The time is now 4 PM. The cannon fire hasn't ceased for the last 20 hours. Artillery shells explode every second, and the shrapnel falls like a hail of steel. Whistling, bombardments, the noise of machine guns and the thundering of the airplanes overhead reverberate in the air and increase our terror. Our ears and heads ache. We can't hear each other talk. Only boom boom boom! Another pillar of fire and smoke. Roofs are billowing smoke. A row of houses in the center of town is engulfed in flames. Suddenly, a terrible noise followed by groans and screams – houses have collapsed in the old city, and we run to save those who have been buried alive under the debris. Suddenly the skies darkened – a cloud of smoke descended on the city.
Mira Zabludowski wrote these words on 15 September 1939 in the diary she kept during the first months of occupation in Warsaw. Mira came to visit her parents, lawyer Dr. Simcha Zabludowski and his wife Elisheva, and was caught in the eye of the storm. In late November 1939, she managed to leave Poland and return to her home in Eretz Israel (Mandatory Palestine). Her parents were murdered in the Holocaust.
On 1 September 1939, Nazi Germany invaded neighboring Poland, and Poland ceased to exist. Central Poland became the Generalgouvernement, occupied territory under German civilian rule, western Poland was annexed to the German Reich while the eastern territories were occupied by the Soviet Union. At the same time that the Jews of Germany, Austria and Poland were being subjected to Nazi persecution and terror, anti-Jewish measures were instituted in other European countries allied with Nazi Germany.