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Renia Spiegel

In August 1939, she was staying at her grandparents' small apartment in Przemyśl and attended the local school.

Renia Spiegel

In August 1939, she was staying at her grandparents' small apartment in Przemyśl and attended the local school.

Russians have entered the city. There are still shortages of food, clothing, shoes, everything. Long lines are forming in front of every shop. The Russians are especially eager to buy things. They’ve been organizing raids to get watches, fabrics, shoes, etc.

This Red Army is strange. You can’t tell a private from an officer. They all wear the same grayish-brown uniforms. They all speak the language I can’t understand. They call each other “Tovarishch”. Sometimes the officers’ faces are more intelligent, though. Poland has been totally flooded by the German and Russian armies. The only island still fighting is Warsaw. Our government has fled the country. And I had so much faith. See more

My dear diary! I had a strange day today. Lwow surrendered. Not to Germany, but to Russia. The Polish soldiers were disarmed in the streets. Some, with tears in their eyes, just dropped their bayonets to the ground and watched the Russians break their rifles. I feel such grief, such great grief. Only a small handful are still fighting. Despite the order, defenders of Lwow are continuing their heroic fight to die for their homeland.

We’ve been in Lwow for almost a week. The city is surrounded. Food is in short supply. Sometimes I get up at dawn and stand in a long line to get bread. Apart from that, we’ve been spending all day in a bunker, listening to the terrible whistling of bullets and explosions of bombs. God, please save us. Some bombs destroyed several tenement houses, and three days later they dug people out from the rubble, alive. Some people are sleeping in the bunkers; those brave enough to sleep at home have to wake up several times each night and run downstairs to their cellars. This life is terrible. We’re yellow, pale from this cellar life—from the lack of water, comfortable beds and sleep.

Oh, God! My God! We’ve been on the road for three days now. Przemysl was attacked. We had to flee. The three of us escaped: me, Ariana and Grandpa. We left the burning city in the middle of the night on foot, carrying our bags. Granny stayed behind. Lord, please protect her. We heard on the road that Przemysl was being destroyed.

War has broken out! Since last week, Poland has been fighting with Germany. England and France also declared war on Hitler and surrounded him on three sides. But he isn’t sitting idly. Enemy planes keep flying over Przemysl, and every now and then there’s an air raid siren. But, thank God, no bombs have fallen on our city so far. Other cities like Krakow, Lwow, Czestochowa and Warsaw have been partially destroyed.
But we’re all fighting, from young girls to soldiers. I’ve been taking part in female military training—digging air raid trenches, sewing gas masks. I’ve been serving as a runner. I have shifts serving tea to the soldiers. I walk around and collect food for the soldiers. In a word, I’m fighting alongside the rest of the Polish nation. I’m fighting and I’ll win!

I have not written to you for a long time, long time. The school year already ended, the holiday will end soon and I have not written to you yet. I was at my aunt’s, I was in Warsaw, I met my mummy and I am here again. But you do not know anything. You are lying closed, left with my thoughts and you do not know that we are mobilising secretly, you do not know that Russia signed a pact with Germany, you do not know that people are collecting food, that everybody is vigilant and waiting… for the war. So when I said goodbye to my mummy I hugged her tight. I wanted to say everything with that silent hug, I wanted to take her soul and leave her mine, because when will I see her??? See more