that pale, musty tubercular look.

Lodz, Sunday, August 24, 1941

The ghetto is developing grandly. Numerous new shops and factories have been organized, in addition to the ones already existing. All of it is, 'state property,' of the Eldest of the Jews.' Hundreds of people have found jobs and things seem to improve, except for the dying and hunger, the never-ending hunger.

Lodz, September 25, 1941

Marysin will be taken over by the deportees who will arrive tomorrow. The school year has therefore been shortened.

Lodz, October 4, 1941

Today Rumkowski met with all the teachers in the ghetto. He said that because 20,000 Jews are arriving from all over Germany, he is extending the school recess now, instead of having it during the winter. I think it's the end of schooling in the ghetto, at least for me, since I don't think I'll be a lyceum student, after all.

Lodz, October 9, 1941

This afternoon they read our grades. I have all excellents, except for one good in gym - the best grades of my life and I think in the entire school.

Lodz, October 16, 1941

In the afternoon the first group of deportees from Vienna arrived in Marysin. They brought a carload of bread with them, and excellent luggage. They're dressed extremely well. Some have sons fighting on the front. There are rabbis and doctors. There are thousands of them. The same number is to arrive every day, up to 20,000. They'll probably outnumber us completely.

Lodz, October 17, 1941

A group of Czech deportees arrived. They too had excellent luggage and carloads of bread. It's said that they asked if it would be possible to get 2-room apartments with running water. Interesting types. These west Europeans will see how people live in the German Reich. Well, the fact that they find themselves in these straits wont help us any. I still can't get work.

Lodz, October 19, 1941

German Jews keep arriving - today from Luxembourg. There are many of them in town. They have only one yellow patch on the left breast with the word 'Jude.' They're dressed very well - you can see that they haven't lived in Poland. They're buying out everything in town, and prices have doubled.

Lodz, October 20, 1941

We went to visit the Czechs; there are some fine fellows among them, and among the Luxembourgers too. It's great talking to them. Almost all of them know German very well. They've had it so good that they're quite surprised at the filth here. A new group arrived today, from Vienna or Berlin. Almost all are Zionists (outwardly, anyhow), but there are Reds everywhere. They're intelligent, clean, pleasant and open. It's nice to be among them.

Lodz, October 22, 1941

The German Jews are still arriving - from Frankfurt /Main, Cologne, more from Prague and Vienna. All are 'big fish' or so they seem.

Lodz, March 21, 1942

This evening there was suddenly news that another 15,000 are to be deported immediately, in groups of a thousand a day. Everyone is saying that now all the ghetto's inhabitants will go.

Lodz, March 25, 1942

I feel very sick. I read but can't study at all, so I am working on English vocabulary. Among other things, I was studying Schopenhauer. Philosophy and hunger, some combination.

Lodz, March 26, 1942

Again, total confusion. The deportations are continuing, while at the same time the shops are receiving huge orders and there's enough work for a few months.

Lodz, March 28, 1942

Today we bought an etagere (my pre-war dream) and a kitchen table with drawers from our neighbours who are being deported. These - and some other household items - all for two packs of local cigarettes.

Lodz, March 30, 1942

Aside from the deported, a number of people have left in the last few days, taken out by relatives (for big money).

Lodz, April 9, 1942

Rumkowski made a long speech today but said nothing of importance. It's the demagoguery of a meglomaniac

Lodz, April 19, 1942

Mother cried when I came home today. She's the only one in our family who as unemployed is in danger. Father, whose rage intensifies all the time, revealed his true nature today. He wants to get rid of Mother, as he has not even lifted a finger to do anything for her. All he does is scream at her and annoy her on purpose.

Oh, if only things with Mother were different: the poor, weak, beloved, broken, unhappy being. As if she didn't have enough trouble, she has to put up with these noisy quarrels - which according to my father are due to my 'indifference' toward the family, or rather toward him. If we could only save her! We'll settle with Father after the war.

Since Mother isn't feeling well , she's decided to give my father only 25 dkg. of bread from her loaf - rather than the 50 dkg. she used to. He doesn't like it , but he's probably figured out that if she were not around he'd have even less.

Lodz, April 20, 1942

The ghetto is going crazy. Thousands of those at risk are struggling every which way to get jobs, mostly through influence. Meanwhile, the German commission started its work. All those examined by the commission get an indelible letter stamped on their chests, a letter whose significance nobody knows.

