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The Outbreak of War

With the war on the way both Polish and Jewish men had to leave their families to join the army. Victor, the eldest brother of Eva Sztarkman was called up, as was Samuel Flaumenbaum and Pinchas Frimerman. Pinchas recalls that his departure from home "was like a funeral […] they all cried".

View the interviews with Samuel Flaumenbaum and Pinchas Frimerman.

The sense of insecurity and fear was growing among Poles and Jews alike. Some of the people in Bodzentyn may have heard Hitler's speeches over the radio owned by the Szachter family. It was kept on the balcony of their house, and those in earshot could hear the broadcasts from there. Even so, Rachell Szachter says that she felt secure enough believing her parents would "fix things" when the war broke out. Eva Sztarkman also recalls that at first people did not find the occupation so alarming: "We were scared; all the Jews were scared because we heard what he [Hitler] was doing with the Jews. Just when they [German troops] [first] came in [to Bodzentyn] they did not harm the Jews; then we were happy." Rachel Saphir-Einesman also remembers that her father, a veteran of World War I, found it hard to believe that the Germans who had been "friendly people" should turn against the Jews.

It was not until March 1940 — more than half a year after the outbreak of the war — that Dawid first attempted to chronicle his experiences. Posted on a storefront in Krajno there is a notice that catches his attention: Jews are no longer allowed to travel on vehicles. Some months later, on 1 September — on the first anniversary of the outbreak of war — Dawid recalls the suffering that people have already experienced and how much everyone has gone through in such a short time.

Also, Dawid writes that so many people, including those in his own family, have become "utterly unemployed". They are running out of stock—merchandise and food. In the same fashion, Eva Sztarkman remarks that her family couldn't do any business since the time the Germans occupied her hometown. Indeed making a living was becoming increasingly difficult. Goldie Szachter recounts how the family mill was confiscated by the occupation government in the closing months of 1940 and handed over to a Volksdeutsch, a German living in Poland, who had moved into Bodzentyn and been elevated to the position of commissar. On 4 November that same year the Banking co-operative of Bodzentyn (Bank spółdzielczy) excluded all of its Jewish clients and closed their accounts.

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