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Their Childhood and the Holocaust

A Child’s Perspective in Polish Documentary and Autobiographical Literature


Justyna Kowalska-Leder

Children have a specific perception of the Holocaust: it did not destroy their earlier world view, but became the field of first experiences. This book focuses on the traumatic dimension of the Holocaust and how it is expressed (or left unexpressed) in children’s diaries. «Here and Now» under the German Occupation presents an analysis of diaries and school elaborations written in Polish by Jewish children during German Occupation . A Literary Return to Childhood during the Holocaust is dedicated to Polish retrospective literature, in which authors return to the experience of the Holocaust during their childhood years.
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2.3 Is this already the beginning of the end for me? the diary of Dawid Sierakowiak


In relating one’s turmoil, one attempts to endow it with the status of something; this means the status of something objective and in its objectivity something defined and limited. In relating I attempt to externalise what is in me: the turmoil that I am becomes expressed intellectually, defined and limited and presented to the other. The objectivity of something signifies that this something is placed in the world, therefore – this particular something is a counterpoint to subjectivity.254

Dawid, noting events that worry him, attempts in this manner to objectify his fears, gaining his own type of power over them. In the opinion of Pawluczuk, this is a means of purging oneself of turmoil. Its externalisation means that the subject ceases to be identified with it and liberates itself accordingly. This is, however, not all. ← 107 | 108 →

Speaking of one’s turmoil is a means of transgressing one’s own individuality, which in the language of psychology can be termed as the building of certain ties, breaking out of isolation, in the context of phenomenology though – ‘a particular catharsis through which the unity of the living transcendental ego, which is an inter-subjective truth, justice and a good’.255 The keeping of a diary during the Occupation was for Dawid and many of his peers one of the few means of coming to terms with fear and a sense of isolation.

On the basis of the boy’s diary it can be seen how together with the course of time,...

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