Shawn Harding
Founder of The Holocaust Blueprint

Several Blows Across the Face

Memorial Monday

Julius Feldman was a young man in Kraków whose life had been turned upside down like many Jews in Europe by the Nazi regime. Julius was an intelligent man, and he was handy. He would keep a diary of the actions that occurred in the ghetto, and his diary reveals some of the cruelties that the Jewish people in Kraków faced.

Julius speaks about an event that occurred with his father, and although this event ended with his father’s return, it is the journey that is significant. Julius wrote this of this event with his father:

He began telling us what it had really been like. He had gone to Franciszkanska Street and they ordered him to wait over five hours until a clerk came. At last, the clerk arrived. After writing his report, he did not know what to do about the whole matter so he sent father to Pomorska Street under the escort of a German policeman. This guard behaved very badly along the way, telling father to run or walk faster, which was hard for him to do at his age. Once there, the guard turned him over to the sentry. He received several blows across the face and a couple of kicks. They finally handed him over to Mr. K, the clerk for Jewish affairs… Since it was already evening they sent Father to Montelupich prison… They gave father a letter in place of his pass and a letter to the OD saying a suitable apartment was to be found in the ghetto within 24 hours, and that we were to be moved there… We had to move. [1]

This event depicts a commonality for Jews under Nazi occupation. Cruelty and hatred were a common trait for the Nazi captors as they instilled fear and chaos forthese innocent Jewish people. The Nazi regime had no restraint when it came to their cruel nature, and they wanted to create as much terror as they could for the Jewish people. Julius and his mother had no idea where Julius’ father was, and the Nazis kept him long enough to instill a certain fear among the family. When he finally returned, they were relieved that he was still alive. Julius’ father’s testimony is important to understanding the conditions that were faced even before they were placed in the ghetto. The quality of life for Jews had been depleted by the Nazi regime.

The environment in Kraków was particularly dreadful, and Julius’ words paint that picture well. Many people know of the Kraków Ghetto from the movie Schindler’s List, and they know of the Płaszów concentration camp and its commandant, Amon Göth. Göth was particularly known for his cruelty, and Julius records an interaction with Göth:

At the corner of Jozefinska Street and Krakusa Street, we were stopped by Mr. Goeth who caught the children and other people in our ranks who wanted to save themselves, and then he beat them and kicked them savagely. We did not know then exactly what lay in store for them and what sort of fate our ‘masters’ were preparing for them. But what can we do? We are defenceless and must do what they order us to do, accepting everything as being ‘for our own good’.[2]

The impact of the Nazi occupation had psychologically demolished the Jewish people, and it had weakened some of their resolve while bolstering others. Julius maintained a somewhat defiant tone in his writing, which can be seen in the aforementioned quote. Julius obeys the Nazis, but he had a certain disdain in his obedience. The unbelievable conditions that the Jewish people had to endure in these ghettos was enough to break any man, woman, and child, but Julius remained stalwart in the face of such an environment. His diary suggest that he knew what the future more than likely holds, but it is that certain defiance in his heart that gives hope that he will make it through this treacherous period.
The strength and courage of the Jewish people in this period is incomprehensible. In the Kraków Ghetto, for example, Jews were hiding and trying to survive out the Nazi occupation. Julius wrote about this:

Yesterday there was yet another hunt for people hiding in the ghetto. Around 100 more people were caught and they were taken somewhere this morning by those Ukrainians…[3]

Julius’ diary is a testament of a young man who faced treacherous odds, but his diary also documents the stark conditions in a way that allows for readers to understand the day-to-day struggle just to survive. It draws a picture for the reader of how impossible it seemed, yet Julius continues on.
Unfortunately, Julius Feldman’s diary ends abruptly on April 11th, 1943, his last written words being:

“And where is the Lord God who watches all of this and does not help us, who does not send any punishment for the criminals? Dear Lusia is in complete despair… How terribly I feel the lack of my beloved father, whom everyone knew”[4]

It is believed that Julius did not survive the Holocaust, and that he died at the age of 19.[5]

[1][2][3][4][5] Julius Feldman translated by William Brand – The Krakow Diary of Julius Feldman.

About the Author
Shawn Harding is the founder of The Holocaust Blueprint. Shawn works to create educational materials for free for users across the world to visualize the Holocaust and obtain information in relation to it.
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