Adam Czerniaków


Born: November 30th, 1880 in Warsaw, Poland
Died: July 23rd, 1942 at Warsaw Ghetto
Career: Politician, Teacher, Judenrat Chairman of Warsaw Ghetto
Diary Title: The Warsaw Diary of Adam Czerniaków

“Sturmbannfuehrer Höfle (Beauftragter [plenipotentiary] in charge of deportation) asked me into his office and informed me that for the time being my wife was free, but if the deportation were impeded in any way, she would be the first one to be shot as a hostage.”

– Adam Czerniaków [1]

Adam Czerniaków was the Judenrat Chairman of the Warsaw Ghetto. Prior to this position, Czerniaków served as a politician in Warsaw and was a teacher.

Czerniaków’s diary is particularly difficult to read as he addresses the growing issues of the Warsaw Ghetto – issues which would ultimately lead to his suicide. The Nazi regime demanded the Czerniaków prepare a deportation of Jewish people, and his last entry, which can be read above, displays how the Nazi regime handled resistance to their orders. Given Czerniaków’s role in the Warsaw Ghetto, a lot of the day-to-day living conditions were placed on him. Every decision he made impacted the hundreds of thousands of Jews being kept inside of the Ghetto walls.

Czerniaków’s diary serves as important testimony as to the conditions inside of the Ghetto as well as to the length the Nazi regime would go to achieve their goals. The environment in the Warsaw Ghetto was depleted, and the people around the Ghetto acted often deplorably. Czerniaków wrote:

“In the afternoon Polish urchins [keep] throwing stones over the little wall to Chlodna Street. Ever since we removed the bricks and stones from the middle of Chlodna Street, they have not got much ammunition left.”

– Adam Czerniaków [1]

Czerniaków uses his diary as a way to express the immense guilt and burden that he carries with him. Such feelings would be considered weakness in the eyes of the Nazi regime, and he was not permitted to have second thoughts about Nazi orders. Czerniaków writes:

“At 8 in the morning I went to the little square at Ceglana Street to see about 800 deportees from Rawa Mazowiecka and surroundings, who were brought there during the night. Small children, babies, women. The sight would break my heart, had it not been hardened by 3 years of misery.”

– Adam Czerniaków [1]


[1] Adam Czerniaków edited by Raul Hilberg, Stanislaw Staron, and Josef Kermisz. The Warsaw Diary of Adam Czerniaków.