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March 23, 2009

The Diary of Dawid Sierakowiak - Your Personal Reading Reponses

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24 March 2009

ENG 340 Students,

Please respond to your reading of The Diary of Dawid Sierakowiak below. You do not have . . .

. . . to do the "three responses to other student's responses" for this exercise. We will continue that for the next class reading. For this reading, however, you are to do report your class groupwork activity in a separate entry of Dawid Sierakowiak HERE.

See you in our next class meeting,

Dr. Hobbs


MORE literary-centered student discussion of The Diary of Dawid Sierakowiak can be found HERE

To see other English-Blog entries on the subject of Holocaust Studies, please click HERE

Posted by lhobbs at March 23, 2009 09:43 PM

Readers' Comments:

22 March 2007


Discuss The Diary of Dawid Sierakowiak below.

See you in class,

Dr. Hobbs

P.S. Previous student discussion of The Diary of Dawid Sierakowiak can be found HERE


Erin M. Rock
Professor Hobbs
English 121.003 Humanities Literature
19 March 2007

Moments In Time

People keep diaries for different reasons. Some may keep a food diary while others may keep a diary of their medications. No matter what the reason is, they are charting important things in their life in order to reflect upon them at a later time. A diary for personal reasons is being discussed in this case.
When someone writes in a diary, they are telling their life narrative. They are giving information about their life as they live it. A diary is something very special to the individuals who choose to keep one. Writing in a diary can be a very private thing for some. Inside, it holds their deepest, darkest secrets, things they would never tell anyone else. It plays a role as a friend that they can tell anything to and get no judgments made upon them in return. A diary can be looked upon years down the road and experiences can be reminisced.
Dawid Sierakowiak kept a diary for similar reasons. He was a young man at the age of fifteen when his diary began (Sierakowiak, vii). He was heading off to summer camp and decided to start a diary. He probably thought a diary would be a good idea because his time at camp would be fun and full of memories that he would never want to forget. Unfortunately, things turned out completely different from what he expected.
At the beginning of his diary, while he was at summer camp, the mood was very light (Sierakowiak, 21). He was having a good time and wrote about all of the different activities that he and his friends were participating in. Slowly things got progressively worse. The people of Lodz were going poor, grocery stores were running out of food, and then suddenly on September 1, Germany declared war.
Eventually the Germans took over Lodz (Sierakowiak, 36). When school began, Dawid badly wanted to go, but his parents refused. His parents told him that they didn’t want to lose him yet. He regretted ever complaining about going to school and getting up in the morning. It’s interesting how hungry for education children get when they are not allowed to attend school. When Dawid quit going to school all together, the diary helped him through the transition. He benefited from keeping the diary, in that it was a way of educating himself and keeping up with his literary skills. It’s clear that his skills got better as the story progressed.
On September 18, 1939, Dawid wrote about his family’s unfortunate situation with money (Sierakowiak, 40). He explained that his mom went to his father’s boss to ask for some money. His father’s boss refused. Dawid proclaimed that his family will probably die of hunger. If he only knew what was to come of him later in his life.
It’s interesting that at the beginning of his diary he is having so much fun that he doesn’t write in his diary every day. He usually wrote about every other day. Then, by the end of the book, and long before that, he writes every single day. I believe it really helped him keep his sanity during this time. It was a way for him to escape, just for a few moments, from the gloomy world surrounding him.
Although Dawid’s diaries were written around seventy years ago, the same things hold true today. Similar to children today who keep diaries, Dawid wanted to keep a record in order to look back upon it years down the road. He also wanted to have something to confide in so that he didn’t have to hold back his feelings. He wrote whatever he was thinking with no worries of offending anyone. In a way I believe Dawid was hoping that his diaries would be found down the road. Just like the children who make time capsules today. Dawid’s diary was his own personal time capsule.

Work Cited
Sierakowiak, Dawid. The Diary of Dawid Sierakowiak: Five Notebooks from the Lodz Ghetto. Ed. Alan Adelson. 1996. New York: Oxford University Press. 1996

Posted by: Dr. Hobbs at March 26, 2007 03:15 PM

Brooke Decker
Dr. Lee Hobbs
English Humanities Literature 121.003
9, March 2006

An Awkward Circumstance: 150-year-old Boy keeps a Diary
Is it important for people to keep a diary? A diary is solely a day by day record of facts, kind of like a journal of experiences that someone goes through in life (Webster’s Dictionary). Keeping a diary may be significant to some people, but not to everyone, it all depends on the individual and what their perspectives on keeping a diary are. Diaries are intended to keep the actions or events a person endures through in life or to just essentially express their feelings in a matter that no one else will be able to understand. Writing in a diary may perhaps be the only way someone can honestly express their thoughts, feelings, and ideas.
The class read a book called The Diary of Dawid Sierakowiak,, written by Dawid Sierakowiak himself, edited by Alan Adelson, and translated by Kamil Turawski. These diary entries were written specifically by Dawid Sierakowiak, a 15 year old boy, himself. The diaries are written within five different notebooks and are all from the “LODZ GHETTO.” It was said in the book that there were additional journal entries but they got lost, and these were the only entries left (Sierakowiak, Dawid). Dawid was a young Jewish boy who had to experience life threatening, and aggressive obstacles like the Holocaust. Dawid’s diary entries begin on June 28, 1939, a few days before he turned 15 years old and they end on April 15, 1943, a few days before his 19th birthday, and all were written during the time of the Holocaust (Sierakowiak, Dawid. Foreword). Sadly, Dawid did not survive the Holocaust; he died on August 8, 1943 of Tuberculosis (Sierakowiak, Dawid Foreword).
Dawid’s motives for keeping these diary entries were without a doubt, very different from any other 15 year old boy in today’s society. Motives are mental forces that induces an act, or determining an impulse, something that is intentional or on purpose (Webster’s Dictionary). When I first began to read this narrative, my initial thoughts were that Dawid was an extremely, intelligent young teenage boy, and he had a passion for writing, and expressing his feelings and ideas through writing in a diary. Within each of his diary entries he stated what was specifically going on around him, and his actual feelings towards the Holocaust. Many times through out the entries, Dawid would state the little amounts of food that they received, or about the work he would have to perform at his job (Sierakowiak, Dawid 192). Dawid didn’t always express exactly how he felt, but rather the events that are typically happening around him. In some parts of the entries he did express his feelings like when he wrote about the pain from his tooth and when his father and he get into an argument with his father, because his father was being greedy with the food (Sierakowiak, Dawid 192-198). These diary entries are very personal and heart-felt. I am sure that when Dawid was writing these; he was writing them to look back on in years to come.
The difference between Dawid keeping a journal back then, and a 15 year old boy keeping one today is that society has changed so much. In today’s society, it’s more about fitting in with the other children, and if people found out that a 15 year old boy was writing in a diary, they would get made fun of, but back during the Holocaust, it didn’t matter, it seemed as though it was the normal thing to do. Today’s society is based on stereotypes; it isn’t the normal everyday thing to do for a 15 year old boy to write in a diary. Now, in today’s society, it is normal for them to be outside playing sports or hanging with their friends. In today’s society, the motives to writing in a diary now are very simplistic compared to the diaries written during the Holocaust time period. Boys and children today express their feelings through actions rather than writing. Also, in today’s society, people would find it common for young girls to write in diaries, but it is still different than Dawid’s, because the young girls tend to write about there latest crush, or what them and their friends do, compared to Dawid’s which was more serious and heart touching. Dawid’s diary has a little more meaning to others rather than people who write their own personal diaries today. All this boils down to the actual individual themselves and how they feel, and if they believe that keeping a diary is important, I believe it is important since its about individuals personal life.

Works Cited
Sierakowiak, Dawid. The Diary of Dawid Sierakowiak: Five notebooks from the Lodz Ghetto.
1939-43. Ed. Alan Adelson. Trans. Kamil Turowski. New York: Oxford UP, 1998.

Morehead, Albert and Loy. The New-American Webster Handy College Dictionary. 3rd edition. Phillip D. Morehead. 1995.

Posted by: Brooke Decker at March 26, 2007 07:18 PM

Melisa Parsons
Lee Hobbs
ENGL 121. 003 Humanities Literature
8 March 2007
Everything Isn’t What it Seems
After reading The Diary of Dawid Sierakowiak, many people would assume that Dawid’s father is mean and very selfish. The people who believes Dawid’s father is mean, nasty and selfish may not have taken into consideration that he is probably going through the worse time of his life. The mean things that Dawid’s father is doing would not be in his personality characteristics under normal circumstances. Before the Holocaust, men were supposed to be the protector and the provider to their families, with the Nazi taken over, men were not allowed to do the things they were used to doing for themselves and their families. I would assume from the behaviors Dawid’s father displayed throughout the story that he is suffering from depression. The living conditions that his family was living in were unbearable and there was not anything he could do about it, which might make him feel less than a man.
The things that were non-fictive about Mr. Sierakowiak is that he was doing things that seemed to be very odd. Mr. Sierakowiak took portions of food from his family although he knew his family only had a limited a supply of food (Sierakowiak pg 95). When Dawid received a job his father stated that Dawid was changing (Sierakowiak pg 107). Instead of being happy for his son, Mr. Sierakowiak seemed to be angry with his son and jealous as well. When Dawid’s father lost his job he did not try to look for another job he stayed at home and ate up his family’s food. The Holocaust changed Mr. Sierakowiak for the worse because during a troublesome time, he treated his family badly. During a troublesome time family should come close together instead Dawid’s father only thought about himself.
Moreover, here are some things that are fictive about Dawid’s father that he is a selfish person. What I believe is that Mr. Sierakowiak could not handle all stress that was going on in his life. He probably felt very ashamed that he could not do for his family. Although, he was working his family was still struggling to get by. Dawid’s father was not thinking in his right state of mind. Dawid’s father was still eating up the family’s food when his wife looked very sick; clearly she was not getting enough food. Once he realized that his was very sick and she looked like she was not going to make he went out and looked for a job but, soon he was back not working and eating up his family’s food. The different things that Dawid’s father did showed that he was confused and not in his write state of mind. He really did not know what to do, he did not know weather he was coming or going. Soon after his father was injured, he died I believe he gave up the will to live.
There are three things people can take out of reading The Diary of Dawid Sierakowiak is that Dawid father is a mean selfish person or he is overwhelmed and stressed out with the living conditions he and his love one are living in. The facts are that Mr. Sierakowiak was taking food from his family (Sierakowiak pg95). He caused a lot of conflict between him and his son and was not supportive at all. I came to the conclusion that his father was depressed do to his irrational behaviors he displayed towards the one he loved. Sometimes he tried to do the right things by working then he was right back to not working and eating all the food again. Mr. Sierakowiak and his son traded places because his son became the provider. Dawid’s father was very uncompromising and seemed like he was the child rebelling against a parent. My conclusion is that Dawid’s father went crazy.

Worked Cited
The Diary of Dawid Sierakowiak 1996

Posted by: Melisa Parsons at March 26, 2007 07:27 PM

Professor Hobbs,

Here is my new revised copy of my DDS paper.

Erin Knisley
Instructor Lee Hobbs
ENGL 121.003 Humanities Literature
18 March 2007
A Spark of Light
At some point in life, a thick veil melts like liquid plaster, solid and heavy, over individual consciousness as it slowly disintegrates all light and hope. To some this veil may come as ‘lightly’ as a friend’s deception or heavily as a sudden, horrendous and life-altering change. Men, women, German, Pole—to darkness, differences between cultures and peoples mean nothing. Dawid was no exception. In his Diary of Dawid Sierakowiak, life in the World War II German occupied Poland was unraveled before the reader as a series of increasingly devastating events and deepening darkness. No darkness, however, is completely without the tiniest pinprick of light. Therefore, even in Dawid’s journey of misery, there came a brightening light. Though Dawid seemed unattached to females in general (even toward his sister there was a certain level of indifference), his faith in women was restored by his mother. She was undoubtedly his shining light, the candle that fought against the stark darkness the German occupation built around him. Dawid spoke lovingly and devotedly about his mother as he presented her in a shining light. He held her in high esteem despite her womanhood, proved her time and time again to be the only female worthy of his esteem, and admitted how she was his soothing presence. Each characteristic was individual to this woman alone. Dawid perceived her as not a typical woman (the crying housewife) but as a model to be emulated.
Dawid spoke of his mother reverently. She was a being, not a woman, for whom he showed great respect. Of other women Dawid returned to his usual sarcastic wit, making one comment of “I went to Mrs. Perec’s to find out about the tutoring, but she wasn’t home. The ‘lady’ apparently forgot” (Sierakowiak 54) with the intention of the word ‘lady’ to sound as something one discovered caked on the bottom of one’s shoe. When Dawid spoke of his Mother, this disdain towards women was non-existent; instead there was love and respect. In one such show of caring, Dawid wrote “I’m more and more saddened by Mom’s appearance. The long distance to work has withered her completely” (Sierakowiak 195). If Dawid did not respect his Mother as he did, he would have referred to her in the same way he did his sister. There would be no worrying care in his tone.
Both his Mother and sister gave shares of their bread rations to Father, but when Mother did it Dawid remained silent, when Nadzia (his sister) gave away her bread, Dawid angrily wrote “Stupid girl” (Sierakowiak 177). Nadzia did not hold the place of respect in Dawid’s life that Dawid’s Mother held. Dawid’s respect for his mother showed itself in other ways as well. When Father and Dawid were arguing, Dawid’s Mother asked Dawid to stop and make peace (of at least some sort) with his father and Dawid agreed. Later he recalled in his diary, “but at Mom’s request…I finally decided to forget the whole thing” (Sierakowiak 151). Had his Father requested the apology, Dawid would have bitterly walked away to drabble in spite. Only Dawid’s mother commanded respect from him. She alone represented womankind in his eyes. All other women were hard pressed to come close to touching his Mother’s pedestal. Even his sister never reached the pinnacle of respect his Mother tread upon in her daily life.
Besides the ultimate respect Dawid held for his Mother, Dawid also displayed a fond caring towards her in his writings. Mother was the only one that ever received his devoted love. This absolute loyalty was emphatically at its most crystalline transparency when Dawid’s Mother was taken away. Dawid exclaimed angrily “My most Sacred, beloved, worn-out, blessed, cherished Mother has fallen victim to the Nazi beast!!!” (Sierakowiak 218). Dawid was furious, in a rage that the Germans dared to take his mother. Dawid use of the term “Sacred”! solidified the elevation of Mother from a normal woman (women on this level seemed to gain only indifference from Dawid, or sarcastic remarks) to a goddess of light glittering in the gathering darkness which cloaked Dawid’s life. For the same event, Dawid continued to bestow praises upon his Mother, “my unfortunate dearest mother” (Sierakowiak 218), as the terror of the situation gripped him. Had he lost his Father in similar fashion, Dawid would not have been half as distressed. In truth, he would have felt something akin to devious pleasure. Instead, Dawid was forced to a distraught state. “I swear on this human life that’s holy to me that if I only knew that my mother wouldn’t have to die, that she’d survive the war despite the deportation, I could accept what has happened” (Sierakowiak 219). Dawid swore on his life for knowledge of his Mother’s wellbeing. This did not seem an action of an uncaring boy, but of a dedicated son. He was losing the only person he seemed to have deeply loved. Fear rattled him at this sudden and unreasonable seizure of his “dearest mother”. With her departure, Dawid’s outlook on women becomes more stark—the indifference rearing its head more clearly. As a parting remark to the incident, Dawid consoled himself softly with the thought that “even the greatest rainfall can’t wash away a completely broken heart, and nothing will fill up the emptiness of the soul, brain, mind, and heart that is created by the loss of one’s most beloved person” (Sierakowiak 226).
When Dawid lost his “beloved person” he lost a part of himself as well. His hope wafted away more quickly for gone was the resilient wall which shielded him from the harshest of the oppressive winds. His soothing presence was gone. Dawid was left with “such shudders and heart palpitations […] that it seems to me I’m going insane or delirious” (Sierakowiak 226). New strains and tensions were forced upon Dawid now that the integral balance of his life was stolen from him. Left in its place were the responsibilities of gaining income, caring for his sister, the upkeep of the home; everything which gradually slipped into nothingness as his own ‘deportation’ from life drew closer. The last months of his life lost most of their joy, returned to mindless drudgery and familial problems at home all due to the loss of Dawid’s center of balance—his Mother. Only one record of where his Mother came to him for support survived, the day that “Mom threw herself at me, crying” (Sierakowiak 155). This event was the cause of the fear of being taken from her family without hope of return. However, never again did she show such an emotion. She was the strong, silent sufferer. She was his stabilizing rock. Mother was the one he relied upon, not the other way around. When the doctors and their escorts came to Dawid’s apartment and took Dawid’s Mother rudely away, with no reasonable explanation, she responded with a calm Dawid could not comprehend. With “complete presence of mind […] she spoke to us about her fate” (Sierakowiak 219-220). There was no doubt Mother was extremely nervous, however, she put on a brave front for her family when all their emotions were wracked with fear. Dawid commented further:
“When I told her that she had given her life by lending and giving away provisions…she
admitted it with such a bitter smile that I could see she didn’t mind her conduct at all, and,
although she loved her life so greatly, for her there are values even more important than
life, like God, family, etc” (Sierakowiak 220).
Mother did not have a fear of dying that surpassed her need to keep her family safe. Thus, she proved her strength of character and further emphasized why Dawid held her in such high esteem. Though the world tumbled in around Dawid after his Mother is taken, he maintained at least some of the strength she left behind, having left her mark upon him for all time; his “blessed, beloved, unforgotten in any moment of the day or night mother!” (Sierakowiak 247).
Women, as a whole, had no effect upon Dawid. They seemed to disinterest him, and he either responded with indifference or sarcastic commentary. However, it cannot be said that no woman had an effect upon Dawid. Dawid’s Mother was the only female in Dawid’s life worthy of his respect. To her, he showed love and devotion. She was his soothing, calming, stable presence; the candle flickering in the darkness which lead him along the path and provided a comforting presence only a light in pitch darkness can give. When the light was huffed out by the winds of German oppression, the one relying upon the glowing light was quickly lost to the suffocating and ever present shadow of melancholic despair. Dawid lost the one person he cared the most for and thus lost himself. Women were nothing, one woman was everything. Trusted, loved, blessed, sacred—Mother.