Lodz, April 23, 1942

Last night the police went through the apartments. Those who had not reported to the commission and could offer no excuse had to give up their bread and food ration cards. Today there were round-ups in the streets. There's talk that soon the entire population of the ghetto will be stamped. Another group of people left today by bus, to join relatives in Warsaw. They say that things in Warsaw are wonderful. The ghetto is open, and one can buy anything for money; work is paid for, and it's easy to get. Meanwhile, we perish here.

Lodz, April 24, 1942

A commission came to our shop today, and they stopped by our room. These people come from another world - these rulers, these masters of life and death. Their look doesn't in the least suggest a quick end to the war.

Lodz, April 29, 1942

Again I have no desire, actually no strength to study. Time is passing, as is my youth, my energy and enthusiasm. The devil knows what will be rescued from this pogrom. I'm gradually losing hope that I shall come back to life, or be able to hold on to the one I am now living.

Lodz, May 7, 1942

Things in the ghetto are ever more scandalous, but we are now in such a state of exhaustion that I truly understand what it means to lack the strength to complain, let alone protest.

Lodz, May 18, 1942

In the last few days, with frightening speed, my legs have become weak. I almost cannot walk because it tires me so. Still I can't avoid it, since my unit works on the third floor.

Lodz, May 21, 1942

Again, life has been extended for a time: on, from day to day, from one food ration to the next, more deportations and more new arrivals into the ghetto, until........

Lodz, Saturday, May 30, 1942

Our situation at home is again getting extremely tense and awful. Father, who for the last two weeks was relatively peaceful and divided his bread into equal daily portions, lost his self control again on Thursday and ate my entire loaf yesterday and today finished the extra half kilo of bread he gets from Mother and Nadzia. He also stole another 10 dkg. from them when he weighed the bread.

I don't know why  he hoards all the money, or why he takes Mother's and Nadzia's wages. He doesn't want to give us any money to buy rations. Today he went to get the sausage ration and ate over 5 dkg. on the street - Nadzia saw him, so that we were all short-changed. He also managed to borrow 10 dkg. of bread from Nadzia (Foolish Girl). I took tomorrow's portion of bread and half of Monday's with me to the shop. I'll do so every day from now on.

Father bought meat today, and with the litre of whey he got for the whole family, he cooked and guzzled it all up. Now there is nothing left for us, so we'll go to bed without supper. Mother looks like a cadaver, and the worrying is finishing her off.

Lodz, May 31, 1942

In the evening when I returned from the shop I was missing a few teaspoons of honey- which we received instead of marmalade, and mother was missing even more honey.

Lodz, June 11, 1942

The days pass imperceptibly, and no change is visible. The food supply has improved; however, the spectre of next winter is confronting everybody. Everyone realises all too well that he wont last through the winter - I'm not talking about those who gorge themselves, of course - and pessimism is getting worse all around. 'Either the war will end before the winter, or we will.' It's true: we're pushing on with our last strength.

Lodz, June 26, 1942

Today I heard that two people went to Warsaw. Apparently, one of them ate so much the day he got there that he was in bed with a high fever for a week. At least he felt full, something I haven't experienced in two years.

Lodz, Monday, July 14, 1942

It seems that last year Rumkowski said that he couldn't save everyone and, therefore, instead of having the entire population die a slow death, he would save 'the top ten thousand.'

Lodz, July 27, 1942

Apparently, they're deporting a huge number of Jews - ten thousand a day - from Warsaw. Accompanying this , of course, were pogroms, and those being deported were shot. The Eldest there committed suicide. However, they didn't go through the kind of extreme suffering we have had, and there is no end for us yet.

Lodz, Tuesday, September 1, 1942

The first day in this new, fourth year of the war has brought the terrible news that the Germans have emptied all the ghetto's hospitals. In the morning, the areas around the hospitals were surrounded by guards. All the sick, without exception, were loaded on trucks and taken out of the ghetto. There was a terrible panic, because it's no secret, thanks to people who've recently come from the provinces, how the Germans 'take care' of such evacuees.

Hellish scenes occurred during the moving of the sick. People knew they were going to their death! They fought the Germans, and were thrown onto the trucks by force. In the meantime, a good many of the sick escaped from the hospitals which the Germans got to a little later. It's said that even the sick in the Marysin preventorium were shipped out. In our office nobody could think about work - I'm now in an office which distribute payments to the families of people working in Germany. It seems no work was done in other offices and factories either. People are fearing for their children and for the elderly who aren't working.

