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Chaim Kaplan on the Warsaw Judenrat

(April 23, 1941)

The Community Council – the Judenrat, in the language of the Occupying Power – is an abomination in the eyes of the Warsaw Community. When the Council is so much as mentioned, everyone’s blood begins to boil. If it were not for fear of the Authorities there would be bloodshed. I am certain that at the first opportunity, if we are only freed a little from the Nazi tutelage, we will fall upon Grzybowska 26,* and pour out our fury upon it, and not leave one stone standing upon another. It was not elected by the Community, but reached its position of power through appointment and with the support of the Nazi Authorities, and as a result of the general situation. In accordance with its system, the Authorities gave the Council autonomous rights, not only in cultural matters but also in official affairs. Starzynski appointed Czerniakow, whom nobody had known prior to this appointment. There were thousands like him... Everything depended on his taste and on his personal judgment concerning every individual, and he took everything he could lay his hands on. According to rumor, the President is a decent man. But the people around him are the dregs of humanity. There are two or three exceptions, who have no influence, like Prof. M. Balaban** and A. Wolfowicz; all the rest are the scum of the [Jewish] public. I shall not list their names because they are not worthy of having their names recorded officially in the history of the Jewish Community of Warsaw. They are known as scoundrels and corrupt persons, who did not avoid ugly dealings even in the period before the war. The Community has become for them a milch-cow and an unending opportunity to take bribes, to rob the poor and crush the oppressed. Everything is done in the name of the President. But in truth, everything is done without his knowledge and even without his consent, and perhaps also against his decisions and wishes....

* This was the house where the Warsaw Jewish Community Council had its offices before the war, and the Judenrat during the war.

** Meir Balaban, the historian of Polish Jewry. He was for a short time a member of the first Judenrat in the Warsaw ghetto.

Sources: Kaplan's diary, Moreshet Archives, D.2.138.