Works Cited

Sierakowiak, Dawid. The Diary of Dawid Sierakowiak; Five Notebooks from the Lodz Ghetto.
Ed. Alan Adelson. Trans. Kamil Turowski. New York: Oxford U.P, 1996.

Posted by: Erin K. at March 26, 2007 08:26 PM

Bettina Herold
Instructor Lee Hobbs
ENGL 121.003 Humanities Literature
19 March 2007
Change for the Better
Growing up, my grandmother lived with my family and basically raised me. From when I was a baby until about fourteen years old, she took on the motherly role and tended to me since both of my parents worked full time. My grandmother would cook for me, brush my hair, take care of me when I was sick, etc. However, when she passed away, I was rather lost at first without her guidance and support. Eventually, I learned to be my own person and to do everything for myself. I still pay tribute to her for all my good mannerisms and habits that she taught me during out time together. I think that many people can relate to this memory and can recall someone who once cared for them and showed them the skills of life. Still, inevitably, everyone also loses someone important to them and must learn how to cope in times of hardship. In The Diary of Dawid Sierakowiak, Dawid went through one of these self journeys as he experienced the war and the affects it had on his family. During these hard times and struggles, Dawid lost important people and learned to move on by himself. As a result of the happenings of the war, Dawid’s personality went through dramatic changes as his respect for his father diminished, his responsibility towards his family grew, and his personal motivation to push through increased.
Once Dawid’s father become unemployed, the family and its tight unity started to unravel. We see as Dawid starts to lose respect for his father as food starts disappearing and selfishness on his father’s part begins to arise. This is a defning feature to Dawid’s experience since such a change affected not only Dawid, but the rest of the family both physically and emotionally. Dawid and his family begin to see his father as a greedy man who cannot control himself. The tension rises quickly as food is in short supply and the greediness of his father is causing the rest of the family to whither away without nutrition. In the section “We Live in Constant Fear,” Dawid notes that his father has, “taken to stealing from us and harassing us, as though that will help him (177). It is at this point that Dawid’s father has gone out of his mind and become so out of control he cannot stop himself from hurting his family. This is quite ironic as usually it is the father who provides for his family and makes sacrifices to see his wife and children are healthy before himself.
From the shock of the hard times resulting from the war, Dawid beings to realize his duty to become the support his family is in desperate need of. Since his father was becoming rather useless, Dawid had no choice but to step up to the plate and become the man of the house. Dawid strives to help his mother and protect his sister as best he can. Sometimes, children can grow up too fast when they are put in a predicament like this. This is true of Dawid and his sister, who take on the roles their parents once fulfilled for them. In “The Never Ending Hunger” section, Dawid writes that since both his parents work all day, “Housekeeping falls on Nadzia’s shoulders; she takes care of all the food lines, cleaning, etc.” (94). Since Dawid’s father lost employment, his mother had to work harder and longer to try to support her family. The family struggles through as each member has to work harder to support the others. Dawid also had to work to support them with the little money he was paid for tutoring. This left Nadia, his younger sister, to take care of the house all day. Dawid sees this struggle for his sister and does what he can to give her nourishment or help whenever possible.
In spite of the hardships, Dawid takes the situation, to be a motivation, to do more with his life. He aggressively tries to become more optimistic and to encourage others to keep their heads up as well. In times of hardship such as death, divorce, war, argument etc., families often fall apart before they fall together. Even the strongest and most intellectual people can fall to pieces when put under pressure. Dawid, on the other hand, had the courage and the motivation to take the situation of the war as a chance to mature and learn about him self and society. Even though Dawid’s family members were hard stuck by the effects of the war and the Nazi’s rule, he became the reliant rock they could trust to keep them calm and clear minded. As he watched his mother become severely stressed out and his father lose all sense, Dawid was able to keep a level mind and a good attitude to encourage his surrounding family to follow his lead.
The war was a time that brought out many emotions in Dawid. The effects on his personal life as well as interaction with his family were clearly affected. As unemployment burdened his family, Dawid underwent a journey of change in his relationship with his family members, himself, and fate. As the story carries on and finishes out, it is surprising to see how positive he kept in spit4e of the obstacles that faced him everyday. Many children rely on their parents for financial support as well as emotional support. When parents are not able to provide for them, some children may become lost and fall into the cracks of despair. Dawid was able to miraculously rise above his oppression and to quickly become an adult during a very serious time in history.
Work Cited
Sierakowiak, Dawid. The Diary of Dawid Sierakowiak, Oxford, NY. Oxford University Press, 1996.

Posted by: Bettina Herold at March 26, 2007 08:39 PM

Jenny Troutman
Instructor Lee Hobbs
ENGL 121.003 Humanities Literature
28 March 2007
Rumkowski: Good guy or bad guy?
As a community leader of a town, city, or even a ghetto, strong characteristics are good to have because of having people looking up to you. As well, the community leader needs to serve, protect, and help their people. During the Holocaust, Rumkowski was the Ghetto’s Leader which means he had to follow every command from anyone higher than himself. Rumkowski served his people but he never got enough credit from the ghetto from where he was from. Jews thought he never protected his people as he promised. Dawid calls him a “sadist-moron,” (Sierakowiak 11). Many people from the ghetto perceived Rumkowski as a “bad person” to them because he would use his police force to take children away from the parents and the elderly were taken away too. Dawid heard one of Rumkowski’s speeches one day in which Rumkowski stated, “The sacrifice of the children and the elderly is necessary,” that “nothing could be done to prevent it,” (Sierakowiak 217). Just by hearing him say that, to me, I would not like to see my community or town run by that kind of man. Rumkowski was showing the Jews, that he is trying to do his job as a leader. But in the eyes of the Jews, he showed that he was a bad person, and he wanted the children and elderly to go into the force camps to sacrifice their lives.
By reading about Rumkowski, it seem that he did have hopes and dreams as any other community leader in the ghetto would, but never really showed it in his character. As well, it did seem that Rumkowski wanted this dreadful Holocaust to end, but he couldn’t say anything about it. Also, he seems helpless by not helping his community, he had to go against them and do what he was told by the German soldiers. Rumkowski could have been killed if he would ever save them or hide them from those soldiers. His personality was really hard to describe because he felt like a cold hearted man. If he really didn’t have to send all those young children and elderly out to work camps, death camps, etc. Rumkowski could have been a better person and the Jews probably would have trusted him. Trust was also a main key that community leaders need to do for their people. Rumkowski’s role in the community was just being there for the people; help them get the food that they needed and guide them to safety when needed.
By reading The Diary of Dawid Sierakowiak showed me that Rumkowski was a helpful man, but when it comes in need where he was controlled by German soldiers, he had to change his reaction and be against the Jews. Rumkowski wanted to help them as much as possible, but he knew what they would do to make him suffer the consequences. The officers and soldiers could have killed Rumkowski if they have seen him disobeying their rules and disobeying the laws that they laid down. I think that Dawid did see Rumkowski as a bad guy but then later found a good person inside of him. Even though Dawid didn’t like the way he treated the Jews like they were different and they all deserve to die. If Rumkowski would have stood up for what he believed in and stood up to he officers or even Hitler, there would have been a few more survivors from the Holocaust and they could live an easier life. As seeing Rumkowski as a community leader, I don’t believe that he succeeds on many things, but he did fail the people who were willing to trust him. By reading of Rumkowski, I thought he would be like a hero to all the people from the ghetto but it does turn out the he was the complete opposite. I compare him to Benedict Arnold, because he seemed like a good guy, but he turned his back on many of his people and the Jews lost respect for him. Since many of his people lost respect of Rumkowski, the question still remains.
If he could have helped those children and the elderly, could he have been recognized as a hero to the Jews? Rumkowski did many mistakes sending the children and elderly to concentration camps, but it seems like it hurt Rumkowski physically and mentally. If he would have stood up for what he believed in, then there would probably be Jews living till this day. But if Rumkowski did stand up to the German soldiers, there would have been a possibility that he could have died with the other Jews and got someone else to do the job. The question remains unknown because no one would ever know what that man went through in his life, and as his life goes on, he probably remains in guilt and less powerful for all that he has done.

Work Cited
Sierakowiak, Dawid. The Diary of Dawid Sierakowiak. Ed. Adelson, Alan. New York: Oxford University Press, 1996.

Posted by: Jenny Troutman at March 26, 2007 10:18 PM

Lyndsay Krall
Instructor Lee Hobbs
ENGL 121 Humanities Literature
9 March 2007
What Would You Do?
For reading response number two, the topic I have chosen to focus on from the story The Diary of Dawid Sierakowiak is Topic # 6. I felt that of all the choices, this was the topic that I could relate to the most because it asks for the writer’s thoughts and opinions on how I feel that I would respond should I find myself in someone like Dawid’s situation. I will be discussing how the transition from a time of peace to a time of war affects an entire community. Along with my friends, I might respond in a similar way to Dawid, should this be our country invaded and occupied by foreign soldiers.
The narrative of The Diary of Dawid Sierakowiak moves from a time of peace to war. I would characterize the different reactions in the community to the invasion by the portrayal presented by the notebooks, in which one of the first and main reactions could be described as disbelief. The community found themselves in a state of shock to find out that something like this could actually happen to them. It was stated, “God, what’s going on! Panic, mass exodus, defeatism” (34). Another reaction that the community felt was the emotion of fear. It was stated that people ran from one place to another, finding no comfort; they move their worn bits of furniture around in terror and confusion, without any real purpose (34). This was highly likely to be considered the scariest thing that any of these people have ever experienced in their lives. One of the biggest reactions that the community also felt towards the invasion was the feeling of disparity and helplessness. To feel that everything that they have ever worked hard for was just taken away right in front of them. These people were stripped of everything that meant anything to them, and the worst part was that nothing could be done about it.
For the children of the community, this situation was viewed as a very upsetting, frightening, and very confusing stage in their lives. This made the young children of the community feel hopeless, as if there were nothing good to look forward to in their lives anymore. For example, the children are told that they can no longer attend school because of who they are and of their current situation. School begins to deteriorate for the young Jewish children of the community. There are no teachers or classes and everything is vanishing right before their eyes (69). On Wednesday, December 13 Dawid was officially no longer allowed out to school that day (70). This made the children feel as though things would never get better, and that nothing but devastating news would come their way. If I were to find my country invaded by soldiers, I would have the same reaction that Dawid’s community had. I would be in such a state of disbelief that I would feel as though I was just in a bad dream that I could not wake up from. I would never have thought that anything this like could ever happen to me. I would be completely overwhelmed with emotions and I honestly would not know how to react. I would be terrified, and not only of what was going to happen to me, but I would be scared for my family’s sake as well. Although I would be terrified, I believe that on top of it all, I would feel angry. I would feel angry towards the horrible men that were doing this to my community, that all of the hard work that was ever done was for nothing and that this situation could ever actually present itself.
In conclusion, the story The Diary of Dawid Sierakowiak has truly opened my eyes to the harsh world that surrounds us. This book has made me realize that not all people are as fortunate as others, and that life is not always so beautiful. I consider myself lucky to live in the country that I do, a country that symbolizes freedom and equality for all.

Work Cited
Sierakowiak, Dawid. The Diary of Dawid Sierakowiak. Ed. Alan Adelson. New York: Oxford
University Press, 1996.

Posted by: Lyndsay Krall at March 27, 2007 12:22 PM

Tatiana S. Mack
Instructor Lee Hobbs
ENGL 121.003 Humanities Literature
21 March 2007
When All Hope Is Gone
Whenever people choose to have children, they should consider the fact that things are not about them anymore. They now have to sacrifice things that they once enjoyed for the sake of their children. Children are dependents, which means a person relies on another for support. Support does not just mean cheering a child on in a football game, it means to feed them when their hungry, to bathe them when their dirty, and to buy them essentials that they need. Being a good supporter builds confidence, as well as trust in a child. Many children were fortunate enough to have strong supporters in their lives, which in turn, made them strong supporters as well. Unfortunately, Dawid's father, Majlech, was not as strong as he needed to be for his family, and clearly, all hope was gone.
Dawid and his family were a traditional family. The working father, the stay at home mother, the eldest son, and the young daughter. The family depended a lot on Majlech because he was the only source of income. However, his income was only enough to buy what the family needed most, food (52). He would bring food home for the family (28), and give money to Dawid's mother to buy bread (29). When Majlech's job was not paying him, he did what he could do for money. He attempted to sell their furniture just so rent could get paid (66).
Before the Germany took over Poland, Majlech was already showing signs of weakness. When there was just talk about Germany taking over Lodz, his father was “losing his head; he didn't know what to do.”(34). Should he stay in the Lodz, or leave the Lodz. However, Majlech did what was a comfort for him, and what he thought was the best for his family: he registered for the military “serving in it will reduce his anxiety and restore his sense of stability” (36). Nevertheless, he still had uncertainty not knowing what he should do. “Several times father wanted to go with them at first, but then got hold of himself and stayed” (66).
Approximately three years after Lodz was taken over, Majlech showed signs that he had given up, and was only thinking about himself (230). After Majlech was incarcerated, he had no job which means no income. Maljech even decided to lay in his “lice” for days, not motivated enough to wash, or recover (231). Dawid seemed very annoyed and irritated with his father (230). The man that he once depended on, is not doing anything to help his family. Since Dawid was the only one with a steady income, it can be said that he felt there was a role reversal. With the help of his sister Nadzia, or Natalie, and absolutely no help from his father, Dawid was able to provide for his family. Obviously, Dawid lost a lot of respect for his father. This lead to many arguments between the two. “I had a fierce argument over rations with father... I told him everything I think of him and why I hate him” (230). This affected day-to-day life a great deal. Dawid was forced to go to work everyday to get his rations so his father and sister can eat. It affected Dawid so much, that he rarely wanted to be home. “The office has become a paradise for me; each time I come home from work, I am filled with fear and disgust” (231).
We are put in situations for a reason. These situations are tests that we either pass or fail. Maljech was clearly not able to handle the situations that he had to undergo. Also, he was not willing to make ultimate sacrifices for his wife and kids. For example, when his wife was in a healthy state, and the German officers still chose to take her away, “he didn't run out anywhere in the city; he didn't go to any friends' connections to ask for protection. In a word, he was glad to be rid of a wife with whom life had been becoming harder and harder, thus pushing Mom into her grave” (219). Many times, people forget what is important to them and only look out for themselves. All in all, this is what happens when all hope is gone.

Work Cited
Sierakowiak, Dawid. The Diary of Dawid Sierakowiak: Five Notebooks from the Lodz Ghetto. 1939-43. Ed. Alan Adelson. Trans. Kamil Turowski. New York: Oxford UP, 1998.

Posted by: Tatiana S. Mack at March 27, 2007 01:22 PM

Jennifer L. Naugle
Instructor Lee Hobbs
English 121.003 Humanities Lit
5 March 2007
A Laugh Amid All the Unhappiness
Authors of fiction often create characters through a combination of actions, speeches, behaviors, and descriptions. There are various ways to depict a fictive character’s personality. In non-fiction stories, such as The Diary of Dawid Sierakowiak, by Dawid Sierakowiak and edited by Alan Adelson, Dawid’s character traits are expressed through his own thoughts and experiences. To learn about Dawid Sierakowiak’s personality, it is important to interpret what he writes in his journals and to decipher his ideals on life. Dawid is an extraordinary individual because even though he spent four very difficult years in the Lodz ghetto, he still fully expressed his optimistic and loving character in his journals.
“Long live humor; down with hysteria” (Sierakowiak 32)! Dawid’s most prominent character trait was his sense of humor. In the beginning journal entries, Dawid almost always found something positive to write about the day, even if it was just the weather. On certain days, especially in the later journals, David’s optimism was challenged greatly. On Saturday, August 2nd 1942, Dawid wrote, “August is beginning with nice warm days, but it won’t be for long. It would be too good if the sun were shining for us” (Sierakowiak 201). Dawid’s mood was mostly affected by the day’s rations and political affairs. “The situation in the ghetto has improved recently in certain respects. The food allocations are substantial, and if you just have a job and money to buy your rations, you can eat more than during the winter”, wrote Dawid on May 1st, 1941 (Sierakowiak 85). It is astonishing that Dawid was able to be positive at all, because often times, starvation alone can cause a person to feel irritable and negative. It is still surprising that Dawid was able to find humor or happiness in anything, considering all the negativity surrounding him in the ghetto.
In Writing About Literature by Edgar V. Roberts, a round character is described as “…three-dimensional, rounded, authentic, memorable, original, and true to life” (68). Dawid represented all of these qualities. Dawid was a very mature teenager. He was intelligent and always eager to learn. It is also evident that Dawid was responsible and self disciplined because he tutored others and found many other jobs completely on his own. Many teenagers depend on their parents for money and stability. Dawid’s family life became less and less stable as life in the ghetto progressed. Dawid’s father was selfish with his food rations, and even went as low as stealing from his own children. On Sunday, June 21st 1942, Dawid discussed how his mother did not receive food rations because she did have any food coupons yet. Dawid wrote, “Father insisted on weighing out his portion of sugar and butter, but Nadzia and I shared ours with Mom” (Sierakowiak 188). Dawid was an excellent observer, he realized that he had a much more stable mindset than his father, and Dawid became the dominant man in the household. While Dawid’s father worked to provide food for himself, Dawid worked and tutored so that he could provide the money for rations for the whole family.
Dawid’s optimism provided him with hope for the war to end, for food rations to be better, and for his family to survive. The Lodz ghetto was full of starvation, death, and poverty. Without hope, Dawid probably would have given up like many others. His witty and intelligent personality, strong will to survive, and compassion towards others made Dawid an original and inspirational character.