Lodz, Wednesday, September 2, 1942

Having discovered that many of the sick escaped, the Germans are demanding they be brought back. On the basis of hospital records, the homes of the escapees' relatives have been searched and the sick captured. On this occasion, the Jewish police committed a crime unlike anything, it seems to me, committed previously in the ghetto.

The Germans demanded a full complement of all those on the hospital registers. The police found a novel way of doing the job, following instructions from people with influence to spare any of their relatives who escaped. They went to the homes of other sick people, namely those already deported, and asked where the sick could be found. When the unfortunate families answered that the sick were probably deported, since they had never come back, the police detained some of these relatives as hostages, until the 'escapees' were turned in. And when the Germans sent in vehicles today to fetch the rest of the sick, some of these hostages were included among them, as substitutes for sick people with influential relatives. The mood is still panicky, though things progress their normal way. It feels as though something is hanging in the air.

Lodz, Thursday, September 3, 1942

It seems the Germans have asked that all children up to the age of 10 be delivered, most probably to be murdered. The situation resembles what happened in all the surrounding small towns prior to deportations and differs only in the precision and subtlety which prevails here. There, everything was sudden and unexpected.

Lodz, Friday, September 4, 1942

There is terrible panic. No work is being done anywhere. Everyone is trying to get jobs for those not working. Parents are trying everything possible to save their children. The registrar's office was sealed after the lists were completed. Now any attempt at falsifying birth certificates, registry books or other documents is for naught.

Today in our office job assignments were given out in great haste, even though there is talk that they're meaningless, because there will be orders confining everyone indoors. That way medical teams can decide who is fit for work. As an office worker, I was able, despite great difficulty, to get a job in the furniture factory for my mother. In spite of this, I'm terribly worried about her, because she is emaciated and weak.. She's not sick though and has worked in the vegetable gardens on the outskirts of the ghetto all along, and she cooks, cleans and does laundry at home.

In the morning, children between 8 and 10 were registered at the school office for work, but at 12 o'clock it was announced that these registration lists would be void. At 2 o'clock our office was closed, and we were all told to go home until further notice. All factories, offices and agencies were closed, except for food supply, sanitation wagons, police, firemen and various guards. Panic is increasing by the minute.

At 4 o'clock Rumkowski and Warszawski, the head of many factories, spoke at 13 Lutomierska. They said: Sacrificing the children and the elderly is necessary, since nothing can be done to prevent it. Therefore, please do not hinder our effort to carry out this action of deporting them from here.

It's easy for them, since they're able to get the Germans to agree not to take the children of factory heads, firemen, police, doctors, instructors, bureaucrats, and the devil knows who else. All kinds of favoritism will also be set in motion, and the Germans will get entirely different people than the 25,000 they've demanded, people who are fit for work but who'll be sacrificed for the elderly and children with pull. 

In the evening, my father's cousin came to us with her 3 -year old girl, trying to save her. We agreed they could stay and later took in her whole family as well, because they're afraid to stay home, in case they are taken as hostages for the child. Later there was an air raid: a few bombs were dropped, producing sounds that were bliss for every Jew in the ghetto.

Lodz, Saturday, September 5, 1942

My saintly, beloved, worn-out, blessed MOTHER has fallen prey to the bloodthirsty Nazi beast!!!!

In the morning fright enveloped the town, as news spread that last night some children and elderly were taken from their homes and placed in empty hospitals, from which they'll be deported beginning Monday, at a rate of 3,000 a day.

After 2 p.m. vehicles with medical examiners, police, firemen and nurses drove into our street, and the raid began. The house across from us was surrounded and after an hour and a half three children were brought out. The cries, screams and struggles of the mothers and everybody else on our street was indescribable. The children's parents were completely frantic.

While all of this was going on, two doctors, two nurses, a few firemen and policemen quite unexpectedly came to our house. They had a list of tenants in every apartment. The doctors, sour and angry from Prague, began examining everyone very thoroughly, despite objections from the police and nurses. They fished out many 'sick and unfit' people as well as those they described as 'reserve.' My unlucky, dearest mother was among the latter, which is no consolation, since they were all taken together to the hospital at 34 Lagiewnicka.

