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The Warsaw Ghetto: Diary of Avraham Levin

(June 5, 1942)

"...One of the most surprising side-effects of this war is the clinging to life, the almost total absence of suicides. People die in great numbers of starvation, the typhus epidemic or dysentery, they are tortured and murdered by the Germans in great numbers, but they do not escape from life by their own desire. On the contrary, they are tied to life by all their senses, they want to live at any price and to survive the war. The tensions of this historic world conflict are so great that all wish to see the outcome of the gigantic struggle and the new regime in the world, the small and the great, old men and boys. The old have just one wish: the privilege of seeing the end and surviving Hitler.

I know a Jew who is all old age. He is certainly about 80. Last winter a great tragedy befell the old man. He had an only son who was about 52. The son died of typhus. He has no other children. And the son died. He did not marry a second time and lived with his son. A few days ago I visited the old man. When I left – his mind is still entirely clear – he burst out crying and said: "I want to see the end of the war, even if I live only another half an hour!"

Why should the old man wish so much to stay alive? There it is: even he wants to live, "if only half an hour" after the last shot is fired. This is the burning desire of all the Jews."

Sources:Yad Vashem

Extracted from A. Levin, Mi-Pinkaso shel ha-More mi-Yehudiya ("From the Notebook of the Teacher from Yehudiya"), Beit Lohamei ha-Geta’ot, 1969, p. 70.