Works Cited

Sierakowiak, Dawid. The Diary of Dawid Sierakowiak: Five Notebooks from the Lodz Ghetto. 1939-43. Ed. Alan Adelson. Trans. Kamil Turowski. New York: Oxford UP, 1998.

Roberts, Edgar V. Writing About Literature. 2006. Brief 11th Edition. New Jersey: Pearson Prentice Hall, 2006.

Posted by: Jen Naugle at March 27, 2007 03:50 PM

Professor Hobbs,

Dawid Sierakowiak’s Place in History

“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” (Sierakowiak 3). So begins the text of The Diary of Dawid Sierakowiak and from this point on it is assumed that the reader knows about the events leading up to and almost to the end of the Second World War and Nazi Germany’s dishonorable subjugation of the Jewish nation. As Dawid’s journals progress, only glimpses of what is going on outside of the Lodz ghetto trickle into the lower classes, of which Dawid has membership. He hears much of the German propaganda, but very little of what the Russians, English, or French are doing and it makes for a less fulfilling, but maybe more personal journey when the reader knows only what Dawid knows. By taking a few major themes from the book, I hope to illustrate the importance the text has in the chronicles of history and also the positive impact a healthy knowledge of history has when reading a text like The Diary of Dawid Sierakowiak.

Without the knowledge of modern history it would be difficult to put the horrifying hunger, consternation, and trepidation that Dawid experienced into perspective; it might even be tough to believe that it is, in fact, non-fiction. A normal person growing up in an affluent state without a basic knowledge of modern history might be at a major loss after reading the text; they probably wouldn’t understand what it is like to live in an impoverished part of the world, or how physically and mentally debilitating starvation is. Also, without ever hearing of the Nazi party’s rise to power in the late 1920’s and early 1930’s and what sort of positions they took, including the way that they suppressed and ultimately destroyed all political opposition (including communists, trade unions, etc.) using various “storm trooper” type groups, the fascist, single party political system that was modeled after Benito Mussolini’s Italy, and the clear disregard for all non-Aryan states, they might not be able to fully grasp what was happening to Dawid, his family, and the rest of the European Jews.

A main theme in the text is hunger. In order to keep their captives weak and unable to properly resist but also strong enough to work, the Nazis issued irregular rations of vegetables, meats, fuel, etc. With a firm background in basic history the reader should be able to pick up on this, finding similarities in how the ancient Egyptians treated the Jews prior to the Exodus, or how the Romans typically treated large groups of prisoners. Still, certain aspects of the text might be difficult to follow: though Poland was a poor country, why didn’t they have enough food? Why didn’t Jews in the Lodz ghetto follow the example of the Warsaw ghetto and develop a system to smuggle items in from the outside (Sierakowiak 123)? The idea to smuggle food was probably floated around Lodz, but was never acted upon most likely because of better organization on the part of the Lodz ghetto administration; also Dawid’s mother’s cousin, visiting from Warsaw, related the activities to them, so at that point in August of 1941 they had the idea. However, there is another issue and a major detail that helps answer the question of why they didn’t have a larger black market, but it can’t be gleaned from the journals: the city of Warsaw had an extensive underground sewer system, and many house to house tunnels that could have been and were used for smuggling activities (Uprising).

At the same time, the Nazi propaganda machine lead by Joseph Goebbels was a prime apparatus that helped its party get into power and also to control those people it had power over. One of its prime duties was to distribute newspapers to conquered territories; these papers were not so much news as they were platforms for misinformation: in order to bolster pro-Nazi subjects and discourage anti-Nazi subjects. Not all German newspapers were like this however, some reported actual news, albeit with a pro-German spin. Also, some of the better off Jews and subversive elements had radios that would pick up BBC broadcasts (Sierakowiak 207-209, 211,229). This is also a tactic that has been used in the past by states to keep the possibility of revolt and rebellion in check; if the only type of communication between isolated groups comes through a regularly printed newspaper or weekly radio address and the conqueror is able to disrupt this, then the two groups can’t coordinate attacks or send other types of messages.

On the other hand, there are many things that a text like this adds to the canon of historical World War II materials. Titles like The Longest Day by Cornelius Ryan and Stalingrad by Antony Beevor give an account of troop movements, strategy, and tactics used by infantry and tank squads. However, books like The Diary of Dawid Sierakowiak and The Diary of Anne Frank detail the daily struggle of one of the millions of victims, especially in the case of Dawid’s journal. The reader is able to see how a very intelligent and astute mind deals with being a captive, being persecuted, and handles almost certain death. These titles illustrate a more “human” aspect of war: instead of divisions and army groups maneuvering and engaging in combat, a single person relates what happened to them, how they felt, and ultimately how they reacted to the situation they were placed in. The fact that Dawid was inside looking out gives the student of history an excellent opportunity to learn about what it was like on the receiving end of the various states’ actions.

The principal reason to study history is so that we as a species don’t continue to repeat past mistakes, to be able to analyze the events as they happened to determine where the vital mistake(s) were made and apply that knowledge to current or future conflict. Within the historical context of World War II, Dawid’s story serves to give the reader a picture of what the actions and inactions of states can bring about. A simple way of looking at it is that the experiences captured on the pages is incentive to build a strong knowledge of history so that other folks don’t have to experience what Dawid experienced. The story of Dawid Sierakowiak is one that needs to be told; without this text and others like it, we might lose sight of why we study history in the first place.

Works Cited

Beevor, Antony. Stalingrad. Copyright: Antony Beevor and Artemis Cooper, 1998. United States of America: Viking Penguin/Penguin Putnam, 1998-99

Sierakowiak, Dawid. The Diary of Dawid Sierakowiak. Alan Adelson, ed. Kamil Turowski, translator. Copyright: Jewish Heritage Project and Kamil Turowski, 1996. New York: Oxford University Press, 1998.

Uprising. Dir. Jon Avnet. Writ. Paul Brickman and Jon Avnet. TV. Air Date: 4 November 2001. 177 minutes.

Best Regards,

Justin Bleggi

Posted by: Justin Bleggi at March 27, 2007 04:37 PM

Lorin Gdula
Professor Lee Hobbs
ENGL 121.003 Humanities Literature
19 March 2007
The Neighbor That Never Cared
Love and treat your neighbor as you would love to be treated yourself; the familiar phrase common to most people but not acted upon. Neighbors can become someone’s greatest friend or worst enemy. Usually when the word neighbor is brought up, it is either that good friend that lives close, or it is the strange neighbor that you seldom ever see, or the competitive neighbor who is always trying to have the best lawn. But, no matter what type of person the neighbor is, a bond is usually formed between neighbors and you expect certain things from them.
In The Diary of Dawid Sierakowiak, this phrase did not seem to faze anyone. For living in the ghetto was not a simple, trouble-free life. It was viewed as more of a survival of the fittest, where the minuscule towns that Dawid once grew up in were demolished and turned into ghettos for the Jews. There was a time where the people did get along with each other, until the war started and things took a plunge for the worse and it seemed to be that everyone now was on their own. There used to be communication between the families and their neighbors and then every horrible thing that anyone could possibly imagine happened at once and just kept snowballing from there. No one can blame these people for the way they acted, it was common nature to operate their lives around what was going on in the world and how society was acting towards this situation; anyone, today, would have reacted the same way that these people did.
Even though Dawid was young, he was still so intelligent for his age. Always talking about politics, he kept up with what was taking place in his surroundings. There was never a lot of talk about their surrounding in the ghetto until their situation grew worse. Before Dawid’s neighbors are even introduced in his diary, he writes about how his neighbors have been called out to fight and how Dawid really does not yet understand what is exactly going on (Sierakowiak 27). At first, there is not much communication between Dawid and his neighbors; instead Dawid does a lot of listening to retain his information on his own. Even before gathering information from his neighbors, Dawid would listen to the radio bulletins to receive information about how England declared war on Germany and at that instant everyone rushed out to rejoice with each other to share the immense news. But, other than those little outbursts between each other, Dawid and his “neighbors” really never associated with each other.
Mr. Grabinski is introduced early in the story as one of Dawid’s neighbors. Dawid writes as if this was the first time to ever meet Mr. Grabinski, which is odd for Dawid, being about fifteen years old to not know about his neighbors at this point in his life, especially with what has been going on in the world. Mr. Grabinski tells about how anxiety and panic are taking hold of the people in downtown and how numerous families are picking up and leaving everything they ever had behind. Dawid and Mr. Grabinski have a short and subtle conversation, which is odd if it really was their fist time speaking to each other even if they are neighbors.
Dawid awoke one late, cold night to hear another neighbor, Grodzenski, in loud conversation with is wife. In this hysteria manner, he is yelling to leave and Dawid and his family are just looking at him, not knowing what to think. Terror probably fills the mind of Dawid and others as Grodzenski yells how everyone needs to flee and run away from the danger. Finally, Dawid’s mother goes over to comfort him and tries to get him to calm down while other neighbors gather around and discuss ways to stay away from the enemy so they would not be sent to work camps (Sierakowiak 34). Dawid has to be confused about this whole situation. He is a very smart boy, but to see Mr. Grodzenski act like that had to make him absorb what is really taking place in the world now and wonder if where his family was, was indeed a safe place to be. Obviously this isn’t common for Grodzenski to be doing this; this is not a common thing for your neighbor to be doing. It has to make Dawid feel left out because if he is confused on what is going on then he has to feel that he is being left out of the information about the war and such. As Dawid’s diaries go on, communication between neighbors decrease. There never really was a lot, but as the trauma unfolds and times get worse for the Jews, Dawid’s neighbors are not mentioned as much, for society turns into one immense battle for self survival.
Dawid’s neighbors were out of the ordinary. Dawid’s intelligence makes us forget how young he and his siblings truly are but his neighbors knew his condition and the condition his parents were in and for his neighbors to flee like little school children, to me is inhumane. The behavior of his neighbors is not what anyone would expect. These young kids really do not have a clue what is going on, their mother is dying, and their father is stealing their food; they have to be confused on what to do and it probably doesn’t make matters any better by Dawid seeing his neighbors going insane in the street and then fleeing the ghetto the next. If anything, these neighbors were sending Dawid signals that were not good. Signals that would make him think what he really needed to do was to save himself because they obviously were not going to help him. These diaries show how much it did not matter how close you were with your “neighbors” and “friends”. These people looked at life from a survival of the fittest perspective and that is all there was to it. They felt they needed to look out for themselves and trying to keep track of someone else was just another burden they could not deal with. So Dawid looked at these people not as “neighbors” but as just ordinary, regular people whom he did not expect anything more from.
Work Cited
Sierakowiak, Dawid. The Diary of Dawid Sierakowiak. New York: Oxford University Press, 1996.

Posted by: Lorin Gdula at March 27, 2007 05:01 PM

Greg Crossland
Dr. Lee Hobbs
English 121.003 Humanities Literature
Friday, March 9, 2007
Star of David: A Symbol of Religion or Oppression?
While the Nazi regime occupied Poland, during World War II, Jews were forced to wear the symbol of their religion. The once beloved sacred symbol of their religion became a signifier of oppression. The Star of David, their symbol, was worn by all Jews during the Holocaust to identify them to their German oppressors. It was similarly used like an inmate tag on a prisoner. Jews from all over Poland were segregated into ghettos, where they were forced to produce goods for the Germans who were imprisoning them. The Nazi motives for keeping them alive is so that “every last bit of material worth would be progressively squeezed out of the living Jews, while their strength and energy would be siphoned into the production of goods to arm the German war effort and to improve the quality of life in the Fatherland” (Sierakowiak 1). Millions of Jews were gassed, starved, shot, hung and burned alive for that identifier. To the Jews, who were forced to wear the Star of David, it must have given them mixed feelings about their hallowed symbol.
The Jews, who were forced to wear their holy symbol, were under severe duress and persecution from the Third Reich. A once sanctified emblem probably now gave Jews in occupied Poland various thoughts and feelings of discouragement and hopelessness. Nazi Germany, lead by fuehrer Adolf Hitler, turned a symbol of Judaism into a representation of cruelty, hunger, torture, and death. Some Jews, who would have once been proud to be associated with the symbol of their religion, are now suffering great horrors at the hands of the Nazis, because of the required yellow star with the word Jude patched onto their clothing. After the horror, that many Jews were living, some probably wished they had never seen the holy star before. The Star of David, which was said to be a shield, no longer protected them.
This blessed symbol, which was an icon of worship and holiness, has now been used to single out the Jews from those with pure Aryan blood, as the Nazi Regime wanted. According to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum website, Adolf Hitler “Spread his beliefs in racial purity and in the superiority of the Germanic race. He pronounced that his race must remain pure in order to one day take over the world” (Gruber).
As a human being, I never want to be singled out from the rest of a group, because it gives me a feeling of loneliness and anxiety. Being labeled leads me to ask myself: What does it mean to be profiled? Will this lead to oppression or an inferior position amongst individuals that I have been associated with? Am I now a lesser person for being profiled? These are some of the questions that the confined Jews would have asked themselves.
As a child, I never wanted to be picked last in gym class, because that singled me out as an unskilled or untalented person in some form of athletics. I can’t even come close to realizing what it would be like to be singled out and persecuted, because of my religion. The Third Reich was on a mission to exterminate Jews from the face of the earth. The operation was released in a secret memorandum, “The final aim must be to burn out entirely this pestilent abcess” (Sierakowiak 1).
It is next to impossible to feel the emotions and thoughts of someone who is going through so much turmoil. An emblem that is so close to a Jew’s heart and mind is now being used against millions like them. An icon of their life and religion is now a symbol for persecution and death. Star of David was once sacred, but during the Holocaust, it became a symbol of hatred and destruction. After the millions of Jews were liberated in World War II, the Star of David had regained its religious symbolic meaning to those who were oppressed and forced to wear the mark of their religion. After declaring independence in 1948, the State of Israel, which is the homeland of Judaism, adopted the Star of David onto its flag. The Star of David has continued to be used as the main symbol of the Jewish religion, which shows the strength of Judaism.

Works Cited
Gruber, Samuel. “Nazi Racism.” United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. United States
Holocaust Memorial Museum Website. 7 March 2007
Sierakowiak, Dawid. The Diary of David Sierakowiak. Ed. Alan Adelson. New York: Oxford
University Press, 1996.

Posted by: Greg Crossland at March 27, 2007 05:04 PM

Stephanie Vrabel
Professor Lee Hobbs
ENGL 121.003 Humanities Literature
5 March 2007
Though some people may not like to admit it, profiling has always been a common theme throughout human existence. The labeling of individuals affects human beings in very dramatic and simple everyday ways. Whether it is through segregating a whole group of people like how Hitler did during the Holocaust, or how an educational system may handle their daily interactions with students, labeling can harm each person’s self confidence and emotional well being.
In the journal, The Diary of Dawid Sierakowiak, the author, Dawid Sierakowiak, describes his life living in a ghetto during the Holocaust. During his story, he mentions that the Germans mandate a law for the Jewish inhabitants of the ghetto to wear the Star of David on their jackets (Sierakowiak 70). This signifies to others that the people who wear this star are Jewish man and women. Though it may not seem like a horrible act to others in the ghetto, it was an act of segregation towards the Jewish people. This act of labeling may have made the Jewish men and women feel as if they are uncared for, and that the person enforcing this law is not interested in getting to know them, their beliefs, or the lives that they live.
During the Holocaust, one of Hitler’s many goals as dictator was to have a society filled with the Aryan race. This race was viewed as superior to all other races. The Aryan race, also called the master race, included humans who were non-Jewish with blonde hair and blue eyes (“Aryan”). In order for Hilter to distinguish between Jews and non-Jews, he decided to slap their religious symbol onto their jacket (Sierakowiak 70). The humans who did not fit the profile of the master race were treated with no respect and as if they were just property to the German soldiers. Segregating these people may cause them to feel depressed, not “normal”, and worthless.
This reminds me of how cows are branded by their owners. Just as Hitler “branded” the Jewish members of the ghetto, a farmer will brand his cows in order to keep track of them. The ironic part of this example is that the Jew’s were important to the Germans just as the cows are important to their farmers. Cows will provide nutrition and money to the farmer, while Jews were made to work themselves to death to provide the Germans financially. The Jewish people during the Holocaust were treated very unfairly, as if their soul purpose was to serve the German soldiers.
I think this can happen in the educational systems, like at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. Anytime I take a test, pay a tuition bill, or want to log onto a university computer, I need to provide my school ID number. This sometimes makes me feel very insignificant, that the school has no interest in my name or the person that I am. I feel that all they are interested in is whether or not I have paid my tuition. This also makes me feel like I am “branded” by IUP. As long as I provide them monetarily, they are satisfied.
If I had lived in the Holocaust, maybe I would have tried to show the German soldiers that I was more than what Hitler made me seem. I would try to talk to the soldiers, and show them that I was a person too and I deserve to live a life just like they do. It is hard to say whether or not this would actually occur. Not only were they probably uninterested in communicating with the Jews, it was most likely a danger even to speak to a soldier.
Overall, labeling is and always will be a common theme that humans experience. This act not only devastates the persons being singled out emotionally, but also mentally. Not only is the human being’s confidence abated, their self worth is as well. Many people may feel that singling out an individual is a horrible act, and that what happened in the holocaust was a devastating event. This is true, yet how much does this stated compassion for human life actually drive our daily acts and thoughts in life? Segregation is present in our daily lives, whether it is through the educational system at a college or university, or the way one may act towards a different belief or race.

