Elsa Binder's Diary Entry on the Jewish Council in the Stanisławów Ghetto, December 24, 1941

Entry from the diary of Elsa Binder from December 24, 1941, in which she describes the Jewish Council in the Stanisławów ghetto.

December 24, 1941

Yesterday’s newspaper said that the Great Leader [Hitler] assumed command of the army. Jews are therefore drawing the most optimistic and far-reaching conclusions. Seeing his imminent defeat and a rapid withdrawal of his undefeated army, Hitler decided to seize the reins in one hand and cheer up his soldiers. Yesterday, on December 23 (7 P.M.), they shut us up in the ghetto. Maybe because it had been anticipated or maybe because of other reasons—I’ll get to that in a minute—this critical event didn’t surprise anybody. [. . .]

So what is the position of the highly esteemed Jewish Council and the even more esteemed councilmen, aldermen, and that whole coterie? The council consists of crooks and noisy windbags who from the very beginning smelled a good deal and flocked there together with their families and friends. Today the council is recruited from the big businessmen, the merchants, and the cunning representatives of all strata, together with their children and grandchildren. The council’s offices are filled to overflowing with boys and pretty girls; both apparently treat their jobs as a fashion show. Every day they show up in a new, dazzling hairstyle or dress. What do the Germans think when they visit the council? They look at the nice, rosy faces, at the heads adorned with curly locks, at the manicured fingers, and at the looks full of satisfaction with the world around them. In any event, they come to the conclusion that our backs are very flexible and our souls insensitive. And who knows? If it’s this way, they think, one more kick won’t hurt. Will a new mass murder hurt? The survivors will keep smiling anyway.

From time to time we receive food supplies. The food mysteriously disappears the way camphor vaporizes; there must be some camphor in it. The members of the Jewish Council live very well. Today, while certain kinds of people die of starvation and cold, others enjoy marzipan, sitting by their warm stoves. I don’t exaggerate! Not even a bit! Some say that people unite in misery. Probably , but not Jews. They know (some, not all of them) how to stuff themselves on the backs of their countrymen. [. . .]1


  • 1 : Alexandra Zapruder, ed., Salvaged Pages: Young Writers' Diaries of the Holocaust, 2nd edition (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2015) 307–08.


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