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The Diary of Dawid Sierakowiak: Five Notebooks from the Lodz Ghetto Paperback – 1 Jan 1998

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Product details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; Reprint edition (1 Jan. 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195122852
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195122855
  • Product Dimensions: 19.8 x 2 x 13.5 cm
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,097,933 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


"Dawid's diaries are a terrifying record, all the more so because of the observant intelligence that persisted through life in a man-made hell."--The Atlantic Monthly

About the Author

Alan Adelson is Executive Director of the Jewish Heritage Project in New York. he produced, and with Kathryn Taverna co-directed, the acclaimed documentary film Lodz Ghetto.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
Only two months after their invasion of Poland on September 1, 1939, the Nazis began drawing up specific plans for the forced concentration in an urban slave camp of the vast Jewish population that had grown up in the city of Lodz. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Back Cover
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 14 reviews
20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
Should be considered for a Required Reading in High School 22 Oct. 2005
By P. Bailey - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is the most powerful and memorable book on the Holocaust I have ever read. Kids in school read Anne Frank, I suppose because it is so popular. It was the first memoir found, not the most telling or interesting. This book is also a great psychology book as it so graphically shows the heirarchy of needs as the situation becomes more desperate. I wish that teachers of senior or junior honors classes would consider this over Brave New World where the main character gives up. Dawid, is a much more positive book of the human spirit in that he continues to deal with the ever worstening cards he is given and works hard to survive. This book hits on so many topics: history, psychology, the power of the human spirit, man's cruelty and literature as Dawid was an exceptional mind for his age.
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Verbal and Photographic Insights into the Lodz Ghetto 23 July 2008
By Jan Peczkis - Published on
Format: Paperback
This review is based on the 1996 Oxford hardback edition. Sierakowiak devotes a considerable number of entries to the 1939 German-Soviet conquest of Poland. On Sept. 14, it rained. Sierakowiak notes that, had this been going on since Sept. 1, the German tanks would've gotten stuck in the mire (p. 38). On Sept. 19, Sierakowiak repudiated Hitler's lies, in which the Fuhrer, in a radio broadcast, had blamed Poland for starting the war and for mistreating the German minority (p. 42).

A radio program from London mentioned the Germans' vain seeking of Prince Janusz Radziwill to form a collaborationist government (Nov. 5, 1939; p. 59). This adds refutation to the claim that there was no Polish Quisling because the Germans never wanted one.

No sooner had the German entered Lodz then they began to persecute both Jews and Poles. On Nov. 17, 1939, the Germans forced Polish priests to destroy the Kosciuszko statue with sledge hammers. This being ineffective, the Germans resorted to dynamite (p. 63).

A common Polonophobic Holocaust theme is the one about Poles habitually delighting in Jewish humiliation and suffering. In contrast, Sierakowiak writes (Nov. 18, 1939; p. 64): "The Poles cast down their eyes at the sight of the Jews with their armbands; friends assure us that `it won't be for long.'" In view of the fact that Sierakowiak otherwise never mentions Polish attitudes, and that negative incidents are more likely to be remembered and recorded in diaries than positive ones, this takes on further significance.

Sierakowiak was irreligious (p. 38). And, not only was he pro-Communist, but in fact he praised Communists and condemned capitalism many times (p. 88, 92, 102, 105, 155, 220, 260, 263, etc.).

As for leader Chaim Rumkowski (Rumkovsky) and his privileged Jews, Sierakowiak elaborates on the inequities between the well-fed, well-clad Jews and the starving, ragged Jews (p. 176, 198, 245). When Rumkowski ordered the timely and obedient fulfillment of the German order to deport Jewish children and the elderly ("useless eaters" for extermination), Sierakowiak noted the many kinds of privileged Jews whose children and elderly relatives had been exempt from this order (pp. 216-217).

The Germans used some Jews to beat other Jews (March 16, 1943; p. 258). During the deportations, one unarmed Jewish policeman each was assigned to supervise the loading of about 100 Jews onto the trains (p. 270). Armed Germans didn't usually get involved until the latter phases of the day's loadings.

Owing to the fact that the Jews in the Lodz ghetto had been exploited for German war production, they were spared for most of the duration of the war. Not until August 1944 did the Germans liquidate the Lodz ghetto.
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
The most poignant memoir I have read on the Holocaust 31 July 1999
By Eva - Published on
Format: Paperback
This book deserves a Five Star "Plus." It is an absolute "must" read for those interested in the destruction of European Jewry. I have read very many memoirs on the Holocaust, some quite good, yet none moved me to tears as much as Dawid's diary. What I found remarkable was that a 15-year old (his age when he started writing his diary) should have so much depth and so much wisdom. His description of his extreme hunger and finally his feelings when his mother was deported are extremely poignant. His love for his mother and the extreme agony he experienced when they took her away defies description.
As Adelson writes in the Foreward, Dawid is "increasingly piqued by the hierarchy of privilege that prevails among Jews in the ghetto." The "privileged" do not lack food or adequate shelter while the "ordinary" Jews (which was the overwhelming majority)literally starve. Dawid, a devout Marxist, writes eloquently about these "privileged" Jews. All this privilege of the few and suffering of the majority further reinforces his Marxist principles.
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Diary of Dawid Sierakowiak reflects horror of Lodz Ghetto 7 April 1997
By A Customer - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Writings about the Holocaust take many forms--novels, stories, poems, plays, histories. But, as `The Diary of Anne Frank` showed, none has the effect of actual reports left behind by its victims. `The Diary of Dawid Sierakowiak:
Five Notebooks from the Lodz Ghetto` is quite different from Anne Frank's memoirs because, unlike Anne, who was hidden away from the Nazis for years, Dawid lived openly in the sealed ghetto of this Polish city and was a witness to and victim of the deprivations, humiliations and cruelties inflicted on the Jewish populace. He was 15 years old when he began to keep his notes, and 19 when he died of illness and starvation in 1943. His diary, edited by Alan Adelson and translated by Kamil Turowski, is written with a sardonic humor and growing despair that can still horrify today. It is illustrated by shocking photos of life in the Lodz ghetto, most of them taken surreptitiously."
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Deterioration 22 Aug. 2007
By Eshtemoa - Published on
Format: Paperback
Teen-ager Dawid Sierakowiak, imprisoned with his family in the Lodz Ghetto, at first carries on a "normal" life, discussing politics with his friends and keeping up with his studies.
More and more restrictions on the population-- illness, lack of food, hygiene, fuel and money, eventually take their toll on everyone. Existence deteriorates to the point at which Dawid knows he will soon die, and he does so 4 months later.
Every aspect of this slow death to the ghetto residents who are not murdered was planned by the Germans.
There are many photographs, which enhance the narrative.
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