Works Cited
“Aryan.” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. 2001. Wikipedia Foundation. 25 Mar 2007

Sierakowiak, Dawid. The Diary of Dawid Sierakowiak: Five Notebooks from the Lodz Ghetto.
1939-43. Ed. Alan Adelson. Trans. Kamil Turowski. New York: Oxford UP, 1998.

Posted by: Stephanie Vrabel at March 27, 2007 05:56 PM

Sheryll Daugherty
Instructor Lee Hobbs
ENGL 121 003
7 March 2007
What Makes Literature
The Diary of Dawid Sierakowiak was written in the twentieth century, by Dawid who was a young boy growing up during the Holocaust. The events in the story are his true and life experiences, and are told in the first person perspective. This makes the essence and impact of the reading stronger. I consider The Diary of Dawid Sierakowiak to be a form of literature. In today’s society we have a presumption that literature has to be fiction, which must contain symbolic meaning in the story’s plot and theme. However, literature has many categories which help define great pieces of work. Literature has four genres which are: prose, fiction, poetry, drama, and nonfiction prose. The Diary of Dawid Sierakowiak would be considered a form of nonfiction literature, which follows all the guidelines for a stories existence.
The Diary of Dawid Sierakowiak would fall under the category of creative nonfiction. This is defined as, “a type of literature that is technically nonfiction, such as essay, articles, diaries, and journal, but which nevertheless introduces carefully structured form, vivid examples, relevant quotation, and highly creative and imaginative insights”(Roberts 4).
The diary of Dawid includes a plot, setting and protagonist and antagonist characters. All of these elements are essential to a piece of literature. For example, the setting of the novel takes place in the ghetto Lodz, where Dawid encounters the hardships and struggles during World Word One. He encounters many antagonist characters that make his struggle through the war difficult.
In this piece of literature, Dawid would be considered the protagnist character. In Dawid’s diary entries readers are able to decipher the antagonist characters. For example, his father deprived his family of food and refused to work. This resulted in a rift in the relationship between Dawid and his father. Dawid was also denied public education and the opportunity to attend school. As a result he went to the principal to receive help, because his education was important to him. Dawid described his encounter with the principal as follows, “…I don’t know whether he always acts like this, but today he behaved really brutally” (Sierakowiak 51).
Pieces of literature always include a lesson gained from life experiences. For example, in Maupassant’s short story, The Necklace, the main character Mathidle learned how to deal with the truth and be happy with whom you are. Sierakowiak learns a lesson from experiences. Among the most important lessons learned through his experiences were surviving the mentality and physical needs of surviving during the harsh struggle of starvation.
The Diary of Dawid Sierakowiak is considered a piece of literature. A collection of diary entries tells a story of someone’s life experience, which includes their thoughts and feelings. Dawid tells us his story in a form of journal entries. However, even though this is not a formal written story, plot, theme, characters and conflicts still arise. The Diary of Dawid Sierakowiak is
written in a different format than what most individuals call “literature”. Although, the diary is considered to be creative nonfiction, which according to Roberts is indeed a form of literature.

Works Cited
Roberts, Edgar V. Writing About Literature. 11th ed. New Jersey: Pearson Prentice Hall. 2006.

Sierakowiak, Dawid. The Diary of Dawid Sierakowiak. Ed. Alan Adelson. Trans. Kamil
Turowski. New York: Oxford University Press, December 1998.

Posted by: Sheryll Daugherty at March 27, 2007 06:59 PM

Kristin Dudra
ENGL 121.003
Professor Hobbs
7 March 2007
Learning from the Life of Dawid Sierakowiak
Dawid grew up in Poland with his mother, father, and sister. He had a very relaxed, good life before the German Nazis came. At the beginning of the story, he is at a summer camp for Jews where he enjoys hiking through the mountains and putting on sketches for his fellow camp mates. Dawid had an enormous hunger for knowledge. He always wanted to learn different languages and learn more about the world and its politics. On the day the Nazis came everything was practically taken away from Dawid. He started to learn that he should not have taken things for granted.
Reading Dawid’s five notebooks gave many people a first-hand look at how Jewish people in the ghettos lived, survived, and even died. Even though Dawid’s story was not quite a happy one, it conveys many messages of intellectual morals. One of the morals in Dawid’s story was one the editor, Alan Adelson, really wanted to convey to the readers. This was that things should not be taken for granted. As I stated before, this was one moral Dawid learned quickly. I think everyone I know, myself included, takes everything for granted. We have all these privileges in life, like cell phones and TV. Sometimes we do not know what we have until we lose it. This was the main moral of the story to me.
Another moral has to do with the importance of family and other relationships. Throughout Dawid’s story he gets a lot of his information and money from other relationships. The key to surviving in the ghetto was one’s connections. Dawid had ways of getting money by helping his peers with school and by getting jobs with the help of a certain acquaintance. His whole family at the beginning did everything they could to help each other survive. Unfortunately the relationship with his father and outside acquaintances were not good or strong enough to keep him and his family alive. But still, they were important and helped him live a lot longer than many of the other Jews.
The message of this is the importance of relationships, group work, to keep one strong, steady, and alive. What is the thing we hear most when we are in a group or on a team? There is no “I” in team. Dawid’s father cheated them out of food among other things. This made the family weaker and sick with disease. Therefore, they did not survive. This also gives us a message of what selfishness can do, especially to ones family and friends. Dawid’s mother was caring and giving, for example, “Mom, she gives away 10 dkg of her bread to Father. He doesn’t know however, how to appreciate it, his attitude toward them [Dawid’s family] is bad and reveals unmitigated egotism, just as it does towards me” (Adelson 95). This example also shows Dawid’s father’s own selfishness towards his family.
Something Dawid’s story really made me think about was that no one ever knows when their last day alive will be. This brings the moral of living each day as if it were the last. I truly believe in this and try to live my life mostly by this one thing. One never knows when their lives can be totally changed by politics or war like Dawid’s life was.

Works Cited
Adelson, Alan. The Diary of Dawid Sierakowiak. New York: Oxford University Press, 1996.

Posted by: Kristin Dudra at March 27, 2007 07:17 PM

Donnetta Allen
Professor Hobbs
ENGL 121.003 College Writing
21 March 2007
Connotation of Symbols
The wearing of a symbol that signifies the belonging to a group can be either positive or negative. The Anti – Defamation League (ADL) introduction on their website says, “Symbols are the most powerful tools that have ever existed … they have the ability to convey so much meaning, intent and significance is such a compact, immediately recognizable form.” Unfortunately, symbols convey negative connotations as well as positive.” Members of gangs such as the Crips and Bloods use symbols with a negative connotation through their use of colored bandanas. If you are a Crip you wear a blue bandana and if you are a Blood you wear a red one. These are negative because they draw negative attention to the belonging group. On the other hand, among the National Pan-Hallenic Council there are certain symbols that each Greek organization wears. Greek organizations are positive groups and among seeing these letters if knowledgeable of them a person will not feel fear. These people are not forced to wear these symbols. The Nazi’s transformed two positive symbols into negative ones, contingent upon the person wearing or seeing them.
The Star of David is on the flag of Israel as well as the symbol of the Jewish people. The Nazi’s forced the Jews during WWII to wear this symbol. During WWII the Nazi controlled Poland and a quick succession of laws compelled Jews to wear the Star of David; Either sown onto their clothing or as a part of a special armband. They had to wear this while appearing in public. The symbol that represented them now branded them as a Jew. Bernard Offen, a holocaust survivor, was forced to wear a yellow star. “As if I was an inferior human being”, was how he described having to wear the yellow star. So at this point in time this star was negative to both the Jews and the Nazi’s. The Nazi Identity group believed that white Europeans, not Jews were the real Biblical, “Chosen People”, that Jews are the people of Satan. The Nazi’s felt hatred when they seen this star and that is why over 6 million Jews were killed.
The Jews oppressor wore the Neo-Nazi symbol. The original symbol which was reversed by Adolf Hitler to spin clockwise is originally known as the Swastika. This symbol was an ancient symbol that represented a sign of good luck. So it is fair to say that Hitler’s version means bad luck. At least that is what it brought to the Jews. People labeled as Nazi’s during this time felt superior. At least in Poland they felt superior. The people ruling the country were under the same label. But to those who were looking at this sign and wearing the star may have felt anger and terror.
That is how the Nazi’s turned two positive symbols into two negative ones. By taking the Star of David and making it a sign that is demoralizing to those who carried it, ultimately makes it similar to the, Scarlet Letter. This is a book where the woman is labeled with an “A” that represents her being an adulterer. She refused to give up the father of the baby so the people of the town battered this woman upon appearance. Exactly how the people wearing the Neo-Nazi symbol treated those wearing the Star of David. As well as transforming a symbol and making it represent a negative supremacy. Forcing someone to deny who they are is so Satan like but people’s purpose in life is to survive. My reaction to being forced to wearing a badge is killing me. There is no way that I will be forced to be labeled. There is a good chance that I will end up dead because I will refuse to conform for survival.

Works Cited
My Hometown Concentration Camp: The Work. Dir. Bernard Offen. Perf. Bernard Offen. DVD. www.Bernardoffen.org, 1999. 23 minutes.
“Using Testimonies for Researching and Teaching about the Holocaust: Historical Background: Jews in Poland.”Dimensions Online, A journal of Holocaust Spring 2003. Vol 17, Number 1.
www.adl.org/ hatesymbols.2007 Anti-Defamation League. March 21, 2007

Posted by: Donnetta Allen at March 27, 2007 08:28 PM

Amber Dunmire
Instructor Lee Hobbs
ENGL 121.003 Humanities Literature
7 March 2007
A World of Change
Changes occur every day. People change, friends change, feelings change, and most of all, the world changes in itself. The Diary of Dawid Sierakowiak shows the changes that happened in Dawid Sierakowiak’s life as he lived and died during the Holocaust. This diary is made up of five notebook diaries that Dawid kept. The notebooks were recovered and translated by Kamil Turowski. They were then edited by Alan Adelson.
We, as people understand that change is inevitable. With this in mind, I don’t think that we will ever possibly understand the type of change that Dawid and his family had to experience during this time period. I could not imagine going to summer camp in June, eating good healthy meals and coming home to much less food. On Friday, August 25th, Dawid states, “Mom went out shopping today, she couldn’t even get rolls; they had been sold out” (Sierakowiak 29). On Friday, September 1st, Germany declared war. War is a major change and adjustment to citizens of a country, especially to the Jewish citizens in this circumstance. I thought Dawid adjusted to the war better than many people. It obviously made him grow up very fast and he was not happy about it, but he knew he had to do it. He did it, and it did not seem like he complained very much about it.
On Thursday, November 30th, “the school has been taken away” (Sierakowiak 66). “The school got moved to 28 Poludniowa St” (Sierakowiak 67). Dawid was very upset by this. School was his chance to get away and do something he enjoyed doing. He was a very intelligent young boy. On December 13th, all of the Jewish families were taken from their normal lives and were placed in either captivity or a ghetto like the Lodz ghetto. The Lodz ghetto was located in central Poland. This was where Dawid and his family were kept. As the Holocaust continued, things proceeded to get worse and worse in the ghetto. Food is few and far between.
Another change that Dawid and his family had to experience was dealing with his father. His father was the bread winner of the family, but when the food got scarce, the little food that they did have would be eaten by the time the family sat down to eat. The whole family knew that the father was eating their food. And then on top of seeing his father eat their food, he saw his own mother die from starvation.
Change will always occur, but the change that these Jewish families had to experience, was one that no one should ever have to go through. Dawid was a strong, intelligent boy, but on August 8th, 1943, starvation and tuberculosis took his life.

Work Cited
Sierakowiak, Dawid. The Diary of Dawid Sierakowiak. New York: Oxford University Press, 1996.

Posted by: Amber Dunmire at March 27, 2007 08:57 PM

Tina Walter
Professor Hobbs
English 121.003
19 March 2007
A Diary’s Message
The Moral/Intellectual approach states that it “helps to determine whether a work conveys a lesson or a message and whether it can help readers lead better lives and improve their understanding of the world” (WAL 182). This approach can be applied to Dawid’s Diaries from The Diary of Dawid Sierakowiak. In the diaries, the reader goes through a day by day account of Dawid’s personal struggle in the Lodz ghetto in Poland, during the World War II Nazi occupation during which Jews were made to endure unspeakable suffering and then exterminated. Although the book only accounts for five journals Dawid had written through the years 1939-1942, the readers are still able to capture the many messages in the diaries that young Dawid wrote, not knowing that the world would soon read them.
One thing that becomes clear to all who read these personal stories of pain is that man is a complicated creature; one capable of rising to great heights, of creating great beauty and displaying great kindness to his fellow human beings. On the other hand, the amount of evil that can exist in a human being in the quest for power and control is staggering. Nothing exemplifies that evil like the stories from that war, and specifically, from the Holocaust. Although thousands of people from different races perished during that war, it was the Jewish people who had suffered the most.
Sierakowiak describes his own hell and that of his family in the polish ghetto. He is placed into this man made hell, where he describes his desperation when he, an intelligent young man looking to the future, must quit school. He sees his life as nothing but an attempt to “survive poverty”, while some of his school friends have not. “ A student from the same grade as ours died from hunger and exhaustion yesterday…he is the third victim in our class” (90). He writes of his emotional despair when his mother is taken ill because he knows she is headed for the concentration camp. “…nothing will fill up the eternal emptiness in the soul, brain, mind, and heart that is created by the loss of ones most loved person” (226). He slowly watches his family fall apart and that is his greatest pain.
It is interesting to note that the diaries were ready to be destroyed just like the many lives that were destroyed. However, as Dawid’s diaries prove, as long as there was life, there was always that hope of survival. Even when Dawid witnessed the walking “cadavers” in the ghetto, when he watched his fellow students die, when he watched the rations of food diminish and then taken by his father, he still hoped. It was only at the end, with his family and his body deteriorating that he finally saw no way out.
What strikes me in reading his diaries is that the human spirit is determined to survive in spite of all odds against it. Morally, we have no right to keep other human beings enslaved in an attempt to gain power and control. Man can attempt to control other human beings, but their minds and the intellects are still free. In his hatred, he can attempt to eradicate a whole race, but it will never happen because others will replace those who died and will remember those crimes. They will make sure that the evil will not rule again. People like Dawid Sierakowiak and Ann Frank may have died, but their works allow their spirit to live on.

Works Cited

Roberts, Edgar V. Writing About Literature-Brief Eleventh Edition. Upper Saddle River, New
Jersey Publisher, 2006.
Sierakowiak, Dawid, The Diary of Dawid Sierakowiak. Five Notebooks from the Lodz Ghetto.
Ed. Alan Adelson, Trans. Kamil Turowski. London: Bloomsbury 1996.

