The Jewish children of Lodz suffered unfolding harsh realities after the German invasion of Poland. Some of the children, among them Dawid Sierakowiak, recorded their experiences in diaries. Their voices offer a view into the struggle of a community and its young to live in spite of the most difficult circumstances.
“A student from the same grade as ours died from hunger and exhaustion yesterday. As a result of his terrible appearance, he was allowed to eat as much soup in school as he wanted, but it didn't help him much. He is the third victim in the class.” —Dawid Sierakowiak, age 16, May 13, 1941
“I'll start my work in the saddlery workshop tomorrow. My student career has been suspended, at least for a while. The main thing now is to make an income and survive poverty.” —Dawid Sierakowiak, age 17, October 23, 1941
“All I care is that there is soup in my workshop.” —Dawid Sierakowiak, age 17, April 3, 1942
“We are not considered humans at all; just cattle for work or slaughter. No one knows what happened to the Jews deported from Lodz. No one can be certain of anything now. They are after Jews all over the Reich.” —Dawid Sierakowiak, age 17, May 20, 1942
Dawid Sierakowiak was born in Lodz, Poland, in July 1924. He and his younger sister Nadia lived with their parents Majlech and Sura Sierakowiak. Dawid was a student in a private Jewish Gymnasium in Lodz, where he was on a scholarship.
He kept a diary from before the war where he meticulously noted not only the events but his own feelings, moods, and opinions. Dawid was an avid reader and an excellent observer.
Throughout Dawid's imprisonment in the Lodz ghetto he made sure to write about his hopes and doubts and the tragedies that happened. He described with great feeling taking of his beloved mother during the Gehsperre Aktion and his diminishing love for his own father.
Dawid Sierakowiak's diary ends in April 1943 with a hopeful note about getting a job in the ghetto bakery, where he would be able to eat. We do not know if he got this job or not, but we do know that this talented young man died on August 8, 1943, probably of tuberculosis. He wrote in his diary: "I so very much want to live and survive."
His sister was deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau, where she was murdered. Five notebooks of Dawid's diary survived.