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The Warsaw Ghetto: Diary of Adam Czerniakow


Adam Czerniakow was the Chairman of the Judenrat in the Warsaw Ghetto.

January 7, 1942

The Community in the morning. To Auerswald afterwards. I suggested that he approach the higher authorities and request the release of the condemned men [in the Jewish prison]. It would be recompense for the furs that were supplied. I emphasized that I had asked for an additional food ration on those grounds, but that I would rather do without the food if there were a chance of saving so many people. I added that ordinarily the chain of official command runs from the Commissar to the Governor and from him to the Governor General. The Commissar replied that only the governor had the authority to order persons released. I therefore asked him in the name of humanity he submit a suitable proposal that he would raise the matter of those condemned with the Governor.

I read the following in Zeromski’s "Popioly."* "Have not I too under my command ruffians, strong-arm men and murderers? And still I watch over them and prize them, for they know more than others...they are the very ones able to rescue us from the danger in case of attack." These were the words of Captain Wyganowski.

In the afternoon three men of the Schutzpolizei (Police) appeared in my office, headed by a Lieutenant of the Gettowache (Ghetto Patrol), with machine-guns at the ready. They asked whether I was the person who had telephoned to them about an alleged attack by Poles on Jews in the ghetto. I told them that I knew nothing about it.

It is impossible to buy a calendar either in the ghetto or outside. I have been obliged to make a calendar for myself.

May 15, 1942

The Community in the morning. At home we expected the film crew at 8:30.** I asked them to hire some men and women for the film, to play parts in front of the camera.

They came at 8:45 and went on shooting until 12:30. They hung a signboard on the door with some inscription on it. They brought two women and some kind of "lover" to the apartment. Also an elderly Jew. They filmed a scene.

In town the rumors about deportations continue. People speak of tens of thousands. To work according to plan under such conditions is remarkable. Nevertheless we do the job day by day. I always go back to what Dickens wrote: "A watch is not wound with tears."

In the afternoon the film people took pictures in the bedroom of the neighbors, the Zabludowski family. They brought in some woman who made up her face in front of the mirror.

...While they were making the film in my home they picked up an old Jew with a fine beard in the street. He sat in my apartment for several hours, but in the end they made no use of his photogenic qualities. I can just imagine what happened when he got home and tried to explain to his wife that he had earned no money because he had spent three hours being a "star"....

Sources: Yad Vashem

Excerpted from A. Czerniakow, Yoman Getto Varsha ("Warsaw Ghetto Diary") – September 6, 1939-July 23, 1942, edited by N. Blumental, A. Tartakower, N. Eck, J. Kermish, Jerusalem, 19592, pp. 257, 297-298. (English version: The Warsaw Diary of Adam Czerniakow, edited by R. Hilberg, S. Staron, J. Kermish, New York, 1979.)* Popioly – "Ashes."
** The reference is to a German film crew that arrived in Warsaw to make a film of the ghetto.