Posted by: Tina W at March 27, 2007 09:40 PM

Katie Kovac
Instructor Lee Hobbs
ENGL 121.003 Humanities Literature
26 March 2007

The Influence of Neighbors
While reading The Diary of Dawid Sierakowiak, I recalled the memories
I have of my neighbors and thought of how they would have reacted had a tragedy such as Dawid's occurred during my lifetime. I had few neighbors and Dawid had many, but I believe that each neighbor's reaction would be very similar if a tragedy such as Dawid's had occurred. My neighbors would have ultimately influence my family, as Dawid's family was influenced by their neighbors.
I grew up in the country where the houses were so far apart your neighbors were an entire farm away. I really only had one set of neighbors, the Hulvers. They were an older couple who lived behind me and were the original owners of my home. They would get my brother and me off the school bus and watch us after school until our parents got home. I can remember sitting on their porch as a little girl with my parents hearing the latest gossip from Mrs. Hulver. Not that I knew what they were talking about, I was only seven or eight. I mostly tagged along to play with their small dog. No tragedy fell upon my family or community like Dawid, but had one happened, the Hulvers would have been there to help and support us. They would give my family the best wisdom they could considering they lived through both world wars and many natural disasters, like tornadoes.
Unlike me, Dawid lived in an apartment building in a small town where his neighbors were literally right next door. He had many neighbors who were always around providing the latest gossip and news. "At home I meet our neighbor Mr. Grabinski, who has come back from downtown and tells about the great panic and anxiety that has taken hold of the people there" (34). Once all of the neighbors have heard of this they gather in Dawid's home to discuss what they will do. They all act as a group in decisions, especially at first. "They don't know what to do. A moment of deliberation, and finally the decision: stay put" (34). Through the use of group decisions they can all look out for the good of the others. Yet, as the conditions get worse the neighbors of Dawid gradually begin to leave. "Grodzenski and his family and the Rabinowiczes are leaving" (64). Most decisions were made as a group, but as the neighbors start to leave on their own Dawid's father becomes influenced by the actions of their neighbors and also decides to leave (65). This goes to show that in times of trouble and hardship actions speak louder than words. Yet, after reading The Diary of Dawid Sierakowiak it is learned that Dawid's family never escaped the ghetto.
If a tragedy like Dawid's would occur where I live, the gossip would travel and my family would hear it through the Hulvers much like Dawid heard it through his neighbors. My family would listen to the advice of the Hulvers and most likely decide to stay put much like Dawid's family did. Then, as times got worse, as in Dawid's situation, the Hulvers may decide to leave or to stay. However, if they decided to leave I am sure my father would take into consideration the thought of leaving.
In conclusion, I find that the actions of the neighbors around us can be very influential on the decisions made by the surrounding families. Neighbors are always the best source of gossip and news in the community. When tragedy falls upon a small community and neighbors begin to flee for their lives, the decisions made by those around them are tested. The question of "should I stay or should I go?" must be answered in order to make the best decision. Neighbors are much like close relatives because their actions could possibly influence the way their other neighbors react to tragedies and disasters.

Work Cited
Sierakowiak, Dawid. The Diary of Dawid Sierakowiak: Five Notebooks from the Lodz Ghetto.
1939-43. Ed. Alan Adelson. Trans. Kamil Turowski. New York: Oxford UP, 1998.

Posted by: Katie Kovac at March 27, 2007 09:51 PM

Dear Professor Hobbs,

Literature or Not?
Literature is defined by many different authors as many different things. There is not one clear cut definition as to what a story must entail to be characterized as literature. Some perceive it as having careful use of language, being classifiable into a genre, having the ability to be read with enjoyment, and containing many weak implications (Meyer 16). On the other hand, it is sometimes classified as a written work that tells a story, expresses emotions, dramatizes situations, and analyzes ideas (Roberts 1). The Diary of Dawid Sierakowiak certainly fits into all of the criteria listed. More specifically the diary falls into a category of literature known as nonfiction prose. Nonfiction prose includes such things as: news reports, feature articles, essays, editorials, textbooks, historical, and biographical works, which all describe facts and provide opinions (Roberts 3). The combination of these works of literature and a description of The Diary of Dawid Sierakowiak includes: a biographical work that tells a story, expresses emotion, and has the ability to be read with a lot of enjoyment.
First, The Diary of Dawid Sierakowiak is a biographical work. In this story Dawid describes his day to day activities. He describes his feelings, the feelings of his family and friends, interactions between people, and fills the reader in on everything that happens to him everyday in his life from June 28, 1939 until April 15, 1943. For example in the book on August 27, 1939 Dawid gives a good biographical example. He explains the he woke up early in the morning and went with his father to dig trenches. It was hard work and he became exhausted and sore from the manual labor. Dawid finally finished his work around noon and was able to go home to rest and get a drink. He also tells about his feelings. Because his sister is on vacation and he has not seen her for awhile, he misses her. This entry includes his feelings, as well as daily occurrences and insight as to what Dawid’s life is currently like.
Secondly, to be classified as literature the work must be able to tell a story (Roberts 1). Obviously, there is a not a single entry in the book that will describe the entire story. However, the story begins with Dawid hiking on a trip with his Boy Scouts group. He is not concerned with the political turmoil at the beginning, because he is preoccupied with many more entertaining things. As the story progresses, Dawid goes through a series of hardships. He is constantly starving, therefore is not often able to think about anything else. As a young boy in this story, he experiences the loss of his mother to a “labor camp,” continuous turmoil with his dad until his death, unbelievable pressure to work and bring in money for the family, and the responsibility of caring for his younger sister when both of his parents are gone. Dawid is therefore able to tell a very moving story and educate every person that reads about his life.
Thirdly, a work of literature must contain emotion (Roberts 1). At the time in Dawid’s life when the story is written he looks up to his mom more than anyone in his life. She is probably the most important person in his life, and he is grateful to everything that she does for him. However, because his mom constantly only looks out for the well being of others she nearly starves to death. She is taken away from the ghetto, because she is so ill. Dawid describes this event with a tremendous amount of emotion. He has heard that his mom is so skinny that she is unrecognizable. He describes his feelings about losing her by saying, “Although there were some thunderstorms and lightening and it even rained in the evening, it didn’t bring any relief to our torment. That’s because even the greatest rainfall can’t wash away a completely broken heart, and nothing will fill up the eternal emptiness in the soul, brain, mind, and heart that is created by the loss of one’s more beloved person (Sierokowiak 226).” Dawid is obviously heart broken about the loss of his mother and could not describe that traumatic event with any more emotion than he did.
Finally, literature must be able to be read with enjoyment. The Diary of Dawid Sierakowiak is enjoyable to anyone who reads it. It is crazy how well written the story is and unbelievable that a child going through so much was able to keep such a detailed journal of these very important occurrences. This diary also has the ability to bring joy to every person who lost someone in the Holocaust, because they know the story is not lost forever. People will be able to learn about the Holocaust forever, because Dawid was able to keep such a detailed journal. It is relieving for everyone who knows about the Holocaust to know that history will not be able to repeat itself, because society will continue to be educated on that historic event due only to people like Dawid.
In conclusion, The Diary of Dawid Sierakowiak is undoubtedly classified as a piece of literature. It matches every criteria listed and more. The book is extremely well written and will continue to educate people on the Holocaust for many years to come.

Works Cited
Sierakowiak, David. The Diary of Dawid Sierakowiak. Adelson, Alan, ed. Trans. Kamil
Turowski. New York: Oxford UP, Inc., 1996.
Meyer, Jim “What is Literature? A Definition Based on Prototypes.” Humanities Literature.
Hobbs, Lee, ed. Dec. 2006 .
Roberts, Edgar V. Writing About Literature. 11th ed. Upper Saddle River: Pearson Prentice Hall,
2006. 1-4.

Thank you,
Jaime Hersh

Posted by: Jaime Hersh at March 27, 2007 09:53 PM

Rebecca Shenkle
Instructor Lee Hobbs
English 121.003 Humanities Literature
26 March 2007

Reading Response # 2:
Life in the Ghetto Today vs. Life in the Ghetto During the Holocaust
The life of someone living in a ghetto today is quite different from Dawid’s experience. Some of the major problems in Dawid’s ghetto were starvation, illness, disease, deportation, and unemployment (Sierakowiak, 139). Although some of these issues are still present in today’s ghettos, they are not the problems that hold the most concern. The problems that hold the most concern in today’s ghettos are poverty, crime, and unemployment.
The word ghetto, according to The New American Webster Handy College Dictionary, means “1, the Jewish quarter in a city. 2, any ethnic quarter. 3, a slum.” This definition came as a big surprise to me. I had no idea that the word ghetto was actually associated with Jews. Today, ghettos are usually associated with minorities and poor people. They are places of poverty, crime, drug dealing, and unemployment. In Dawid’s ghetto those issues were of the least concern. Starvation was probably the biggest issue in his ghetto (Sierakowiak, 141).
From the way Dawid described his ghetto, he made it sound like it was an awful place to live in (Sierakowiak, 141). Dawid and his family were forced to live in this ghetto by the Germans and while they were in it, they had to live by the German’s rules. The ghetto was a confined place in the city where people couldn’t get in or out of it. Today’s ghettos are not really places that people are forced to live in. Although they may not have a choice whether they live there or not, because they probably can’t afford anything better. Also, people are not told what to do while they are living in a ghetto. Today’s ghettos are not as much confined as they were in Dawid’s time. Ghettos now are usually in a big city or close to one. They can be easily driven or walked through. The ghetto is usually not a place people want to be in in either situation. It is a scary part of the city because you never know what will happen in it. There is so much crime committed in the ghetto and no one wants to witness that or be involved in it. I know whenever I drive through this part of town, I lock my doors. That won’t really help me too much if someone comes up to my car with a gun, but it at least makes me feel a little safer.
Although the ghetto has changed somewhat since Dawid’s time, it will always be a place that people do not want to live in because of the crime, poverty, and unemployment. Even though the definition of a ghetto has changed somewhat since the Holocaust, it will probably always have similar issues such as crime, poverty, and unemployment.

Works Cited
“Ghetto.” The New American Webster Handy College Dictionary. 1995.
Sierakowiak, Dawid. The Diary of Dawid Sierakowiak. Ed. Alan Adelson. New York: Oxford University Press, 1996.

Posted by: Rebecca Shenkle at March 27, 2007 10:26 PM

Carlos Gonzalez
Instructor: Lee Hobbs
19 March 2007
Fighting to See Tomorrow
The story of life that The Diaries of Dawid Sierakowiak, expresses is filled with the truth about discrimination due to economic status. The diaries of a young Jewish boy are the perfect example of proletarian literature. In his writings Dawid describes a difference in levels of discrimination, struggle, and social-economic status. Throughout history, there has always been a social ladder that has been determined by economic status.
Ever since man was able to make any type of judgment, there has been a social class system defined by the income of a family. In Dawid’s diaries, he expresses his ranking in the social class system is not only determined by economic status, but also by the elements of a person’s life that are not achieved or obtained. The people who lived in Lodz were living under the same heavy rock of oppression as Dawid did. These people were being judged, discriminated against, and frowned upon because of their ascribed elements of life.
The social-economic class system that existed in Lodz was constructed in a way that if you came from nothing you will have nothing. For most of the individuals that rested their heads in this community run by German soldiers, this was true, but not for all. In our society, we are raised to believe that education is the key. If we are educated we can be and have everything that we want. For Dawid, this was not the case; these beliefs did not exist in Lodz. Dawid did not have the opportunity to have an education. Being a part of the lower class, he was not able to continue attending school once the Germans took over. Principal Perelman announced to the students that those who had not yet paid their tuition will not have any reason to come to school the next day. (Sierakowiak 51) Those students who were told not to return to school the next day were not being told that they should not come back because of their grades or behavior, but because their family’s income fell into what was considered lower class. Even though he had labels that worked against, him he still fought for survival. Dawid survived because he embodied traits that those around him did not.
The population of Lodz that was considered lower class had to struggle for everything. They did not have sufficient amounts of food or money. Their medical care was not up to par either. The individuals that dealt with the struggle were those that were not working, unable to work, ill, poor and Jewish. Those who were lucky earned a job working for members of the higher class. The individuals that were in the high class were those that had some title of “importance” such as being a doctor. Dawid was lucky enough to have such a position. The lower class population had to fight to stay alive.
Fighting for their lives the lower class needed to posses traits that will help them survive. Many would describe The Diaries of Dawid Sierakowiak as the guide of Dawid’s survival. Dawid fought to see the each day; he embodied the elements of a strong individual during these horrifying times. Once Dawid’s father lost his job, he began trying to find him a new job. He knew that without a job, his father had a close to none chance of survival. “I have received an assignment for Father to Holzwolle-Fabrik. It seems to me, however, that nothing will come of it because on hearing the news, Father said that he doesn’t like to commute to Marysin or the work in that shop.” (Sierakowiak 235) Dawid knows that if things would stay the way they are with his father unemployed that things would not be good.
Dawid has many characteristics that are described by the model of “survival of the fittest.” The model of “survival of the fittest” is a concept that was developed by Charles Darwin. The concept is a competition for survival and dominance in society. Darwin’s theory was based in the sciences of biology and evolution. The main aspect of this model is to adapt of traits to survive and obtain dominance over others.
In Dawid’s diaries, there is a competition for survival. In the terrible time of the Holocaust, every individual was fighting to survive. Not only were they fighting for their own survival but, also for the survival of their loved ones. Times became more difficult to survive and as days passed, more people were being killed as the battle to live became more intense. There was relocation of the young, elderly, the unemployed, and those individuals who were not able to work. These individuals did not embody the traits that were needed for survival.
During the time of the Holocaust everything was a struggle. Individuals struggled fighting against illness without sufficient health care. They also struggled and lived with hunger because of food rations being cut down even more each time they received them. These individuals struggled to commute to work everyday to try and stay alive and not be sent away. Only the strong survived; survival of the fittest even meant surviving a day longer than others. Dawid is a young individual who survived and fought to see each day. He was labeled as a lower class citizen of Lodz. He overcame most of the obstacles and tried to fight for the survival of his family, as well as his.

Work Cited
Sierakowiak, Dawid. The Diary of Dawid Sierakowiak. Oxford, NY: Oxford VP,1996.

Posted by: Carlos R. Gonzalez at March 27, 2007 10:32 PM

Erika Gillenberger

Instructor Lee Hobbs

ENGL 121.003 Humanities Literature

10 March 2007

Dawid’s Ghetto Personality

Depression, suppress, starvation, humiliation, torture, cruelty and death. These experiences are of those people who were made to live in the ghetto of Lodz. In these times of physical and mental anguish it is a wonder how one could keep going on with living their lives in imprisonment. In the book The Diary of Dawid Sierakowiak, Dawid enables us to feel his emotions and state of mind during the time of Hitler’s reigh. How was Dawid’s personality affected by this monumental experience? What part of his experiences during this time played the strongest rules on his mental and spiritual beliefs and or abilities as person? Did Dawid’s family play a rule in his development in the ghetto? Dawid had many factors working against him during the start of his time spent in the ghetto and throughout this time, until he was totally engulfed into the ghetto sickness of death.
As times continually got worse in the ghetto so does Dawids father. Dawids father is causing friction in the house. The strongest amount of friction is between David and his father. Dawids father takes over the food and money rations. At first this seems as though he is being a responsible father by making sure that there will be enough rations to care for his family and to protect the little that they have. As Dawid continues writing in his journal we find out that his father is doing just the opposite of protecting his family. Dawid writes, “My bread begun to disappear again. I blame it as always on my Father, who has taken to stealing from us again at every turn. The arguments become more vehement and bitter each time.” (Sierakowiak; Dawid 160) The constant deception and greed of Dawids father from stealing their food and money rations lead Dawid into a downward spiral of hate and deep contempt for his father. The friction between the two eventually turns into a blazing fire. Dawid becomes mentally anguished from the lack of care his father has towards his family. Due to this Dawid takes over the rule of his father.
Dawid is the only other male in the family. He knows that his father is leading the family to their deaths because of his father’s actions. Unconsciously, Dawid takes over the role as the dominant male and becomes the provider for his family. Dawid shows this role change in several passages throughout his writings. He worked from the start of the ghetto until his death. Even during his weakest times Dawid would struggle and strive to find better jobs to help support him and his family. His father made no efforts to find work for himself let alone to provide money for his family. Dawid knows he needs to work because with out money they all will die from starvation.
Dawid also provides for his family by making connections with those in the ghetto who would provide him with help ranging from better jobs to getting extra food rashins. His personable skills and connections are evident through his writing as he writes:
He explained that, officially, he can’t give me another soup because Fuchs holds everything in his mitts, but that he would try from time to time to give me another ID card (the trick, through prohibited, is practiced by high-ranking officials) and so I would be able to have an extra soup. I have already received another ID card and have had two soups. (Sierakowiak; Dawid 258)
Dawids keen networking shows his character as being very personable and becomes a skill of survival for him and his family.
Dawid was just a boy of adolescents at the time of the formation of the ghettos. In this time of dire distress he was forced to grow up fast. He did not know a life as a normal teenage, but he lived a life of entrapment and became a provider. He started as a boy who was intelligent and strong and then developed into a man who became the support and anchor of his family.

Work Cited
Adelson, Alan. The Diary of Dawid Sierakowiak. 1996. New York: New York, 1998.