Our neighbour, 70 -year old Mr. Miller, the uncle of the ghetto's chief doctor, was spared, and my healthy though exhausted mother took his place!!The doctor who examined her, an old geezer, looked and looked for some ailment, and when he was surprised he couldn't find any, said to his companion , in Czech, 'Very weak, very weak.' He wrote down those two wretched words, despite protests from the police and nurses present. These doctors apparently didn't know what they were doing, because they also took David Hammer, a 20-year old who has never been sick in his life. Thanks to his cousin, who's an official, he was re-examined and released, and the two doctors were denounced to the Chairman and not allowed to examine anyone else, but what good is this to me? My mother fell into the trap, and I very much doubt anything will save her.

After my mother's examination and while she was frantically running around the house, begging the doctors to save her life, my father was eating soup. True, he was a bit bewildered and approached the police and the doctors, but he didn't run outside to beg people he knew in power to intercede on her behalf. In short, he was glad to be rid of a wife with whom life was lately getting too hard, a fact which Mother had to struggle with. I swear on all that is holy that if i knew Mother would not be sent to her death, that she'd survive after all. I'd be very pleased with things the way they are.

My little, exhausted mother, who has suffered so much misfortune and whose life has been one long sacrifice for family and others would probably not have been taken because of weakness had she not been robbed of food by my father and Nadzia. My poor mother, who always believed in God and accepted everything that came her way, kept her clarity of mind even now, in spite of her great agitation. With a certain resignation and a heart-rending logic, she spoke to us about her fate. She agreed when I said that she'd given her life by lending and giving away so much food, but she said it in such a way that I knew she had no regrets, for even though she loved life dearly, there were things to value greater than life itself - such as God and family. She kissed each one of us goodbye, took a bag with some bread and potatoes in it, because I forced her to, and left quickly to meet her terrible fate.

I could not muster the strength to look at her through the window, or to cry. I was like a stone. Every now and then nervous spasms gripped my heart, my mouth and my hands. I thought my heart would break but it did not. It allowed me to eat, think, talk and go to bed. Up till now I've considered myself an egoist where life was concerned. However, I'm not sure that it would make that much difference to me if I went to death together with my mother.

It exceeds human endurance to have heard the words Mother said before she was taken and to know that she is an innocent victim. It's true she was designated for the reserve contingent, but our officials will give away the healthiest reserve for the infirm whom they protect. Cursed capitalistic world!

Hala Wolman came to see us in the evening. She works as a nurse in the hospital Mother was taken to. She consoles us that Mother is scheduled for a re-examination and that she'll be released. But nothing can make me happy now, because I know what it means when thousands of condemned have pull - and reserve victims are put in their place. Nadzia cried, screamed and carried on, but that hardly moves anyone now. I am silent and near insanity.

Lodz, Sunday September 6, 1942

Yesterday afternoon notices were posted that from 5 p.m. until further notice no one may leave his apartment without a pass from the police. Excepting of course, these, those, the others, and so on. Apparently there is going to be a serious raid. At night a great many people were taken in other neighbourhoods, but ours was relatively quiet. So far, all this is being done without the Germans and without slaughter - the one thing everyone fears. But let it happen - if only Mother could be returned to me!

Today, at 6:30 I went to Hala Wolman and took a towel, some soap and clean underwear for Mother - articles she requested yesterday through Hala, who promised she'll do everything she can to have Mother re-examined and released. Father, apparently moved by his conscience overnight, went to two or three acquaintances in the morning, seeking help - to no avail, of course. Tonight there was no air raid and little said about miracles coming to us from the outside.

The heat is still extraordinary. In spite of the ban, people are running around the streets, everyone seeking help in his adversity. Now there is talk that the Germans are accompanying the medical teams, and they are deciding who should go and who should stay. All children previously exempted have now been told to report to one hospital, and though Rumkowski insists that the children's registers are iron-clad, no one believes him. Even policemen, instructors and managers are despairing. The cries, mad screaming and wailing are now so common that not much attention is paid to them. Why should I be moved by some other mother's cries, when they've taken my own mother away? No revenge would be enough for this deed!

On Bazarna Street huge gallows have been erected to hang some people from Pabiance, who ran away before it was cleared of Jews. The devil knows why they need these gallows. People who are hiding children in attics, lavatories and other holes are losing their heads in despair. Our street which is very near the hospital, is filled all day with the wails of passing funeral processions, which follow the wagons of victims.

