The Info List - Adam Czerniaków

--- Advertisement ---

Adam Czerniaków (30 November 1880 – 23 July 1942) was a Polish-Jewish engineer and senator; head of the Warsaw Ghetto Jewish Council (Judenrat) during World War II. He committed suicide on 23 July 1942 by swallowing a cyanide pill, a day after the commencement of mass extermination of Jews known as the Grossaktion Warsaw.[1][2]


1 Life and career

1.1 The Warsaw Ghetto deportations 1.2 Diary of Adam Czerniaków

2 See also 3 References 4 Further reading

Life and career[edit] Czerniaków was born on 30 November 1880 in Warsaw, Poland (then part of the Russian Partition). He studied engineering in Warsaw and Dresden and taught in the Jewish community's vocational school in Warsaw. From 1927 to 1934 he served as member of the Warsaw Municipal Council, and in May 1930 was elected to the Polish Senate.[3] On 4 October 1939, a few days after Warsaw surrendered to Nazi Germany in the aftermath of the invasion of Poland, Czerniaków was made head of the 24 member Jewish Council (Judenrat), responsible for implementing German orders in the new Jewish Ghetto, which later, on November 15, 1940, was closed off to the outside world.[4] The Warsaw Ghetto deportations[edit]

Tenement house at 20 Chłodna Street in Warsaw, home to Adam Czerników from 13 December 1941 till his death.

Czerniaków's diary

As the German authorities began preparing for mass deportations of Jews from the Warsaw Ghetto to the newly built Treblinka extermination camp in July 1942, the Jewish Council was ordered to provide lists of Jews and maps of their residences. On 22 July 1942, the Judenrat received instructions from the SS that all Warsaw Jews were to be "resettled" to the East. Exceptions were made for Jews working in Nazi German factories, Jewish hospital staff, members of the Council and the Jewish Ghetto Police with their families. Over the course of the day, Czerniaków was able to obtain exemptions for a handful of individuals, including sanitation workers, husbands of women working in factories, and some vocational students. Despite all his pleading however he was unable to obtain an exemption for the orphans of the Janusz Korczak's orphanage and other ghetto orphanages. The orders further stated that the deportations would begin immediately at the rate of 6,000 people per day, to be supplied by the Jewish Council and rounded up by the Ghetto Police. Failure to comply would result in immediate execution of some one hundred hostages, including employees of the Council itself and Czerniaków's own wife.[4]

Jewish council building at 26/28 Grzybowska Street, Warsaw where Czerniaków committed suicide on 23 July 1942

Realizing that deportation meant death, Czerniaków went to plead for the orphans. When he failed, he returned to his office at 26/28 Grzybowska Street and took one of the cyanide capsules he had been keeping for such an occurrence. He left a suicide note to his wife, reading “They demand me to kill children of my nation with my own hands. I have nothing to do but to die,” and one to his fellow members of the Council, explaining: "I can no longer bear all this. My act will prove to everyone what is the right thing to do."[4] He was succeeded by his deputy Marek Lichtenbaum. Diary of Adam Czerniaków[edit] Czerniaków kept a diary from 6 September 1939 until the day of his death. It was published in 1979 and has been translated into English. His wife, Niunia (dr Felicja Czerniaków), survived the war and preserved his diaries; their only son, Jaś (Jan), fled to Soviet territory but did not survive the war.[5] Adam Czerniaków is interred in the Okopowa Street Jewish Cemetery in Warsaw.[4][6]