Posted by: Erika at March 27, 2007 10:55 PM

Shayne Schmidt

Instructor Lee Hobbs

ENGL 121.003 Humanities Literature

19 March 2007

The Greedy One

In the novel The Diary of Dawid Sierakowiak, the audience is introduced to Dawid’s father character develops into someone with the traits of being greedy. This is a diary which is written by Dawid Sierakowiak, and through his writings the visions of his father appear through his own eyes. The type of character that his father plays is somewhat typical of any human if put in the situation that their family endured. His father’s role in the family does play a part in how he treats the rest of the family. The topic is about Dawid’s father whose name is Majlech Sierakoiak and how he contributed to the family’s time spent in the ghetto of Lodz.
The major role Dawid’s father plays in the ghetto is more near the end of the diary when Dawid continuously writes about how his father takes more food for himself. Dawid’s father plays an important role in the experience of ghetto life because when somebody is at the point of starvation the only thing that person cares about is themselves. In this diary the interpretation of Dawid’s father is clearly represented by greed. The way Dawid’s father takes more food shows the point of what any human would do to survive. His father never rations off more food to his wife and children even when arguing. He also never helps his wife when she is on her death bed even while being ill. It is as if Dawid’s father’s hopes for the family means nothing to him anymore. Dawid’s father could probably care less about his family because in his eyes the only thing he cares about is himself.
There are a number of times that Dawid writes about his father’s greed. He writes that he has seen his father stealing extra food for himself. Dawid also writes how his father can no longer provide food for the family because he no longer works. Even though Dawid’s father is not working anymore he still steals more food for himself when Dawid is at work. This shows the greed of one man when everything is taken away from somebody. The constant stealing from his own family shows how his personality is shaping into a greedy man caring only for himself. As a father the role in life is to provide the family with food and guidance. There is no guidance being given to Dawid, just the arguing about his father stealing extra food. As a child, Dawid really can do nothing to his father just because of the simple fact he is much stronger even though they are weak from starvation.
One example of how Dawid’s father is taking more food himself is under the journal entry of Sunday, May 31, 1942, when Dawid explains how his father has stolen spoonfuls of his honey while he was working. His father has also stolen more spoonfuls of honey from his ill mother. Dawid also goes on to say how the tension and arguments with his father continue on. As Dawid writes about his father this shows that the need to eat was never satisfied for anyone in the ghetto life.
Although his father does steal more food for himself he does provide the family with other things. Under the journal entry of Wednesday, June 17, 1942, Dawid’s father brings home clothes for the family. He buys clothes for Dawid, and buys socks for him and his wife. Even though with hunger everlasting, the clothes are help to Dawid since his old clothes are deteriorated. This plays an important role in the family because his father is helping by providing him with clothes, however, the stealing of the food is probably more hurtful. Dawid’s father’s traits described in the diary show the greediness of one when starving to death.
In conclusion, my topic on Dawid’s father is an important part of his life in the ghetto. Maybe if his father did not steal his rations of food, he could have survived the holocaust. Every little bit of food would have probably helped Dawid survive a little longer. To survive this experience one must be a strong willed person because they will endure hell. Dawid’s father probably did what anyone of us would have done if put in the situation of starvation.

Work Cited
Sierakowiak, Dawid. The Diary of Dawid Sierakowiak: Five Notebooks from the Lodz Ghetto. 1939-43. Ed. AlanAdelson. Trans. Kamil Turowski. New York: Oxford UP, 1998.

Posted by: Shayne Schmidt at March 27, 2007 11:48 PM

Colin Hough

Instructor Lee Hobbs

ENGL 121.003

7 March 2007

Life in a Ghetto: Past and Present

Although the word is constantly used, and often misused in present day speak, a “ghetto” during the holocaust when the term was coined, meant something much different; something much deeper than just a word. The original meaning of the term is, “A section of a town or city inhabited predominantly by members of an ethnic or other minority group, often as a result of social or economic restrictions, pressures, or hardships.” (www.dictionary.com) During the holocaust, “ghetto” meant the immediate onset of expected death, complete loss of identity, extraordinarily unstable living conditions, and to most a thief of one’s will to live. It meant hatred, and not hatred in general, a specific hatred of the Jewish religion and all of its followers. However, the term “ghetto” is used in a plethora of forms in our modern day world. For instance, people use it as an adjective to describe the sub-par things in life, stating, “That car is ghetto.” Along with this grammatically alternative use of the word, it is common in present day society for people to claim that they, “live in the ghetto,” a place in most cases that happens to be somewhere within the walls of a brand new mansion-packed development down the street from Orange County. To many, “ghetto” is only a word, but to the people who experienced the Holocaust as Dawid Sierokawiak did, “ghetto” is a putrid member of any language, and an experience he/she would do anything to avoid reliving.
In The Diary of Dawid Sierokawiak: Five Notebooks from the Lodz Ghetto, a compilation of journals written by Dawid himself, he depicts in detail his daily experiences while living in a Jewish ghetto during the Holocaust. Dawid lived in a town in Poland by the name of Lodz. When the Germans invaded Poland in 1939, the dreaded period known as the Holocaust commenced and Dawid no longer lived in the town of Lodz, but the ghetto of Lodz. Throughout his journal Dawid vividly depicts the Lodz ghetto through detailed descriptions of his daily activities as well as inner thoughts and feelings at the time of his writing. Through these descriptions, Dawid projects various pictures into the minds of readers. He creates images of inequality, as he notes on multiple occasions that some inhabitants of Lodz received larger rations of food than others based on their connections. As for the sporadic deportations to what were thought to be labor camps and what are now known as German concentration camps, many of the Jews in Lodz were basically chosen by their appearances and shipped off to death while others were kept alive to work in the ghetto. Dawid also creates an image of the ghetto being an extremely unhealthy and depressing place. He explains in numerous instances of conditions rapidly becoming unsuitable for any reasonably enjoyable lifestyle, as food rations are miniscule and the spread of various diseases and viruses became outright rampant. Many inhabitants, along with Dawid, are depicted as losing the will to be optimistic of their unknown futures, as they are basically deprived of their rights as a human being.
Throughout The Diary of David Sierokawiak, a picture is created in the minds of its readers as to the characteristics of the Lodz ghetto. As for its comparison to the present day ghettos existing in almost every major city around the world, there are many similarities and differences between the two. As for their similarities, in most cases both ghettos hold true to the word’s definition as an urban area inhabited mostly by people of the same ethnicity, religion, and other defining characteristics of a group of people. Both the Lodz ghetto and present day ghettos were also created due to oppression in some form or another towards their inhabitants for given reasons. Finally, a major similarity between Lodz and present day ghettos is the lack of both wealth and cleanliness, as diseases and viruses tend to run rampant for reasons such as, but not limited to space restraints, overpopulation, poor health care, and others. As there are a great deal of similarities between the ghetto in which Dawid lived and the ghettos of present day, there are also various distinct differences between the two. As present population levels in the world are steadily increasing, the “ghettos” of today seem to become less and less exclusive to a certain ethnicity, race, or religion, as the Lodz ghetto contained exclusively Jewish people. Another distinct difference between them is that the Lodz ghetto in which Dawid lived was a direct affect of the unimaginable oppression experienced by the people of the Jewish faith. Ghettos today also face a great deal of oppression, but they can be thought of as after-affects of a time of persecution, predominantly towards African Americans. Finally, the last and most confusing difference between the two is that modern day ghettos are seen as almost fashionable to be a part of, mainly due to the emergence of hip-hop music into mainstream. As for the want to be a part of the Lodz ghetto, there would probably not be much of a following, as the Lodz ghetto in no way, shape or form exhumes anything fashionable in this or any day and age.
As seen throughout his diary from beginning to end, Dawid Sierokawiak illustrates the gruesome and horrible life of living in a Jewish ghetto in Poland during the Holocaust; an experience that could only be related to a place known as hell. Had someone similar to myself lived in a place like Lodz, a place where overwhelming pain and feelings of worthlessness appear constantly in daily life, the lack of optimism and will to live would overrun my life. This was a common feeling of those who actually did experience life in a ghetto. A strong feeling of claustrophobia would be clearly apparent in ghetto life, as in Dawid’s case normal life was experienced up until the ghetto was formed, forcing him into a situation quite foreign to any of his past experiences. A strong sense of complete neglect as well as fright of further neglect would also be felt, as “aid” or “assistance” are non-existent in the vocabulary of the ghetto in which Dawid lived. Feelings of being inhuman would overcome the mind, as inhabitants of the Lodz ghetto are treated like some sort of creatures, unworthy of life among other humans. As space is extremely restrained in the Lodz ghetto, for instance, living in the ghettos would create feelings of restraint in one’s mind and abilities. Ultimately, these feelings of restraint and unworthiness hold the recipe for the thwarting of motivation needed to succeed in life. Though Dawid Sierokawiak’s definition of the word “ghetto” is in many ways different than the present day definition, there are many similarities between the two such as, but not limited to the conditions in many ways, the negative treatment experienced by others, short and long-term affects on an inhabitant, and the general feeling towards the ghetto itself.

Works Cited
Sierokawiak, Dawid. The Diary of Dawid Sierokawiak: Five Notebooks from the Lodz Ghetto. 1943, New York: Oxford University Press, 1996.
"ghetto." Dictionary.com Unabridged (v 1.1). Random House, Inc. 06 Mar. 2007. .">http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/ghetto>.

Posted by: Colin Hough at March 28, 2007 12:37 AM

Nicole Novak

Lee Hobbs

English 121 .003 College Writing

26 March 2007

Even the Smallest Things Have a Structure

In literature, there are many different styles of writing. This is because not every piece of literature is appropriately written in the same style or format. This is why we have a variety and different critical approaches for each of the styles. However, sometimes we can find more than one style in a single piece of literature. In The Diary of Dawid Sierakowiak, there is evidence of the Structuralist format.
Most importantly, this diary has Structrualist traits because it ties each of the parts of the story into one whole tragedy. For instance, in the story when Dawid’s family was dealing with the lack of food, the literature tied in how it affected each of the members of the family. In the whole picture, this lack of food was tied in to being a big problem of the Sierakowiak family, but wasn’t as devastating as the overall ghetto and Nazi situation.
The second Structuralist tendency is how Dawid was constantly being tested. He was tested how thin he could be stretched by the Germans( Sierakowiak 147). He was tested by his work ethic by Rumkowski, and even tested by his own family with the food proportions.
The Stucturalist approach really enables the authors to write in a historical time period (Sierakowiak 3). It allows for the literature to be written with strong culture for the reader to be able to appreciate the era and location of where the literature took place. With the Structuralist format, readers can really grasp the emotions through the use of the authors language (Sierakowiak 173). For example, when Dawid explained how the prisoners had to write letters to their family tricking them to come to their ghetto really makes the reader saddened to know that the German’s were able to be so malicious (Sierakowiak 205).
In Dawid’s diary, there is support that the story could be read with symbolic “journey”. After reading what consists of a symbolic journey it is clear that Dawid hits the requirements to achieve this symbolic journey. The quester in the story is Dawid, he is a boy growing up during a very troubled time and is doing what he can to survive in hopes of making it to a better place or time. Dawid would probably wish to be anywhere where he was not prosecuted for his religion, which gives him a place to want to go. Dawid has many challenges on trying to achieve the goal of escaping the ghetto, sometimes staying in the ghetto was the safest option for him, and this slowed down the process of him ever escaping.
In conclusion, The Diary of Dawid Sierakowiak, has very many occasions of the Structuralist format. Some of these include how each of the little pieces of the story form a whole picture so we can almost relate to the story and how Dawid and his family are constantly being tested by the Natzi’s to overcome their obstacles. Also, proving to be a structural element of literature is how Dawid’s diary was really able to give the readers a sense of time and location even without seeing the location and date before each entry. Dawid structured it so that readers would know that it was from the Nazi era, and at least somewhere in Europe, if not Poland. However, it is still questioned if he really had intentions of his story to be published. Dawid’s Journal also tells about his “jouney” and the troubles he had to feat as well as have a destination and do his best to get where he needed to go.

Work Cited
Dawid Sierakowiak. Ed.Alan Adelson. Trans. by: Kamil Turowski. The Diary of Dawid
Sierakowiak. 1996. New York, New York: Oxford Press.,1998

see you in class

Posted by: Nicole Novak at March 28, 2007 09:05 AM

Erika L. Knox
Instructor Lee Hobbs
ENGL 121.003 Humanities Literature
28 March 2007

Dear Professor Hobbs,

Rumkowski: Friend of Foe?
The year is 1940, and Łόdź Ghetto has just been sealed. It is at this point that Rumkowski has just become the Nazi appointed “Mayor” of the ghetto. The Jewish people of Łόdź are now trapped within the boundaries of their own city, and they, like any other people, look to their leader for guidance and protection. There is, however, a question on each of their lips; Is Rumkowski a friend or foe? We look at Rumkowski through the eyes of Dawid Sierakowiak in The Diary of Dawid Sierakowiak.
Because the Nazi regime ultimately had all of the power over Łόdź, it can be safe to assume that Rumkowski could not do as he wished within the Ghetto. And, although some of his actions might have appeared to be unfair and harsh, Rumkowski might have been forced to take the role as the devil’s advocate. In order to maintain any sort of control over the situation, and to protect as many people as he could, Rumkowski may have made the choice to at appear as though he was complying with the wishes of the Nazi oppressor. If the Nazis did not think that he was helping their cause, they might have chosen to take more dramatic action which possibly could have cost the lives of even more Łόdź citizens.
When Rumkowski chose to send the children and elderly to their eminent deaths, he might have been thinking of the greater good. Rumkowski and the supreme director of many workshops were quoted as saying “the sacrifice of the children and the elderly is necessary…nothing could be done to prevent it.” (Sierakowiak 216). He probably realized that their death was impossible to avoid; The very young and the old could not work as the strong youths, and able adults could, and the Nazis were keeping the people of Łόdź alive for one purpose, to work. In order to meet a quota of deportees the least likely to survive were sent away first. It could be argued that this decision was reached in order to save more lives in the long run.
On the other hand Rumkowski may have played a bit too hard with the people of Łόdź in order to call him their supporter. One might also make the argument that Rumkowski acted in his own best interests. In a time of starvation and unrest in the ghetto, Dawid wrote, “…incidentally, [Rumkowski] has grown fat and looks incredibly younger…” (Sierakowiak 84). This description seems out of place for an ‘honest’ leader who was put through a difficult struggle such as the Łόdź ghetto situation. “Thousands of well-connected elderly, the sick, and children [including Rumkowski’s children] will be saved, and the Germans who have demanded 25,000 people will receive in their place completely different persons who, though able to work, will nevertheless be sacrificed to make up for the connected children and elderly.” (Sierakowiak 217). One would think that Rumkowski would have appeared older from stress and malnourished like the rest of the ghetto from the lack of available food. Rumkowski had many shady dealings, and allowed many rules to be bent or broken for those with connections. Rumkowski might have been working with the Nazis more than what was required in order to secure his own survival. Dawid wrote, “The Germans couldn’t find a better man than Rumkowski.” (Sierakowiak 118).
Rumkowski played a very difficult role as the leader of Łόdź, and although he had a league of followers, the greater majority, like Dawid, were not entirely zealous of Rumkowski’s decisions. Those who benefited from his decisions were undoubtedly much happier with Rumkowski than those who were hurt or hindered, but, in such hard times, decisions had to be made and unfortunately someone always gets the raw end. The people of Łόdź lost most of their basic freedoms and were forced to live in an extremely unstable environment. Rumkowski’s overwhelming authority combined with the people’s utter powerlessness, likely made many them very uncomfortable, and leery of Rumkowski’s motivations.
The question of Rumkowski’s motives is still one of great controversy, and it is not certain whether he did the people of Łόdź ghetto a favor, or if he purposefully sent many of them to their deaths. One thing that is certain however, is that Rumkowski played a vital part in the persecution and execution of thousands of people during the Nazi rule. The question remains today; Was Rumkowski a friend or foe?

Posted by: Erika Knox at March 28, 2007 10:11 AM

Derek Hensley
Professor Hobbs
English 121-003
21 March 2007
Are Ghettos Still Ghettos?
The word ghetto today essentially seems to have the same, or at least a similar meaning compared to the time of the Holocaust. In that time as well as today, it generally means a group of people that are segregated from the rest of society. However, there are a few differences between the type of ghetto that Dawid lived in and the ones that are found currently.
In Dawid’s journal writings he gives his audience a detailed explanation of what life was actually like in the ghetto in which he lived. He makes the reader understand how harsh the conditions in the ghetto were, and how much of a struggle it was to make it through each and every day. People of the ghetto were treated very poorly, almost like animals. The food was scarce and people worked for very little pay. If someone in the family did not work, the family did not eat. From Dawid’s descriptions the people in the ghetto were treated worse than a slave would be treated.
The ghetto that Dawid and his family occupied was not much different than ghettos people live in now. Today, ghetto life is still hard living. The conditions are harsh, unclean, and unsafe. The income of the families living in them is still extremely low. People in ghettos today receive food stamps much like in Dawid’s time. Luxuries in modern ghettos are also non existent. The current ghettos are also segregated from the rest of society in the same way the old ones were. Today, ghettos are still usually in an undesirable area of town and the housing is usually beaten up and barely functional. The main difference in today’s ghettos is that the people are not necessarily being held against their will. Also, the people now are also not being controlled by and evil dictator that wants to kill them, unlike Dawid’s situation.
If I were forced to live in a ghetto myself, of course I would absolutely hate it. I would feel like I was not part of the rest of the world, and like I was very low on the totem pole of life. I would have a great feeling of unimportance and feel that I did not matter in the world. Living in the ghetto would give me a sense that I was in a huge hole that I could never dig myself out of. Being constantly surrounded by people who are going nowhere, just like myself, and seeing the constant struggle of others to get by in life would be extremely discouraging. Living this way, in these conditions would possibly crush my hopes of ever making it out. Surely, these seemed to be similar feelings of Dawid and his family along with the rest of the people in the Holocaust. It is amazing that some people made it through this horrifying time in history.