In the evening my father was able to get to Mother. He said the hospital is real hell - everyone is in terrible condition, everything is confused. Mother apparently, is changed beyond recognition, which narrows her slim chance for release. At times I get such jitters and heart spasms that I think I'm going insane or entering delirium. In spite of this, I cannot stop thinking of Mother, and suddenly I find myself, as though I was split in two, inside her mind and body. The hour of her deportation is approaching with no rescue in sight. It rained a bit this evening, with some thunder and lightning, which did not lessen our suffering any. Even a torrential rain could not renew a torn heart.

Lodz, November 12, 1942

Father picked up his potatoes but did nothing to get a job. Meanwhile, he rules the household, but I don't protest. Damn it!

Lodz, November 13, 1942

Father's lying and cheating ways are re-emerging, and I still can't restrain myself.

Lodz, November 17, 1942

Father is still in bed and the situation is getting more irritating. When Nadzia and I are away, he cooks a lot of potatoes for himself and uses a lot of briquettes. He has no intention of getting a job. His old thievery has re-emerged, and he steals from our food. 

Lodz, November 21, 1942

Tension is mounting at home, and sudden outbursts between Father and me are growing more frequent. In spite of all his dirty tricks, he tries to get along with me, but I cannot control myself enough to remain detached. The office is now like paradise for me, and going home fills me with fear and loathing.

Lodz, January 14, 1943

Nadzia went to see Father in the hospital today. He keeps asking for food, so she gave him the 25 dkg. of bread she always did. We can't give him any of our watery vegetable soup. He is not the kind of father for whom it pays to sacrifice one's own health, as our unhappy mother did. My saintly, beloved mother, whom I cannot forget even for one minute, day or night.

Lodz, March 6, 1943

My unhappy father, once so powerful, died today at 4 p.m. He became so weak during the night that he could hardly move in the morning. It was increasingly difficult for him to breathe. He spoke very little, although he was totally conscious and aware of everything. About 3:55 p.m. he suddenly asked me to straighten his pillow. I did, and Father bent his head, lying quite still and breathing imperceptibly. I kept looking at him constantly, from my bed, and all of a sudden he stopped breathing. I didn't believe it and was numb with fear. I called Anka to get a neighbour. A lady came and tried to move his head. Terrified she had to say that Father was dead.

Lodz, Thursday, April 15, 1943

It turns out that, indeed Moniek had asked Mrs Wolkow for a job in the bakery for me and she settled it favourably with the president, in a moment of his grace and good mood. Moniek has promised me that he will try to arrange a laundry coupon for us, so that we can wash our clothes. Meanwhile, I am completely sick and I have a high fever. I bought a Bayer medication for the flu, fever and cold, for Nadzia and me. Nadzia stays in bed and I think she will remain there for another day or two.

Mrs Deutsch came to see me today. She's been assigned to cook Matzoh. It is very fortunate for her, since she looks as if she were dead, and she was in seventh heaven hearing about my possible bakery job. I think she is the most devoted friend I have in the ghetto, or anywhere else for that matter.

In the evening I had to prepare food and cook supper, which exhausted me totally. In politics there's absolutely nothing new. Again, out of impatience I feel myself beginning to fall into melancholy. There is really no way out of this for us. 

This was sadly the last diary entry that Dawid Sierakowiak penned.

Dawid Sierakowiak was born in Lodz on July 25, 1924, and graduated from the  Lodz Ghetto’s Gymnasium in 1941. Weakened by malnutrition, he contacted tuberculosis and died in the ghetto on August 8, 1943, at the age of nineteen.

His diary which was discovered after the Second World War ended, suggests that he was a remarkable young man:  he possessed a strong character, talented as a writer and a caricaturist. He was personally exuberant, intellectually ambitious and socially conscious. He was an active Communist and a member of the ghetto’s political underground.

His father Majlech died of hunger in the Lodz Ghetto on March 6, 1943, and his mother Sura, probably died in mid-September 1942, possibly at the Chelmno death camp. His sister Natalia, (Nadzia) probably died in Auschwitz-Birkenau  during August 1944.


Alan Adelson and Robert Lapides, Lodz Ghetto - Inside A Community Under Siege, Viking, New York, 1989

www. HolocaustResearchProject.org

Thanks To

Carmelo Lisciotto

Konrad Turowski

Photograph - USHMM

© Holocaust Historical Society March 30, 2020