The greatest crime of the 20th century was happening before their eyes. They couldn't hide like Anne Frank. Nor were they protected outsiders like the Mary Berg I wrote about a few days ago. When the war was over, they had long lost their lives. But their thoughts and words have survived to this day.
Dawid Rubinowicz was born on July 27, 1927 and was the son of a milkman and midwife, Josek and Tauba Rubinowicz. His family was one of seven Jewish families living in the village of Krajno in the Kielce region. At that time, the entire Kielce poviat was inhabited by approx. 33 thousand. Jews.
Little is known about David's life before the war. It is known that he was a gifted boy, that he liked the military, trips to the forest and cycling. He was a child curious about the world. Probably the latter feature made him start writing a diary in March 1940.
At first, his notes are very laconic. They concern everyday life and the restrictions applied to Jews at that time. The first note of March 21, 1940 tells about a poster spotted on the street: The new announcement was that Jews would not ride entirely on carts (trains were forbidden a long time ago) . Also on the following pages, Dawid describes in a simple way the brutal realities of the war:
Yesterday, after lunch, I went to Bodzętyn because I was making bombs and I was going to spend the night. The Gendarmerie arrived early this morning. When they were driving along the road, they met one Jew walking outside the city and shot him immediately for no reason.
Only thanks to this one photo we know what Dawid Rubinowicz looked like (click to enlarge).
Yeah [k] there were 2 victims for no reason. When I was going home I was very afraid that I would miss them sometimes, but I missed them (12 December 1941; original spelling).
The rest is not silence
In March 1942, he and his family were moved to the ghetto in Bodzentyn. In the meantime, we can notice that his notes are getting longer and more emotional:
[…] While in Słupia, the gendarmes took three Jews and dealt with them in Bieliny (of course, they were shot). A lot of Jewish blood has been spilled in Bieliny, and a Jewish cemetery has become really established. When the end of this horrible bloodshed comes. […]
The inspiration for this article was Anne Frank's Diary (Znak Horizon 2015).
A peasant from Krajno came to us, say [i] ł that our former neighbor was shot to death by his daughter because she was walking after 7 o'clock. I don't want to believe me, but anything can be possible. A girl like a flower so that she can be shot, it must be the end of the world (April 10, 1942).
The last entry is dated June 1, 1942. It stops mid-sentence. We know that soon Dawidek and his family were taken to the railway station in Suchedniów, from where on September 22 at 11:24 AM the train to Treblinka started.
Before his deportation, the boy managed to ask his friend, Tadek Waciński, to keep the journal. In 1957, Maria Jarochowska, a journalist who was handed over the boy's notes, appeared in Bodzentyn. Soon Diary was published, and Dawid Rubinowicz became a symbol of the tragedy of the Kielce region Jews.
Jews herded on a train to Treblinka.
"The Diary" of Dawid Sierakowiak
Rubinowicz's namesake, Dawid Sierakowiak, was born on July 25, 1924. He came from a poor, petty-bourgeois family of Łódź Jews. He was an above-average gifted, intelligent and hardworking boy, which resulted in winning a scholarship to study in a private gymnasium.
However, he never managed to finish school - six months after the outbreak of the war, he and his family ended up in the Litzmannstadt Ghetto established in Bałuty, the poorest district of Łódź.
At that time, Dawid, a born humanist, began to keep his diary. The records are more of a chronicle of life in the ghetto than private thoughts. Virtually every record contains information about the amount of the daily or weekly food ration.
The boy meticulously describes the information he heard about the course of the war. He also comments on the actions of "King Chaim the First", ie Chaim Rumkowski, the chairman of the Judenrat in Łódź.
No hope for better…
Initially, the boy continued his education - in his journal he describes lessons, activities in an underground youth group, as well as work in publishing swede and tutoring for younger children.
Dawid Sierakowiak in the only preserved photograph (click to enlarge).
However, the notes from 1942 change character - Dawid works hard physically, he has no strength to write or read, which he loves so much:
I am so weakened that I lie dead for days. I don't read anything or feel like nothing. Slow dying starts. (5 VII 1942)
Day after day, the rations come out, you buy them, eat them, starve yourself while eating and after, and wait persistently, constantly and unwaveringly to end this damned diabolical war . Resort, home, meals, reading, a night with bedbugs and cockroaches, and so on endlessly, with the constant loss of strength, the disappearing efficiency of the body and mind (August 11, 1942).
His notes end in the tragic September 1942 - after the announcement of the so-called "Great Shpera". The last words of the journal are a poignant record of waiting for the deportation from the ghetto of a sick mother - "the most beloved person" in his life. David lived for less than a year. Meanwhile, he also lost his father.
Litzmannstadt Ghetto in 1940.
He died on August 8, 1943 after a long battle with tuberculosis. His sister, Natalia, was deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau during the liquidation of the ghetto. After the war, the notebooks containing David's notes from 1941 and 1942 were sent to the Jewish Historical Institute, which first published them in its bulletin at the end of the 1950s.
Read also the article about Polish Annom Frank - Jewish girls who describe the Holocaust.
- Kowalska-Leder, The Holocaust Experience from the Child's Perspective in Polish Personal Document Literature , Wrocław 2009.
- Młodkowska, How Dawidek Rubinowicz writes about the extermination , [in] "Midrasz", No. 2/2002.
- Rubinowicz, Diary , Warsaw 1987.
- Sierakowiak, Diary , Warsaw 1960.
- Żukowski , Will I also feel like myself again?… , [in] "Midrasz", No. 2/2002.