Posted by: Derek Hensley at March 28, 2007 10:49 AM

Steve Petrone

Instructor Lee Hobbs

ENGL 121.003

13 March 2007

Importance of Education

Schooling in the twentieth century is vital to a country’s success. In the United States, the education of a child shapes him/her into their own individual character in which they contribute a small piece of their personality to the world. This is what it means to be a student. To learn the tools necessary such as reading, writing, and arithmetic, to communicate to the world so that history does not repeat itself. Education is responsible for the prospering of the western world apart from other parts of the world and third world countries.
At first, children are unaware of the meaning and significance of school because they are too young. As you grow older, learning becomes more and more important in a child’s life. For some people, school just does not work out. My brother, for example, was never the studious type, and his school experiences have shaped him into who he is today. If a student is not having fun while at school, more than likely they will not further pursue a secondary education.

Of the memories that I have about my childhood school days, I can look back and honestly say that they were the best days of my life. For me, school was a place to get away and hang out with friends in the school yard. We
were able to roam the playground freely and do whatever we wanted, well, almost anything. Although I did love recess, I also always liked going into the classroom and learning new things that, by the end of the day, I could go home to my parents and tell them what I had learned. If I couldn’t have recess, or even worse, couldn’t go to school at all, as in Dawid’s case, I would become lonely because you wouldn’t be able to see the friends that you would normally see on a daily basis. School is an excellent place to learn new things and to meet new people, and if someone were unable to attend school, it would greatly limit that persons ability to educate themselves and to better their life.
I am sure that Dawid and his friends were probably very upset and confused at the same time that they could no longer attend school. After all Dawid did very well at the private Jewish school and was there on a scholarship so he must have enjoyed attending school. This must have been a really big adjustment for Dawid from going to school with friends to working in a factory every day. It would not make sense to just one day be told not to go to school. Today, childhood throughout the United States is shaped around going to school and receiving an education.

Work Cited
Sierakowiak, Dawid. The Diary of Dawid Sierakowiak: Five Notebooks from the Lodz Ghetto. New York: Oxford UP, 1996.

Posted by: steve at March 28, 2007 10:56 AM

Andy Hood
Instructor Lee Hobbs
ENGL 121.003 Humanities Literature
6 March 2007
Taken for Granted
Many things in life are taken for granted without the person even noticing. It could be a luxury, a hobby or anything really. It usually turns out that the things taken for granted are the things that come easy to people. People only stress about things that are difficult in life. But why is it that people take certain things for granted when they know how bad it can really get for other people? It’s because people only have the ability or power to imagine these things. One has to truly experience the hardships to truly understand them. School is one of these things many Americans of the twenty-first century take for granted. They didn’t go through the struggle that many other people had to deal with, such as Dawid Sierakowiak and the rest of Poland’s Jewish population during the time of World War II.
School presents children with a variety of new opportunities. It gives children a chance to begin another chapter in their cycle of life. It gives them a chance to take a few steps up the ladder in society. Everyone wasn’t blessed with the same abilities. School gives children that are not very gifted in other areas, a chance to distinguish themselves as an individual and maybe even boost their confidence. Mostly though, the opportunity of going to school helps children meet new people and integrate with children of all different cultures. This is why it is hard for many people to truly understand Dawid’s situation. We, as children, did not experience someone telling us we weren’t good enough to attend school. Dawid’s walk to school sometimes was interrupted by someone demanding he go to work and that he was not worthy of school (Sierakowiak 47). Not only could he not integrate with children of other cultures, but he was also part of the culture that wasn’t permitted in the schools.
Society views school as being a tool of assessment. It seems to be the world-wide view that the more education one has, the more one knows and is capable of doing. In order to excel in life, one must first pursue a life of education because it prepares one for the world. Society today is the complete opposite of that which Dawid was forced to face. Instead of being encouraged and sometimes forced to go to school as children are today, Dawid was being told not to go and sometimes that he could not go.
I remember the first day of school for me. I knew almost nothing about it, but I couldn’t have been more excited. I was the youngest in the family so both of my brothers and my sister had already begun their formal education. It meant I was going to follow in the same foot steps I saw each sibling take. It meant I was growing up a little bit. My mom walked me to the bus stop the first day of school, but I believe it was required by our school district at the time. She told me how I was going to meet a million new friends and try new things rather than sitting on the same couch cushion for days at a time. My first day of school ever was similar to Dawid’s first day each year. As the years rolled by for me, school became a drag, and I focused on all the wrong things. I envy Dawid for carrying with him the same passion and enthusiasm for school each year as I did only when it was something new.
It was an absolute tragedy that the Jewish population of Poland was kept from going to school and continuing their education. Some of the world’s brightest minds may have been kept from the world because of the German invasion into Poland. Hitler was ripping apart the Jewish education piece by piece. It is amazing that the children still urged more than anything to receive their formal education. Polish history was removed from their education, and German language class was put in. Despite that slap in the face, Dawid was able to twist it into something good. “Knowing one more language wouldn’t hurt,” he writes (Sierakowiak 53).
The Jewish children must have been absolutely crushed being barred from school during this time. Children these days would be excited at the fact that they weren’t permitted in school. They would simply jump on the discrimination fact. It would not cross their minds twice that they were missing their education as the Jewish children did. Many children these days take school for granted when they should seize the opportunity while it lasts.

Work Cited
Sierakowiak, Dawid. The Diary of Dawid Sierakowiak. Ed. Alan Adelson. Trans.
Kamil Turowski. New York: Oxford University Press, 1998.

Posted by: Andy Hood at March 28, 2007 10:59 AM

Jeff Hoover
Professor Lee Hobbs
English 121 College Writing
March 18, 2007

The Depths of Literature
The Diary of Dawid Sierakowiak is a very moving memoir written during the author’s time spent in the Lodz ghetto during the Holocaust. After reading this record of life in the Lodz Ghetto, we are left with many questions that will go unanswered, but some that can be answered. The question I am going to attempt to answer is a simple but also complicated one. Is this diary a work of Literature? This may seem like a simple question but determining if a diary counts as literature takes a good bit of research into the definitions of literature. In my search, I found two different views on what literature is. The first approach I found in an article in the course pack written by Jim Meyer, and the second in the Roberts text book. I am going to examine both of these views to the best of my ability to answer this question.
The prototype approach provided in the course pack provides a list that shows what experts have agreed defines a work of literature. The first says that a work of literature must be a written text, which The Diary of Dawid Sierakowiak obviously is. Second, it states that works of literature “are marked by careful use of language, including features such as creative metaphors, well-turned phrases, elegant syntax, rhyme, alliteration, meter” (Meyer 19). This, however, is not a noticeable aspect of the diary, and it is not surprising since it was started when the author was fourteen and he had no intent on writing it like an essay. Third, the pack states that it must be in a literary genre, meaning poetry, prose fiction, or drama. This diary also does not fit in to this category since it does not fit in to any of these three genres.
On the fourth point, we finally have one that the diary clearly does fit, and that is that the story can be read aesthetically. To be read aesthetically means that a reader’s main purpose is not to derive facts or information, but to enjoy an interesting story. This diary, however, can also be read non-aesthetically, as it is a day by day recording of the events in the Lodz ghetto from the point of view of somebody who lived there. Since this was written in the ghetto it provides an excellent historical record for somebody reading for the facts. On the same note, to qualify as literature, the author must have intended for the story to be read aesthetically, which Dawid did not. Dawid, as far as we know, did not intend for anyone to read this.
The last qualification is that the story must contain many weak implicatures, which the diary does not. Implicatures are meant for the reader, things left for interpretation. Dawid did not include implicatures because as far as he knew he was the only person who was going to read this, and there is no point for an author to leave their own diary up to interpretation if it is for his eyes only.
I found the second definition of literature in the Robert’s textbook. This book classifies literature into four different genres. These genres are prose fiction, poetry, drama, and nonfiction prose. Prose fiction consists of “myths, parables, romance, novels, and short stories” (Roberts 2). The Diary of Dawid Sierakowiak does not fit into this genre because it is not a work of fiction, and it clearly does not fit into the poetry drama because it is not a poem. The drama genre is defined as “literature designed for stage or film presentation by people for the benefit and delight of other people” (Roberts 3). This story is clearly not a drama because it was not designed for anything other than Dawid recording his thoughts.
Finally, we have nonfiction prose. The Roberts textbook states that “nonfiction prose consists of news reports, feature articles, essays, editorials, textbooks, historical and biographical works, and the like, all of which interpret facts and present judgments and opinions” (Roberts 3). This genre is one that I think Dawid’s diary does fulfill. This diary can be seen as a historical or biographical work because it is a historical recording of what went on in the ghettos during the holocaust, and it is also Dawid’s story of his own life from fourteen to nineteen years old. I feel it can be left up to one’s own interpretation as to whether or not this is actually a historical or biographical work but from my point of view it does fit into this genre which makes this a work of literature.
After looking at both the course pack and the Roberts textbook views on what a work of literature is, it is tough to arrive at a decision. When going along with the course pack view I see that this diary only matches one of the criteria, and can go either way on the other. This would lead us to believe that this is not a work of literature. When I look at the textbook, however, I see that this diary, in my own opinion, does fall under the nonfiction prose genre which does in fact make it a work of literature. When it comes down to it, this question is really left up to one’s own personal views of what literature is. There is not definite answer, but I choose to see this book as a work of literature.

Works Cited
Meyer, Jim. “What is Literature.” Humanities Literature Course Pack, 19.
Roberts, Edgar. Writing About Literature. New Jersey: Upper Saddle River, 2006.
Sierakowiak, Dawid. The Diary of Dawid Sierakowiak. New York: Oxford University Press, 1996.

Posted by: Jeff Hoover at March 28, 2007 11:06 AM

Thomas Nolf
Professor Lee Hobbs
ENGL 121.003
19 March 2007
La Vita Dolce?
Unconsciously, Dawid’s actions represent the hope that was an enduring strength for the people of his time. Character is defined as an extended verbal representation of a human being; the inner self that determines thought, speech, and behavior(Roberts 279). David displayed the necessary strengths to survive weeks let alone years in the ghetto. The Nazi regime formed Dawid’s physicality through constant labor and mal nutrition, but his mentality was a lasting strength for himself and certainly his family. Dawid unveils these repeated strengths as he transits from a more representative character, to the empowerment that encompasses a dynamic character.
A dynamic character has the ability to change and adapt to their surroundings. Along with these traits, I think a dynamic character has to have some sort of impact on the social values of their time. David was forced to change from his life of Jewish boys camps and school, to the everyday struggles of the ghetto in Lodz. With such demanding requests from the Germans, the average teenager would probably weaken in character and rely heavily on their guardian figures. These figures such as Rumkoski and Dawid’s father were suppose to be the strongholds in the life of their young. Most societies take pride in their youth being the future of their civilization, but in the case of David he is forced into this role at a much younger age. He displays his character strengths by way of taking the responsible male role in the family because of the lack of this figure in his father. He and his father have in some way swapped roles in this situation. This underlying theme in The Diary of Dawid Sierakowiak can be summed up very well when Dawid reveals to his audience that he would not be able to become a “professional revolutionary” because his concern for his family’s well being would not allow him to cope with himself(Sierakowiak 10).
Dawid’s outlook on the situation occurring in his present life is the epitome of optimism. With everything in David’s world going bad, he remains hopeful that he and his people will make it out of this life of oppression. The courage that Dawid displays is remarkable considering the time and events going on around him. While most people, including his father, were out solely for themselves, Dawid puts the best interest of his family atop his priority list. Dawid’s intelligence and outspoken ways are all contributing factors that land him in a figure spot of the last dying strength of the polish Jews. David’s strength comes from more than the fact that he is young and caring for his family, he in a sense through his actions and outlook on life display the characteristics of a dynamic character. Roberts explains on character,” what a character says reveals what he/she is like”(Roberts 66). Dawid fits this mold because he tries to make the best out of the daily bad situations he comes across.
Fittingly, I felt necessary to show Dawid’s role as a protagonist in society. David represents the central movement against the mass genocide and oppression that faced his people. As we know, Dawid not only plays a strong hold to his family, but also to the spirit of his people, exemplifying the term of perpetual hope. The discovery of Dawid’ notebooks only strengthen the fact that he represents and discusses topics and feelings which were frowned upon by his leaders. His story gave hope to more than the polish Jewish citizens, but to anyone who is down on their luck.
Works Cited
Roberts, Edgar V. Writing About Literature. 2006. Ed. New Jersey; Pearson Education.
Sierakowiak, Dawid. The Diary of Dawid Sierakowiak: Five Notebooks from the Lodz Ghetto. !939-1943. New York: Oxford University Press, 1996

Posted by: thomas nolf at March 28, 2007 11:28 AM

Kendra Sledzinski
Instructor Lee Hobbs
ENGL 121.003 Humanities Literature
19 March 2007
When the Going Gets Tough, the Weak Get Radical
Reading The Diary of Dawid Sierakowiak, a reader probably couldn’t help but notice the differences in not only class, but society – it was as obvious as the history lesson the book posed itself. Because of this difference and clash in society, looking at the book from an economic determinist or Marxist approach doesn’t prove to be a daunting task.
In the Roberts textbook, he says the literature that emerges from this kind of analysis “features individuals in the grips of the class struggle ... the poor and oppressed who spend their lives in endless drudgery and misery, and those attempts to rise above their disadvantages usually result in renewed suppression.” (Roberts 271)
The Jewish population – Dawid included – in 1940s Europe was really nothing but oppressed. They didn’t even have to be poor, just Jewish. They were oppressed by being forced into shanty places in towns called ghettos and for the very unfortunate, gassed or beaten to death in concentration camps by the Nazis. Aside from history speaking for itself, I would say that this was a group of citizens who certainly lived in “endless drudgery and misery” for a good decade or so. If they worked, they couldn’t get ahead, as exemplified by Dawid and his family. Dawid worked a job, made wages and was still malnourished. And lack of food resources (which was clearly on purpose) is something I would cite as an example of suppression.
In the beginning of the book, I don’ t think that it ws easy to distinguish the economic classes. It is after the Nazi control of the Jews do they Jews really start to live like lower-class citizens. At least, in Dawid’s case it appears this way. Dawid writes about German soldiers seizing radios and nice clothes from Dawid’s home.
“They ransacked the wardrobe and took my shaver and two old razor blades; they wanted money and new underclothes. They may take all our ‘riches’!” Dawid writes (Sierakowiak 57).
If the Sierakowiak’s were poor from the start, they probably would have no riches. Also, the Jews were pretty much forced into being lower-class citizens after the Germans prohibited any Jews to “trade manufactured goods, leather, and textiles.” (Sierakowiak 53) This restriction definitely had to stifle economic growth and prosperity for any citizen of the Jewish faith, since some of their income depending on their trade.
Because the Germans were able to live their life as they wish, they werethe higher-class citizens in the book, and are, too, the group that has it better. The Jews have it worse because they were being forced out of their homes and into ghettos and concentration camps. Once again, history speaks for itself. The Nazis and those of the Aryan Race did not have to endure these struggles of war the way the Jews did. A person reading this book would most likely be familiar with the Holocaust and the atrocities of World War II.
Roberts references social Darwinism as an element of the Marxist approach, and that can translate into, like natural selection, “survival of the fittest.” What this means is that those built, fed and meant to grow and prosper end up surviving hardship, whether it be economically or physically. Darwin theorized that through evolution, some species died out because they simply weren’t fit for the conditions and those better built or equipped endured. This “survival of the fittest” mode is everywhere in Dawid’s world. Those in the ghetto who weren’t strong enough, couldn’t survive, such as his mother.
This is a problem Dawid tackled in several of his entries. In one of them, he writes about voicing his opinion about student starvation at a council of class delegates at school: “A proposal was put forward to consider the problem of additional nutrition (double portions of soup for those particularly weakened by hunger.) Pretnka, however, ordered us to reject discussion of these endeavors, and to consider the more important (!?) Matter of students’ responsibilities! I protested and declared that additional nutrition for students before death seems to be a worthwhile cause to me, and that immediate resolution of the issue is our most urgent problem.” (Sierakowiak 90)
Here, Dawid rebelled against what the others though ought to be. Dawid seeked immediate resolution so that students stop dying, but obviously those higher up, “the enemy,” put their schooling first. But how could they think straight while starving? Dawid thought a lot is wrong with the current system and it’s why he joined a Marxist group. He’s hesitant at first and questions the group, but then actively studied its readings of Lenin and Marx. Thinking in a Marxist way, which values collective theory and sharing, completely goes against the enemy’s view of totalitarianism, in which the state (i.e. the dictator) controls all.
Being as oppressed as he was, I don’t blame Dawid for thinking outside the controlled-thought box and giving Marx a try. When people are oppressed, they tend to take radical measures. This is why there is social revolution in the first place. It is why the colonists declared independence from Britain in the late 1700s, it is why the slaves revolted in the 1860s and it is why so many people are protesting the current government. Thomas Jefferson suggested that social revolution should happen every 25 years or so to make people truly content with a government they enlisted themselves. If they change the government to what they want, the government is then the essence of the people, which to Jefferson was the essence of the United States. It is why thMarxism during this time was radical because it is the exact opposite of the totalitarian government the fascists forced on people. Dawid was desperate and it was his release.

Works Cited

Roberts, Edgar V. Writing About Literature: Tenth Edition. New Jersey: Prentice Hall, 2003.

Sierakowiak, Dawid. The Diary of Dawid Sierakowiak. New York: Oxford University Press,

Posted by: Kendra Sledzinski at March 28, 2007 11:31 AM


For formal reading response #2, after reading DDS, you were to engage/discuss the text by answering ONE of the following 20 questions (listed below).