Adam Czerniaków's and his wife's grave at Jewish Cemetery in Warsaw

In the 2001 Warner Bros motion picture, Uprising, actor Donald Sutherland portrayed Adam Czerniaków. Excerpts of his diary are featured in the 2010 documentary film A Film Unfinished. The theatre company Voices of the Holocaust toured England during 2013-14 with the play Fragile Fire based on the Warsaw Ghetto uprising which featured scenes depicting Czerniaków. In 2015 the actor and writer Tim Dalgleish (formerly of Voices of the Holocaust) wrote a full-length play based on Czerniaków's journals called The Last Days of Adam: The true story of Adam Czerniaków. The play powerfully depicted Czerniaków as a conflicted character, torn between the need to ameliorate the worst excesses of the Nazi’s and the danger of being manipulated into becoming a collaborator. American composer Arnold Rosner's From the Diaries of Adam Czerniaków, Op. 82 is a half-hour classical music work composed in 1986 and scored for full orchestra and a narrator, who reads selected diary entries. The work was commissioned and later recorded by the conductor David Amos. According to the work’s only commercial recording, made in 2015, the English translation of Czerniaków's words was made by Raul Hilberg and Stanislaw Staron, in collaboration with Josef Kermisz of Yad Vashem in Jerusalem. See also[edit]

A Film Unfinished, documentary featuring Czerniaków's Warsaw Ghetto diary Julian Tuwim, a nephew of Adam Czerniaków Chaim Rumkowski, Jewish Council's head in the Łódź Ghetto


^ Israel Gutman, Resistance. Houghton Mifflin. p. 200. ^ Gutman, Resistance, p. 203. ^ Marcin Urynowicz, Adam Czerniaków 1880-1942. Prezes Getta Warszawskiego, Instytut Pamięci Narodowej, Warszawa 2009, p. 138 ^ a b c d Czerniaków's Biography, at www.diapozytyw.pl ^ "Adam Czerniakow and His Diary". Holocaust Research Project. Retrieved 2011-09-28.  ^ Okopowa street cemetery in Warsaw

Further reading[edit]

Hilberg, Raul (1999). The Warsaw Diary of Adam Czerniakow: Prelude to Doom. Chicago, IL: Ivan R. Dee. ISBN 1-56663-230-7.  Lichten, Joseph L. (1984). "Adam Czerniakow and His Times". The Polish Review. 29 (1 & 2): 71–89. JSTOR 25778050.  Dalgleish, Tim (2015) The Last Days of Adam: The True Story of Adam Czerniakow

v t e

The Holocaust in Poland

Main article The Holocaust Related articles by country Belarus Belgium Croatia Denmark Estonia France Latvia Lithuania Norway Russia Ukraine

v t e

Camps, ghettos and operations



Auschwitz-Birkenau Chełmno Majdanek Operation Reinhard death camps

Bełżec Sobibór Treblinka


Kraków-Płaszów Potulice Soldau Stutthof Szebnie Trawniki Warsaw

Mass shootings

AB Action Bronna Góra Erntefest Jedwabne Kielce cemetery Aktion Krakau Lviv pogroms Lwów professors Palmiry Sonderaktion Krakau Tannenberg Tykocin Bydgoszcz Wąsosz Bloody Sunday


List of 277 Jewish ghettos in German-occupied Poland (1939–1942) Będzin Białystok Brest Częstochowa Grodno Kielce Kraków Lwów Łódź Lubartów Lublin Międzyrzec Podlaski Mizocz Nowy Sącz Pińsk Radom Siedlce Sambor Słonim Sosnowiec Stanisławów Tarnopol Wilno Warsaw

Other atrocities

Action T4 Grossaktion Warsaw Human medical experimentation

v t e

Perpetrators, participants, organizations, and collaborators

Major perpetrators


Josef Bühler Eichmann Eicke Ludwig Fischer Hans Frank Globocnik Glücks Greiser Himmler Hermann Höfle Fritz Katzmann Wilhelm Koppe Friedrich-Wilhelm Krüger Kutschera Erwin Lambert Ernst Lerch Oswald Pohl Reinefarth Scherner Seyss-Inquart Sporrenberg Streckenbach Thomalla Otto Wächter Wisliceny

Camp command

Aumeier Baer Boger Braunsteiner Eberl Eupen Kurt Franz Karl Frenzel Karl Fritzsch Göth Grabner Hartjenstein Hering Höss Hössler Josef Kramer Liebehenschel Mandel Matthes Michel Möckel Mulka Johann Niemann Oberhauser Reichleitner Heinrich Schwarz Stangl Gustav Wagner Christian Wirth

