Abraham Gancwajch

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Abraham Gancwajch
Abraham Gancwajch
Born 1902
Died 1943
Nationality Polish
Occupation Entrepreneur
Known for Warsaw Ghetto Group 13

Abraham Gancwajch (1902 — possibly killed in 1943, Warsaw)[1] was a prominent Nazi collaborator in the Warsaw Ghetto during the occupation of Poland in World War II, and a Jewish "kingpin" of the ghetto underworld.[2] Opinions about Gancwajch's activities in the ghetto are controversial, although modern research concludes unanimously that he was an informer and collaborator motivated chiefly by personal interest.[3][4]


Gancwajch was born in Częstochowa, Poland.[4][5] As a youth, he apprenticed as a journalist and editor in Łódź,[4] and eventually left Poland for Vienna, Austria, where he worked as reporter on the Jewish affairs for the Gerechtigkeit (Justice) periodical edited by Irena Harand. He was expelled from Vienna around 1936–1938 and returned to Poland,[4] having gained his reputation as a teacher and a Zionist journalist with an oratorical skill.[3]

After the German invasion of Poland, he surfaced in Warsaw as a refugee from Łódź, and as a person with connections to Sicherheitsdienst (SD).[4] He first became a Nazi collaborator as a leader of the Hashomer Hatzair, delivering weekly intelligence reports to the Germans.[6] In December 1940 he founded the Group 13 network, a Jewish Nazi collaborationist organization in Warsaw Ghetto, described by Gutman and Ringelblum as the "Jewish Gestapo".[3][4][7]

Gancwajch believed that the Germans would win the war and called on the Jews of Warsaw to serve them as the basic means of survival.[4][7] He preached collaboration with the German conquerors in a specially printed booklet which outraged the Ghetto residents.[3][4][8] He was also a proponent of the Nazi Madagascar Plan of creating an autonomous place of settlement for all Jews under the protection of the Third Reich in one of the overseas countries.[4] Adam Czerniaków, whom Gancwajch attempted to usurp as the head of the Judenrat[3][9] mentioned him in his diary as "a despicable, ugly creature".[10] Janusz Korczak who ran an orphanage in the ghetto when asked why he was dealing with him replied "I will see the devil himself to save my children".[2]

In the ghetto he lived a lavish life, collecting hefty sums from others by various means.[3] On the other hand, in order to support appearances he helped the poor and the artists; however all of his initiatives became corrupted — for example he set up a hospital with ambulances, but quickly the network became used primarily for smuggling by the Group 13, which also by the time became a racketeering network (officially it was supposed to combat the black market in the ghetto).[3]

After most of the Group 13 was eliminated by the Germans in 1942, Gancwajch reemerged outside the ghetto on the Aryan side in Warsaw,[3] where he and other members of his group, pretending to be Jewish underground fighters, were hunting for Poles hiding or otherwise supporting the Jews. He was also the leader of the infamous Żagiew, a Gestapo-sponsored Jewish organization.[11] He is also known to have tried to sabotage attempts at the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising.[3] The Jewish Combat Organization sentenced him to death but were never able to execute him. His further fate remains unknown to this day.[4] According to one record, he was killed along with his wife and son in Warsaw, perhaps around early spring 1943.[7]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Antwerp Immigration record. "Abraham Gancwajch 1916–1930". Birth Year: 1902. Częstochowa, Poland. File Number: 171785. Antwerpen, Belgium – via FamilySearch 2014. 
  2. ^ a b Lawrence Baron (2005). Projecting the Holocaust into the Present: The Changing Focus of Contemporary Holocaust Cinema. Rowman & Littlefield. p. 83. ISBN 0-7425-4333-1 – via Google Print. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i Itamar Levin, Walls Around: The Plunder of Warsaw Jewry During World War II and Its Aftermath, Greenwood Publishing Group, 2004, ISBN 0-275-97649-1, Google Print, pp. 94–98.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Warsaw Ghetto Database. at Warszawa.Getto.pl; Note 1, 3, 4, 11, 13. Gancwajch brother-in-law was Moshe Merin, see: Note 4 and Zimbio: The "13"; the Head of the Sosnowiec and Zaglebie Judenrats who also followed the same policy of "serving" the Germans. Merin was deported to Auschwitz.
  5. ^ see for confiriming report from Czestochowa
  6. ^ W. D. Rubinstein, The Left, the Right, and the Jews, Universe Books, 1982, ISBN 0-87663-400-5, Google Print, p. 136.
  7. ^ a b c Richard L. Rubenstein, John K. Roth, Approaches to Auschwitz: The Holocaust and Its Legacy, Westminster John Knox Press, 2003, ISBN 0-664-22353-2, Google Print, p. 413.
  8. ^ "All Are Equal." Janusz Korczak biography at Korczak.com
  9. ^ Yehuda Bauer, Jews for Sale?: Nazi-Jewish Negotiations, 1933–1945, Yale University Press, 1994, ISBN 0-300-06852-2, Google Print, p. 70.
  10. ^ Hilberg, Raul (1999). The Warsaw Diary of Adam Czerniakow: Prelude to Doom. Ivan R. Dee. ISBN 1-56663-230-7. 
  11. ^ Tadeusz Piotrowski, Poland's Holocaust: Ethnic Strife, Collaboration with Occupying Forces and Genocide in the Second Republic, 1918–1947, McFarland 1998, ISBN 0-7864-0371-3, Google Print, p. 66.

External links[edit]