Remember, your response should have had a clear thesis with arguments presented in a logical manner. Your thesis should have been related to the topic you selected and any information in your paper should have been “pointing to” your thesis statement. See tonight's assignment below (beneath topic #20)


Topic #1

Go back over our readings on “character” and see what you can (or can’t) apply about “literary” characters (fictive) to the “historical character” (non-fictive) of Dawid based on his notebooks. Discuss the “character” of Dawid, his hopes, his dreams, his personality, his role in life, his role in his family, etc. How do you think Dawid perceived himself?

Topic #2

Why does someone keep a diary? Is it important? Do you think Dawid’s “motives” for keeping a diary were similar to those of children today? Why or why not? What are those motives?

Topic #3

Go back over our readings on “character” and see what you can (or can’t) apply about “literary” characters (fictive) to the “historical character” (non-fictive) of Dawid’s Mother based on his notebooks. Discuss the “character” of Dawid’s mother, her hopes, her dreams, her personality, her role in life, her role in his family, etc. How do you think the others may have perceived her?

Topic #4

Go back over our readings on “character” and see what you can (or can’t) apply about “literary” characters (fictive) to the “historical character” (non-fictive) of Dawid’s Father based on his notebooks. Discuss the “character” of Dawid’s Father, his hopes, his dreams, his personality, his role in life, his role in his family, etc. How do you think the others may have perceived him?

Topic #5

Think about what you personally “expect” from your community leaders. Do you expect them to protect your interests (or actively destroy them)? Now, go back over our readings on “character” and see what you can (or can’t) apply about “literary” characters (fictive) to the “historical character” (non-fictive) of Rumkowski based on Dawid’s notebooks. Discuss the “character” of Rumkowski, his hopes, his dreams, his personality, his role in life, his role in the community, etc. How do you think the others may have perceived him?

Topic #6

The narrative of DDS moves from a time of peace to a time of war. How would you characterize the different reactions in the community (portrayed in the notebooks) to the invasion? What do these reactions tell us about the children’s view of the situation? How might you and your friends respond should you find your own country invaded and occupied by foreign soldiers?

Topic #7

Take a moment to recall your own neighbors as a child and think about how you normally expect your “neighbors” or community to act. Now consider the neighbors of Dawid. What was their behavior like during the course of the narrative? What kind of messages/signals/examples did the children “receive” from their neighbors’ behavior?

Topic #8

Think about all the different kinds of “changes” that occurred during the course of Dawid’s story. Identify and explain as many as you can. How did the children in Dawid’s world experience the changes which occurred in their environment?

Topic #9

What does school mean for a child? For society? What was the “meaning” of the first day of school for you? Were you “escorted”? Try to imagine if you were told that you couldn’t attend school because of “who you are.” In light of Dawid’s testimony about the Lodz school system after the invasion, how do you think the Jewish children felt about being barred from school?

Topic #10

When you were a child, did you depend on someone to take care of you, buy your food, and prepare it for you, etc.? Try to describe how Dawid felt after his father became unemployed. How do you think this affected day-to-day life in his family? How did Dawid “react” to this situation throughout his story compared to his father, mother, and siblings, for example?

Topic #11

Many of us, at least some time in our lives, have worn tee shirts or pins, for example, or some other “signifier” that identifies us with some particular “group” whether it was for a particular music group or religious jewelry. In any case, you’ve probably never been “forced” to wear such an “identifier.” In war occupied Poland, the Nazi regime forced Jews to wear badges that identified them by ethnic group. What do you think the badge meant to those who were forced to wear it? What does it mean to be singled out, labeled, or profiled? How would you react?

Topic #12

We hear about people living in “ghettos” today but what did the word originally mean? Dawid and his family were forced to live in a ghetto and he described different aspects of “ghetto life.” What picture arises from his descriptions? How is the ghetto of Dawid alike and/or different from the places some people refer to as “ghetto” today? How would you feel if you were required to live in only one, narrowly
defined area of your city/county and nowhere else?

Topic #13

Go back and review our readings from Appendix B in the Roberts text called “Critical Approaches.” How can you apply the “Moral/Intellectual” approach (pp. 182-183) to Dawid’s diaries? Is there a message? If so, what? What is Dawid “teaching” us essentially, as his readers?

Topic #14

Go back and review our readings from Appendix B in the Roberts text called “Critical Approaches.” How can you apply the “Topical/Historical” approach (pp. 183-184) to Dawid’s diaries? Are there things in the narrative that are just impossible for the reader to understand without outside research? If so, what? What do we know about Poland in the years 1939 to 1943 from Dawid that we probably couldn’t get from a “traditional” book of history about famous leaders and battles?

Topic #15

Go back and review our readings from Appendix B in the Roberts text called “Critical Approaches.” How can you apply the “New Critical/Formalist” approach on pages 184-185—normally reserved for works of fiction—to a work of “non-fiction” such as Dawid’s diaries? Consider what you’ve learned so far in this course about character, point-of-view, plot and structure (go back and review Roberts if you need to). How can these ways of dissecting a story into its basic “parts” be applied to Dawid’s notebooks? Does it work? Why or why not?

Topic #16

Go back and review our readings from Appendix B in the Roberts text called “Critical Approaches.” How can you apply the “Structuralist” approach on pages 185-187—normally reserved for works of fiction—to a work of “non-fiction” such as Dawid’s diaries? Consider what you’ve learned so far about patterns that are paralleled in other stories (go back and review “Every Trip is a Quest” in the CP if you need to). Is there a symbolic “journey” in this story? Are there any similarities in the journey patterns of DDS, WD and/or any of the other stories we’ve read thus far? Explain.

Topic #17

Go back and review our readings from Appendix B in the Roberts text called “Critical Approaches.” How can you apply the “Feminist” approach on pages 187-188 to the content found in Dawid’s diaries? How are women portrayed or ignored in DDS? How important are they, as depicted by Dawid? How are they treated? Why is this an important piece of the puzzle?

Topic #18

Go back and review our readings from Appendix B in the Roberts text called “Critical Approaches.” How can you apply the “Economic Determinist/Marxist” approach on pages 188-189 to the content found in Dawid’s diaries? How are the different economic classes represented in the narratives (poor, middleclass, rich, etc.)? Who has it the best and who has it the worst and why? Do understand what is meant by the “survival of the fittest” model? How is the “survival of the fittest” evidenced in the world of Dawid? What are Dawid’s ideas about what’s wrong and how things “ought” to be? Are they different from “the enemy’s” idea? How?

Topic #19

Go back and review our readings from Appendix B in the Roberts text called “Critical Approaches.” How can you apply the “Psychological/Psychoanalytic” approach on pages 189-190 to the content found in Dawid’s diaries? Do you know the following popular “concepts” from pop-psychology: depression, anxiety, addiction, dependence, abnormal, obsession, compulsion, introvert, extravert, chronic, phobic (phobia), etc.? How is Dawid’s character/personality affected by his ordeal mentally/spiritually? How are his friends and families (you may discuss individually)? How are they alike, different, related?

Topic #20

Dawid’s notebooks are historical documents. But, taken collectively, is the ‘diary” (as prose) a work of “Literature” (with a capital “L”)? Go back and review our first few readings in the Coursepack and on pages 1-4 in the Roberts text to see how others have defined literature and decide. If yes, explain your answer and support your argument with citations from the readings. If you don’t think it is classified as literature, do you think it should? Why or why not? Cite any evidence from the readings.

A few comments about your last papers:

Remember, AFTER your reading responses are already submitted to me is NOT the time to ask about a writing problem you had if you wanted a good score. You should know that I routinely answer MANY students questions about papers via e-mail, even during the weekends and breaks, believe it or not (who pays me for that?). If you take the time to e-mail me, even if I don’t answer, at least you have a “case” to make. However, if you don’t even try, how can I sympathize with your plight?

Also, as I’ve said repeatedly in class, there is always the IUP Writing Center in Eicher Hall. As IUP students, ALL OF YOU have already paid for its services, so it’s absolutely free for you to use. The staff there (other students) are there to help you with your writing: if you having problems on where to put commas, for example, you should go there for help. So show some initiative and take a little responsibility folks. It’s not really my fault if you don’t use the writing center: I know that several students in the class ARE using it. I’ve also suggested that it's a good idea to have other people (outside of class) proofread your papers (roommates, friends, etc.). Again, it’s not my fault if you don’t ask anyone for help. Finally, I’ve met with humanities literature students during my office hours MANY times this semester to proofread papers and suggest changes. Looking back, have you ever asked me if that could be arranged?

HOMEWORK for 3/23/2007:

Your assignment is to REVISE formal reading response #2 according to the marks indicated on your final draft and grading rubric coversheet. Correct, revise and print a new hardcopy of the paper for your portfolio folder (paper clip to other drafts and put newest on top). This will be checked/collected the final week of classes. Then publish your edited, digital revision online both here in the comment box below AND on www.turnitin.com in the proper web folder.


*NOTE* The deadline for this assignment has now passed. Comments are no longer being accepted for this exercise


ATTENTION: Previous student discussion of The Diary of Dawid Sierakowiak can be found HERE

Posted by: Lee Hobbs at March 28, 2007 02:45 PM

Jessica P.
Dr. Hobbs

Reflections on The Diary of Dawid Sierakowiak

Unlike the other books we have read in Holocaust Class, Dawid’s Sierakowiak’s Diaries were different as the setting was placed in the Ghetto. While other books were set in Auschwitz or other concentration camps, primarily this book was set in the Lodz Ghetto, a closed slave/work camp. Before the war, Lodz was the textile capital of Eastern Europe; however, when the Germans took over they closed it off, only importing Jews from surrounding areas in Europe during the war.

After reading Dawid’s diaries, I obtained a better understanding of how the Ghetto was run. Starvation was a primary problem and a deciding factor that caused many deaths. Most of the journals centered on what food Dawid and his family was rationed and how much of it they were given. At the beginning of the war, the students were allowed to remain attending classes at school; however, as the war progressed, the schools for the average people were closed and everyone was required to work. Those who did not have a job did not receive food rations and risked a greater chance of being transported to concentration camps outside the ghetto.

One interesting and sad event was that there was a definite gap between the leaders and everyone else. Those with connections of the upper class leaders were able to obtain more food and clothing while everyone else starved. Thus, the burgouise grew fat while hundreds of people starved to death. Many died of different diseases such as typhus, tuberculosis, and hunger.

Dawid was a very bright teenager. I found it amazing that he attained the highest grades even when he could barely read because of starvation. He took on many students to tutor in order to gain money. Besides his journals, he composed many poems dealing with his life in the ghetto and that of his family.

“The future ceased to mean what you might be or do and became instead an issue of how soon you would die” (vii). This quote essentially sums up the attitude of the book. His journals began with hope but because of the horrible working conditions and starvation, ended with despair and death. It is almost incomprehensible what the world would be like if all the thousands people did not die. How many mathematicians, musicians, business men, scientists, architects, etc. were lost, unable to share their talents with the world. The atrocities that men committed during this war are shocking and horrific. Let us pray that humans learn from their mistakes and that these atrocities are never repeated.

Works Cited
The Diary of Dawid Sierakowiak. Trans. Kamil Turowski. Ed. Alan Adelson. New York/Oxford: Oxford UP, 1996.

Posted by: Jessica Pall at March 25, 2009 08:45 AM

Emily Belvo
Dr. B. Lee Hobbs
ENG 340
March 24, 2009
Review on “The Diary of Dawid Sierakowiak”
In reading “The Diary of Dawid Sierakowiak”, I have a completely different perspective of the on goings that happened during the Holocaust era. The books we have read up to this point encounter the authors’ portrayal of their lives in the death camps such as Auschwitz and Birkenau. In reading Dawid Sierakowiak’s diaries, the audience gets a completely different spectrum of these traumatic times. Sierakowiak’s diaries describe his day to day life in the Lodz ghetto. Although we have seen a few films displaying the ghetto life, this diary has a crucial and important contrast. This diary is in the mind set of a 15-19 year old. I was amazed as I was reading Dawid Sierowiak’s diary to believe that this highly educational and organized journal was from a fifteen year old child. To think that a teenager has the knowledge of a 25 year old in the times of German occupation is incredible. Sierakowiak shows such passion and commitment to his heritage through words and very actions he describes in his journal. In the beginning, as Sierakowiak views over the devastation and humiliation he sees in his people’s eyes as they are completely controlled by the Germans, Sierakowiak writes:
Oh, you stupid, abysmally stupid, foolish blockheads! It’s our oppressors
who should be ashamed, not us. Humiliation inflicted by force does not
humiliate. But anger and helpless rage tear a man apart when he is forced
to do such stupid, shameful, abusive work. Only one response remains:
revenge! (Sierakowiak 47)
Sierakowiak’s words have such a maturity and stability to them. He talks of all the problems in his home town. He also talks of the ongoing news about the war and what is being done in a political manner. His words become actions as Sierakowiak notes the 700-900 calorie diet the Jews around him face everyday. This diet becomes deadly and scary, as Sierakowiak shows with the strongest man in their town dies of starvation and exhaustion. He pronounces that the children in school should have more nutrition in their diets as they are all dying. In his protest, Sierakowiak wins over his argument and helps people become better with their nutrition. In this diary, Sierakowiak shows himself, a 15-19 year old teenager, witness the rapid progression the Nazi’s had on these camps, his insight of the political matters, the heartache of losing life, and the attempt to survive his own trials. Dawid Sierakowiak, although dying at a young age, lived his life in a heroic way and made the most out his terrifying life by helping those around him.

Posted by: Emily Belvo at March 26, 2009 11:28 AM

Danielle Dunlevy
March 23, 2005
Dr. Hobbs
Eng 340
The Diary of Dawid Sierakowiak
I really was intrigued by Dawid Sierakowiak’s five notebooks. It was different from the other books that we have read because most of this had to do with him being in the ghetto and actually ends there. Most of the other stories have people starting in the ghettos and then being moved to a camp. Dawid’s writings seem to be one of the things that kept him going for a long time. He seemed to be a family man and seemed to like education. When he became a translator it seemed to fit his personality also because he loved to write. Most of his stories about his feelings really tugged at some heart stings. We almost did not have the notebooks because it was mentioned that they were found in a stove ready to be burned. I think that this book has hit home the most for me because he is almost around my age and I can relate to him and how he thinks. It is hard to me to look back when I was his age and think what I was able to do compared to what he was doing and what he was not allowed to do. Through all of this he seemed to keep his hopes and dreams alive. Even in the every end when he wants the job in the bakery, he was so excited about it but then we never find out if he actually gets the job or not. He died only a few months after he wrote about the bakery. It seems that none of his dreams came true because the main one was him staying alive.

Posted by: Danielle Dunlevy at March 27, 2009 12:28 AM

Jennifer Merrigan
March 24, 2009
Reading Response

The Diary of Dawid Sierakowiak : Five Notebooks from the Lodz Ghetto is the memoirs of Dawid Sierakowiak from the a little before the start of the war, until the Lodz ghetto is liquidated. This piece for me gave me a tremendous connection between the author and myself, simply because he was just a normal young man until WWII began and his feelings are so organic I feel like I could sit and talk to him in deep conversation about his experiences just by reading his diary. This also gave me a better understanding of exactly what was going on, at what time each event happened, and how the people in ghettos were feeling by all the information and their struggle as to whether they should believe it or think it a rumor.

“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 theme that I have seen continuously in these books is the one about Poles habitually pleased in Jewish humiliation and suffering. However, 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.'" This caught my attention simply because Sierakowiak hardly mentions the Poles at all, and in this instance, you never hear about Poles being pleased to see the Jews suffering.

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.

Works Cited
The Diary of Dawid Sierakowiak. Trans. Kamil Turowski. Ed. Alan Adelson. New York/Oxford: Oxford UP, 1996.

Posted by: J.Merrigan at March 30, 2009 09:16 PM

The “Diary of David Sierakowiak” is exactly that, a diary of a man who gives the play by play of crime in the town of Lodz. He was only fifteen when he write his journal about what is going on in the camps and what all that he sees. One of the special things in this diary is how detailed it is. Not only is it so much in detail but it is very cut, dry and to the point, his entries can range from the biggest deal to the smallest of details.
One of the main things that I thought was interesting was the style of writing. David never seems to be stressed or annoyed. He had a sense of humor about the whole thing that made him stay very calm and contend about his surroundings. He would make fun of Hitler, make jokes and make jokes at what was going on. The way that David wrote about things was from a point of view of a child but at the same time knew what was going on and just went about his business. Another thing that sticks out is what he does, be reads the paper, writes letters and does what seems to be normal to the point that I didn’t even think that he was in the camp until it came to the food that he ate that is was monitored. For a young kid to lose both of his parents and handle this situation on his own and be able to write about it in the manner that he does is simply remarkable. No real complaints and just did what he was told to do. The style of his writing is very short and to the point but has so much to talk about that he doesn’t seem to make a big deal about anything just stating what he is sees as if it was normal, he doesn’t show any emotion or any worry which compared to the other books is something that hasn’t been seen. I thought this story was very interesting and different from any other story that we have read, not only was it told from a child’s point of view but with the topics that it talked about and the way that it was handled. This book I believe could also be taught along with Anne Frank when talking about the Holocaust to young children. It shows what happened and all they had to go thru from a child’s point of view that is simple to understand and relate to.

Posted by: Renee Forero at March 31, 2009 01:14 PM


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