Schoolboy from Lodz, member of the Jewish scout organisation Hashomer Hatzair
Today is the last day of the year 1939. The year began with tension and ended with a war. We sincerely wish that the new year that will start a new decade will be better and brighter. If it will not be better, it will be worse. The war and occupation will carry on. We don't know what lies ahead for us, what will change and happen in the world.
Today, a Soviet delegation arrived at Lodz to exchange German people from occupied (by the Soviets) Polish territories for local Ukrainians and Belarusians.
One young man read an article written by General Sikorski in a French weekly magazine. Apparently, he promises that liberation will happen soon. A very nice prospect but it feels as questionable as other rumors and "news".
There's a lot of rumors, but the more there is, the less believable they get. I don't believe in yesterday's news anymore.
I come back from school after five, do some of my homework, and go to the Grodzenskis' to listen to the evening bulletin in Polish from London. It has become my daily routine. After the bulletin we discuss it, and our discussions always end with sighs. The war is not going very well. Russia has already taken over 60 percent of Poland's land, and, in addition, it has extended its control to Estonia. Warsaw is in ruins, there is no water or food there; it will fall any day, while the French are still grinding on the Siegfried Line. Tomorrow Ribbentrop is going to Moscow on Stalin's invitation. Apparently, they will divide Poland between themselves.
The streets of Lodz feel eerie. Although richly decorated with Nazi flags, they are gray and sad.
An official price list for food products has been announced, but profiteering remains rampant. People voluntarily offer more money just to get the goods, so they won't have to chase around begging for necessities. A person has to wait in line for bread for five or six hours, only to go away empty-handed 50 percent of the time. They are still seizing people for forced labor. Nothing seems to go well.
At five I listened to Hitler's speech. After an enthusiastic greeting and welcome, he spoke from Die befreite Stadt Danzig. The speech, however, wasn't worthy of this otherwise great statesman. He raged, quibbled, got excited, insulted, begged, coaxed, and, above all, he lied and lied... He lied by saying that Poland started the war; he lied by speaking about the oppression of Germans in Poland ("Barbaren!"); he lied by speaking of his always good, peaceful intentions, and so on.
After that, he served up a series of insults against Polish authorities, Churchill, Cooper (Duff), and Eden. He spoke about his desire for an accord with the English and French peoples, and he still talked about the injustice of the Versailles Treaty, at which point he announced that Poland will never exist within the borders established by this treaty(!). Finally, he announced that English efforts to overthrow the ruling regime in Germany will never succeed, which proves the existence and seriousness of such movements. At the end, Hitler discussed his good relations with Russia (?) and the impossibility of a German-Russian conflict breaking out. After a few pathetic remarks about Gdansk, he finished his speech.
The looting of shops continues. They take everything they can. At the Epsztajns' store in Reymonta Square, they stole the entire stock of jewelry and watches. The poor Epsztajns barely managed to escape alive.
In the afternoon, I wanted to go downtown to find out about our school, but my parents wouldn't let me. Tomorrow Mom will learn what's going on from a fellow who was supposedly in school on Monday.
The Rabinowiczes and their neighbors have come back from wandering around. They look terrible. Their two sons rode on another cart, and they didn't come back. Nobody knows where they are. The Rabinowiczes tell of shootings, searching for places to sleep, long marches, dangers, etc. It makes my flesh crawl. There are some humorous moments, too. Evidently, humor can be found everywhere. A laugh amid all the unhappiness.
Today for the first time Mom went for bread but didn't get any. For a week, she got up at five in the morning, stood in line until seven, when they opened the bakery and gave a kilo of bread to everyone. Today she went again, but there was no bread left. Maybe we should get up at 1:00 A.M. to get there, and wait.
Downtown, Nazi agents remove Jews from all food lines, so a poor Jew who doesn't have a servant is condemned to death by hunger. These are German humanitarian policies in the twentieth century.
Old Synagogue, so-called Moorish at Wolborska street in Łódź.
Erev Rosh Hashanah. Again I don't go out anywhere! The holiday is sad and meager, no different from any other day. The same dry bread with a small bit of herring. (Only the herring makes the holiday different from any other day.)
According to an order announced today, the stores are to be open tomorrow. This is the worst blow to the Jews here in centuries. Rosh Hashanah! Open stores! At the same time, synagogues are to be closed. We have no chance to pray communally for mercy. All basic human freedoms are being destroyed. See more
Although I am not a traditionally pious man, and every year I have considered the avoidance of prayer as a liberation, I now experience every order pertaining to the Jews with great pain because I know what faith brings to its believers; they are at least partially at peace and happy. To take away from a man his only consolation, his faith, to forbid his beloved, life-affirming religion is the most horrendous crime. Jews won't let Hitler get away with it. Our revenge will be terrible.
People are being seized again for forced labor; beatings and robbings. The store where my father works has also been robbed. Local Germans do whatever they wish.
There are numerous stories of how they treat Jews at work; some Germans treat them very well, while others bully them sadistically. I heard of a place, for example, where the Jewish employees were ordered to stop working, undress, and face a wall. Then they were told that they would be shot. Indeed, they were aimed at with great precision. No one was hurt, but this procedure was repeated several times and it threw most of the Jews completely off balance—that's what Lodz Nazis can do.
The first signs of German occupation: they are seizing Jews to dig. A certain retired professor living in the eleventh building warned me against going downtown. A good old man—a Christian. And now what to do?
Tomorrow is the first day of school. Who knows how our dear school has been? My friends are going there tomorrow to find out what's going on, while I have to stay home. I have to! My parents say that they are not going to lose me yet. Oh, my dear school!... Damn the times when I complained about getting up in the morning and about tests. If only I could have them back!
In the morning they posted an announcement in Polish and German (German first) calling on people to remain calm when the German troops march in.
Signed: The Citizens' Committee of the City of Lodz.