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Children of War

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World War II Diaries
Excerpts from Children in the Holocaust and World
War II—Their Secret Diaries

(Laurel Holliday. New York: Washington Square Press, 1995.)

Janine Phillips - Poland - 10 years old - August 23, 1939

“Papa says that war is inevitable. I asked Papa why Hitler wants to attack us and Papa said because he’s a greedy bully. ... Grandpa remembers many wars and he says that a war not only kills people but it also kills people’s souls.”

Tamarah Lazerson - Lithuania - 13 years old - December 5, 1943

“I am weighed down by my enslavement and have no time or strength to write, to think, or even to read. I am mired in a morass, into which I sink as I daily labor from early morning to night with the slave gang. Around me is darkness. I thirst for light...”

Yitskhok Rudashevski - Lithuania - 14 years old

“We live in the ghetto as owners of white certificates. The mood of slaughter has not yet disappeared. What has been will soon be repeated. Meanwhile life is so hard. The owners of white certificates do not go out to work. ... You hear people shout, ‘We wish, we also wish to eat!’... Police are beating, chasing people. ... The policemen are urging us on to go more quickly. The frightened people feel that they ought not to go. I sensed the craftiness of the exterminators.”

Macha Rolnikas - Lithuania - 14 years old - June, 1941

“New decrees have been posted in the town: all the Jews—adults and children—must wear insignias, a white piece of cloth, ten square centimeters, and in the middle the yellow letter ’J.’ Is it possible that the invaders no longer regard us as human beings and brand us like cattle? One can not accept such meanness. But who dares to oppose them?”

Sarah Fishkin - Poland - 17 years old - July 24, 1941

“There seems to be no future for the Jewish population.”

“For the Jew the light of day is covered with a thick veil: his road is overgrown with tall wild grasses. Every horizon upon which his eye rests is stained with the tears of lost children searching for their mothers in the dense woods. Convulsed with sobbing until their little souls expired, the youngsters are now lifeless, at eternal rest. Only the quivering trees know of their death and will later on bear witness about the sacrifice of these little ones.”

“No human heart can remain untouched and unpained by all of this. It is beyond human endurance to see so much trouble and so much suffering experienced. It is painful to see people tortured by people until life is ended. Where is the human conscience, to demand truth, to cry out?”

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