PROLOGUE (JANUARY 1935):
My name is Julian Zycheavik and I am a Polish jew. This is my diary
which I have decided to write, so that I can hopefully relive my youth when I
read this when I am an old man. I live in the south of Poland with my family
which I adore very much since they mean everything to me. We have a small family
business, a small shop, which supplies us with enough money to get by on during
these hard times since the slump nearly five years ago. Life is hard but
rewarding at the moment, soon there will be a new member to the family, since my
wife is expecting our second child. I hope one day to see my children grow up
and carry on the business which I started nearly eight years ago in 1927.
Today I received a letter from my sister Erika, who lives in Germany.
She too followed the family tradition and set up her own shop in Germany with
her husband, but in this letter she seems to be very distressed and worried. She
says that life has started to become very difficult since 1933. There has been a
new ruling body installed in Germany called NAZI and according to her newspapers
it is led by a hero, who has come to save Germany; Adolf Hitler. These Nazis
oppose our jewish religion greatly; nearly everybody does, but this is a new
strain of hatred that I have no seen before. In letter she states that some new
anti-semitic rules called "The Nuremburg Laws" came into effect just this month
which will practically sign her business' death warrant. Over the pass year her
shop has been fire bombed several times and even her distressed children are
receiving threats from kids their own age. Her husband has even been assaulted
by brown shirted thugs belonging to this Nazi party. I hope she will write soon
because I think she will not be able to cope with any more of this harassment.
There is an air of uncertainty of the frost bittern streets of our city.
We are currently celebrating "Chunakah", the festival of Light which coincides
with Christmas. These celebrations are now hollow to us, hollow with the
emptiness of absent relatives. Many of my friends like me are worried for our
loved ones in Germany and Czechoslovakia. The Nazi power in Germany has grown
like an petty acorn to a giant oak tree. There are daily reports in our papers
about increased pogroms against our fellow jews and families in Germany. My
family and I are very worried about my sister. We have not heard from here
lately. My children keep asking:
"Daddy, Daddy, oh when we see aunty Erika again? Has she been gotten by
that nasty Hitler man?".
I do not know how to reply to them, I just pray to God that she is safe from our
new threat. I feel immense anxiety due to the new reports of "Kristallnacht",
the Night of Broken glass, which occurred two weeks ago quite near were my
sister is living. The word on the street is that every synagogue in Germany has
been ransacked by the Nazis. There are also rumours of immense numbers of Jewish
books being burn there as well. This, according to my neighbour, is a grave omen
of what is to come since he says that when you start to burn books, you start to
burn people. I am not too sure what he means by this, but it does not sound good.
It has been a long and worrying summer, I am now fearing for my sister's
life since I have heard nothing at all from her. I think she may have been
harmed by those pogroms ordered by those Nazis. Today, the Shabbat (the
Sabbath), as I was coming back from the synagogue, the large ominous black
letters on a news stand caught my eye:
"HITLER DEMANDS DANZIG"
It suddenly struck home, not only was sister in grave danger, but now I
was becoming distressed, I thought about my wife and my children, the people in
my street, will we safe? Could he invade Poland, like he did with
Czechoslovakia? What has happened to my sister?
SEPTEMBER 1st 1939:
I tried to hold back the tears when I heard the news. The German army
was coming. Hitler had turned on us jews, now he was turning our country. The
news came in the form of a alarmed voice of the newsreader on the wireless. We
were all gathered around the radio ever since the rumours on the street had
soared that we were in danger from the Nazi invasion. Within an hour of the
news breaking there was hysteria outside, people were running about, grasping
their few possessions, the sound of screaming children and their crying mothers
filled the air, even some men were breaking down after being strangled by the
atmosphere of panic; all this done in a vain attempt to escape the onslaught of
the reported army. Seeing that there was nowhere no escape since the Germans
where coming from the north-east and Nazi occupied Czechoslovakia was to the
south we decided to try and hide. Maybe God will help us.
SEPTEMBER 3rd 1939:<...