Gas chamber executioners

Erich Bauer Bolender Hackenholt Klehr Hans Koch Herbert Lange Theuer


von Bodmann Clauberg Gebhardt Fritz Klein Mengele Horst Schumann Trzebinski Eduard Wirths

Ghetto command

Auerswald Biebow Blösche Bürkl Konrad Palfinger von Sammern-Frankenegg Stroop


Wolfgang Birkner Blobel Felix Landau Schaper Schöngarth von Woyrsch


Camp guards

Juana Bormann Danz Demjanjuk Margot Dreschel Kurt Gerstein Grese Höcker Kaduk Kollmer Muhsfeldt Orlowski Volkenrath

By camp

Sobibór Treblinka


Einsatzgruppen (SS) Ordnungspolizei (Orpo battalions) WVHA RKFDV VoMi General Government Hotel Polski



Belarusian Auxiliary Police BKA battalions Brigade Siegling Black Cats Central Rada


Jewish Ghetto Police Żagiew ("Torch Guard") Group 13 Kapos Judenräte


Waffen-SS "RONA" Waffen-SS "Russland" Ostlegionen, Bataillone (Cossack Division, Russian "ROA")


Ukrainian Auxiliary Police SS Galizien Ukrainian Liberation Army Schutzmannschaft (Battalion 118, Brigade Siegling, 30. Waffen SS Grenadier Division) Trawnikimänner

Other nationalities

Estonian Auxiliary Police Latvian Auxiliary Police (Arajs Kommando) Lithuanian Auxiliary Police Battalions (Schutzmannschaft, Ypatingasis būrys) Pieter Menten (Nederlandsche SS)

v t e

Resistance: Judenrat, victims, documentation and technical




Ghetto uprisings Białystok Częstochowa Sobibór Treblinka Warsaw Ghetto Uprising


Mordechai Anielewicz Icchak Cukierman Mordechai Tenenbaum Marek Edelman Leon Feldhendler Paweł Frenkiel Henryk Iwański Itzhak Katzenelson Michał Klepfisz Miles Lerman Alexander Pechersky Witold Pilecki Frumka Płotnicka Roza Robota Szmul Zygielbojm


Jewish Ghetto Police Adam Czerniaków Mordechai Chaim Rumkowski

Victim lists


Kraków Łódź Lvov (Lwów) Warsaw


Auschwitz Bełżec Gross-Rosen Izbica Majdanek Sobibór Soldau Stutthof Trawniki Treblinka


Nazi sources

Auschwitz Album Frank Memorandum Höcker Album Höfle Telegram Katzmann Report Korherr Report Nisko Plan Posen speeches Special Prosecution Book-Poland Stroop Report Wannsee Conference

Witness accounts

Graebe affidavit Gerstein Report Vrba–Wetzler report Witold's Report Sonderkommando photographs


Sonderaktion 1005

Technical and logistics

Identification in camps Gas chamber Gas van Holocaust train Human medical experimentation Zyklon B

v t e

Aftermath, trials and commemoration


Holocaust survivors Polish population transfers (1944–1946) Bricha Kielce pogrom Anti-Jewish violence, 1944–46 Ministry of Public Security


West German trials

Frankfurt Auschwitz trials Treblinka trials

Polish, East German, and Soviet trials

Auschwitz trial (Poland) Stutthof trials Extraordinary (Soviet) State Commission


Museum of the History of Polish Jews Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum Majdanek State Museum Sobibór Museum International Youth Meeting Center in Oświęcim/Auschwitz March of the Living

Righteous Among the Nations

Polish Righteous Among the Nations Rescue of Jews by Poles during the Holocaust Garden of the Righteous

Authority control

WorldCat Identities VIAF: 71410995 LCCN: n83195004 ISNI: 0000 0000 8150 8412 GND: 118825895 SUDOC: 028802594 BNF: cb120563431 (data) BIBSYS: 4076267