Disease and hunger

Litzmannstadt Getto 13 XII 1943
…What’s more, there is a new order by Biebow that those who will work 55 hours a week will receive a coupon (a half kilo of bread, 2 dkg of fat, 10 dkg of sausage). Passes are not being issued and people are speeding up production. This coupon will take away more than it will bring…

Oh! Oh, yes, we are collecting provisions for Dorka Zand. She is not well. [The family] is giving almost everything to their mother who is in the hospital. Probably she will need an operation …We’ll make sure that she gets her ration through the workshop.

Litzmannstadt Getto 27 XII 1943
…Those who had bajrat now get it only for one person. I wanted to get it yesterday but we were removed from the list. Maybe Estusia will arrange it … As for my cousins, I’d rather ignore them because it may all turn into lashon hara [gossip or slander] but I will write one thing: if we get a ration for five people, that’s fine, but if only for three or one, I have to be strong enough to refuse it, even if they offer me something. I have nothing against them but I don’t want anything, that’s it. Yesterday Chanusia collected the ration which was given by the Chairman —meat and sausage. She put a slice of sausage on Cipka’s bread and it happened that she had to leave. Before Cipka ate it, Estusia showed up and when she saw Cipka eating she asked, “Is it the old sausage?” “No, today Chanusia got a fresh one.” “She gave it to you?” asked Estusia. She said it so casually but I heard it well. I promised myself that I’d never, never, take anything from them. I can be that ambitious. When they (but not Chanusia) offer something which is theirs, they do it as if it were just an obligation, as if they had to. No, thanks … But enough of this. I didn’t even want to write about it…

Litzmannstadt Getto 14 I 1944
On Sunday my tooth was extracted. Horrible, the roots of this tooth were under a different tooth. I don’t want to describe it, but I’ll add that today (Friday) my face is swollen … Flu pervades the ghetto, wherever you go, flu is everywhere … in the workshops and offices there is nobody … a lot of sick leaves. (Mr. Zemel joked that he would place the sick leaves at the machines so they could continue production.) Mrs. Markus is sick, too, I don’t know exactly what’s wrong with her (Icykzon will come today), she has a high fever. That’s why Minia isn’t going to work today. Chajusia has the flu, Surcia’s mother, too … I’ll run out of pages to write down who is sick … It affects the assemblies … all of them. Last week I didn’t get any soup, although my I.D. card was stamped (other girls didn’t get the soup either). Every day we went to Żydowska Street. They were postponing it, and on Wednesday they announced that it wasn’t their responsibility. Sala Skórecka and I went to the Trade and Control Bureau (TCB) to see Perl (in the beginning I worked for him in the Central Accounting Office,29 but then he moved to the TCB).30 He said the inspection was coming …When I was there, I stopped by the Accounting Office. Only Rachelka Bejmówna was in the secretary’s office … the flu … Maryla Łucka and her father are sick, too. In Mrs. Lebenstein’s family everybody is sick except her; Samuelson is sick; Jankielewicz has replaced Berg because Berg is sick. Rundberg, half-sick, came in the afternoon…

Litzmannstadt Getto 17 I 1944
I’m cold and hungry. I’m cold not only because of the winter but because I lack inner warmth. I’m hungry not only because I have little food and can’t fill my stomach, but because I’m starved and thirsty, because I feel like a vast vacuum, and this place is cold and empty (hunger). Oh, to get warmer! … Yesterday in order to get our rations we had to bring our own bags (I was making them yesterday at Chajusia’s). They don’t give away the rations in tytkas [small stacks] any more. What’s more, we have to carry all of them a long way… 

Litzmannstadt Getto 25 I 1944
Right now Mija has just told me what happened at the school. Every day the kids from Group 6 collect potatoes from the soup and leave them in the office. It turned out that Mrs. Perlowa had been eating some of them. Hala, the one who collects the potatoes, found out. (Mrs. Perlowa! … I’d never believe it … who else is going to disappoint me? Oh, it’s terrible … hypocrisy, hypocrisy … It really hurts! … ) Hala (a kid) spread the rumor that Mrs. Perlowa was eating the potatoes. Yesterday there was a meeting regarding this matter and Hala was to be expelled from school. There will be some delegations [to appeal for her] … maybe Hala will stay after all…

Litzmannstadt Getto 16 II 1944
And … one secret … my cousins are almost out of marmalade and brown sugar, but Cipka and I still have quite a lot. This morning we were going to work (Cipka and I) and she told me that on Sunday when we went to get our rations, Chanusia said to Estusia that we’d finish our marmalade and sugar very quickly and they’d have to share theirs with us. Estusia replied, “I surely wouldn’t think otherwise.”

Stupid cousins, you were so wrong! I have my own satisfaction. I haven’t thought of being as “generous” as you! I don’t even think about it. Ha, ha, ha, at the bottom of my heart I’m sneering at them. Anyway, it’s not worth pondering over! Times are terrible … many people have left … there is hunger … but I’ve already written about it. I feel something, but I can’t express it, though I’d like to. I’d like to help everybody … I’d like to be helpful … I’d like to be useful! I’m full of these inexpressible emotions. I don’t know … it’s connected with my longing and I’m so sad. But I can’t be overwhelmed by sadness, because I know that nothing good will come out of it. I’m against evil … I want kindness! I do want it! There is a saying, “Where there’s a will, there’s a way,” but it doesn’t apply in my case … because I want to do so much … so much, but what can I do? Little, very little, almost nothing…

Litzmannstadt Getto 21 III 1944
Because of the starvation in the ghetto people steal food from other people when they are at work, or when they aren’t at home. It happens in our place, too. Unfortunately. We thought we had gotten rid of it then, but we suspect it’s our tenants because “that person” is working today in the morning. Today I stayed at home, just in case somebody would come (yesterday we noticed that things were missing). I was in bed and every single murmur made my heart beat faster. I was imagining various things (I must admit that I was also full of anticipation), but nobody showed up. This doesn’t mean, however, that nobody will show up. Tomorrow, probably, I’ll stay at home again, maybe I’ll get a doctor’s note … but … mum’s the word! 

I have to admit we suspect one person (right now it doesn’t matter whom). Oh, suspicions are terrible. A suspicion … a disappointment. Oh, awful things. Today in bed I had to be quiet, I couldn’t move. I couldn’t read all the time so I was musing. When I thought that it was murder—worse: a slow killing of somebody, making him die slowly—when I thought about it, I was so furious at “him” or “her” that if they had been at hand, I’d tear them into pieces. Animal instincts … God! God! What happened? How can we live in this morass, this mud, in this air filled with infectious germs. I’ve wondered many a time whether life was worth living.

Litzmannstadt Getto 22 III 1944
I’m losing my strength (not necessarily my inner strength), but that’s enough. I’m so weak that sometimes I don’t feel any hunger. It’s awful (hunger used to have a bad effect on me). A skirt that was made for me at the beginning of the course (a few months ago) is hanging loose on me. I don’t exaggerate … what will happen? What will happen?

Litzmannstadt Getto 30 III 1944
Yesterday after I ate the soup, I definitely got a fever. (…) After work I decided to check my temperature. If I had a fever, I’d go home without any “but,” although it would be good if I didn’t. […] I went down to see a doctor and … I almost burst out in laughter. He prescribed some pain relievers, but he didn’t have a thermometer. At last at the committee for the sick I checked the temperature, but it was 38.5 C [101.3F]. It has dropped so much in a few hours!