August 12, 1939:
Today, Adolf Hitler unfortunately came to power. He has been around for a while now, influencing everyone and everything around me. I could get in so much trouble and possibly die if anyone finds this diary. I have learned so much about him through the comics I read, and I do not agree with his views. My life has been hard recently because everyone around me, including my friends and family, love him because they are brainwashed by the media. My parents think I love him but in reality I'm just trying to fit in with them and the rest of the ghetto I live in.
September 1, 1939:
Today at school there were five kids missing out of my class of eleven. The teacher told us they all went on vacation and would be back soon but the sadness in her eyes didn't say that. I knew something was wrong but I couldn't quite put the pieces together. Where did they go? My friend Luca says they have been taken away by the Nazi's to a concentration camp. I wish I didn't believe it, but I do. I haven't seen or heard a lot about the "camps" but I hear my ma and pa talk about it sometimes when they think I'm not listening.
Jewish children in the concentration camp, Auschwitz
November 21, 1939:
Late last night I woke up to the sound of loud military planes flying above. The whole house was shaking so I ran to my parents room where they assured me that everything would be okay. I knew it would but I just feel safer with them by my side. This has been a normal occurrence in ours lives for a few months now. I'm almost numb to the constant fighter planes flying above waking me in the middle of the night and the tanks that roam the streets with soldiers dressed in green following closely behind.
February 15, 1940:
Every since Hitler has come into power so many things have changed. I have started to wake up earlier so I can explore on my way to school. I live in the Warsaw ghetto so I have to ride my bike to school. I have lived in the ghetto ever since I was very young and I grew very close to many people here. Living in a ghetto, is like having your own family besides your ma, pa and siblings. On my way to school I always used to see my neighbors on the sidewalk but no one comes out anymore. So I spend my extra time in the morning on the hill by my house, looking out over the trees. Recently I have noticed that not many animals are present anymore. Their homes are filled with smoke. Looking out over the trees in the morning I see people in uniforms standing in formation as their names are called.
German soldiers lime the streets of the Warsaw Ghetto
May 22, 1940:
Today my pa presented me with a newly stitched green uniform. He told me that all the boys around me would be wearing this for now on until further notice. I already miss my old clothes that ma put together for me for my twelfth birthday. We are forced to stand up straight and stiff and on Thursday we are learning how to salute Hitler. I feel trapped. I am forced to act like a soldier that could be sent to war at any time even though I'm only twelve. We are taught that what Hitler is doing is perfect and we should glorify him, but is it really as great as everyone makes it out to be? I'm tired of this life. I just want to go back to playing kickback with my friends down the street and being able to ride by bike around town till it got dark.
July 16, 1940:
My old way of life still isn't the same, if anything, it's only gotten worse. Right now I have had to take time out of my day to help my pa build a bomb shelter. I can't concentrate in school anymore and I'm so behind. I am supposed to be doing my work at home but my pa is making me help him. I just wish this was over. Food is so scarce and I go many days just eating a small piece of bread to hold me over. I don't even understand why I have to help build the shelter. Pa knows I am weak and tired but he says we must do it for the family. There is no point of making it anyways. If an atomic bomb is dropped on us it will wipe out everything anyways. So even if we were to live through the initial bomb, we would die soon after because there would be no food or resources.
October 5, 1940:
I'm sitting in my room right now all alone. I can't think straight or feel emotion, I'm broken and speechless. As I was riding my bike home from school today, I rode up to the top of the hill to take in the views of the war-filled area. I felt extra curious today and I found a pathway leading through the woods. I followed it all the way to a barbwire fence. As I looked through the fence all I could see were men and boys in stripped uniforms working with wheelbarrows and digging holes. I couldn't believe my eyes. They barely looked like humans anymore, they were walking skeletons. Luca was right. The concentration camps really were real. I saw human homicide right before my eyes and I was short of breath and my palms started to sweat. I jumped on my bike and pedaled home as fast as I could, hoping no one would stop to chat with me or ask of a favor. Now here I sit, pouring my accounts onto these pages, not knowing what could come next.
Nazi Youth in their uniforms
December 22, 1940:
My dad left today. My mom was brave even though she was holding back tears. That could have been the last time I ever get to see my dad. I know the risks of the war but he reassured me that he would be okay. For the past two weeks, ever since he found out he was being recruited, he has been teaching me all about the plane he will be flying. It will be the Heinkel He 51. It is a biplane fighter-bomber that can float on water and drop bombs. I thought that was pretty cool and he even showed me how he will fly it. I sure am going to miss him.
January 30, 1941:
I'm scared to walk to school now. I'm weak and tired and I have no motivation to do anything. My heart aches constantly and no one, including me, ever smiles anymore. I'm depressed and I haven't seen my pa in almost a month. I can tell my ma is worried about him, but tells me I don't need worry about him. As thoughts flow through my head on my ride to school, I can't help but cry. Riding past the stores now I see swastikas hanging in the windows. I see swastikas painted on the locally owned stores now. It makes me so sad to see.
The Heinkel He 51 plans used by the Germans in World War II
Wrote & Edited by: Beth Obermark & Elizabeth Hellebusch