August 15, 1942: Eliasz Gutkowski sends his son to the Czerniaków farm

Marek Edelman, Icchak Cukierman and Stefan Grajek, Warsaw 1945–1946, the JHI collection

August 15, 1942 was the 25th day of the great deportation from the Warsaw ghetto. Eliasz Gutkowski, the second secretary of the Oneg Szabat group, decided to hide his son on a farm in the Czerniaków suburb of Warsaw. It was an exceptionally friendly place for Jews from the Warsaw ghetto. Icchak Cukierman recalls.

During the great deportation action, Gutkowski sought shelter in a timber szop (pronounced ‘shop’, a German controlled forced labor facility) run by Aleksander Landau, an associate of ‘Oneg Szabat’, at Gęsia 30 street. On August 6, Menachem Mendel Kon, the treasurer of Oneg Szabat, wrote about his efforts to be admitted to the shop:

There is a terrible panic in the courtyard. First of all, the children are being hid, as the Nazi murderers hunt especially for them. I decide not to go to the basement. I will not occupy a place where you can hide a few more children. Children have priority to be saved, I think. I run to look for another hiding place. I run at Gęsia 30 street, where my friend L’s [Aleksander Landau’s] carpentry is located.

On the spot, I meet hundreds of people, among whom I meet many of my friends – they seek shelter so that wild Nazi animals would not find them. No!! There is no place for me there – I can see. My yesterday’s friends look at me in some strange, piercing way, exactly as if I wanted to force my way into their ‘settlement zone’, where only they have the right to stay[1].

The Jews were not safe even in the workplace serving the German army. Therefore, on August 15, Gutkowski decided to send his son, Gabriel-Zeew, away from the ghetto. This episode is mentioned in Abraham Lewin’s diary:

The shooting started at half past nine in the evening. In the street – victims. Continuous traffic to and from Pawiak [prison] throughout the night. Gutkowski sends his only child (three and a half years old) to the cemetery; from there they are to take the boy to Czerniaków[2].

Gabriel-Zeev Gutkowski, son of Eliasz and Luba

This event was also described by Icchak Cukierman, who from 28 July belonged to the staff of the Jewish Combat Organization:

(…) on a farm in Czerniaków we saved several dozen people who were not members of the [Jewish Combat Organization] movement. One of the rescued was Gabriel Zeew, the son of our friend Eliahu Gutkowski. One day, during the great action in the ghetto, Eliahu came to us, completely helpless: he had only one son, three years old. We took the child to Czerniaków and saved him [3].

The farm that Cukierman writes about belonged to Wojciech Zatwarnicki. Before the war, Zatwarnicki conducted an innovative plant breeding activity there. From 1940, he allowed Jews to work there. Cukierman recalled:

He was a 65-year-old silver-haired old man (anyone who was a few years older than me, I considered an old man at the time). (…) We agreed that we would, of course, be subject to control and supervision during our work. But after working hours, we demanded autonomy and the right – if we wanted – to dance and learn. In other words, complete freedom

Zatwarnicki’s farm belonged to the farms supplying the Warsaw ghetto with food – thanks to it, many Jews were kept alive. The owner ‘met all the conditions, all the time.’ [5] In the summer, up to 80 people worked for him on the orders of Jewish organizations.

The atmosphere on the farm was pleasant, far from a work camp atmosphere. The relations were correct. I have stayed there several times. I don’t remember any more if there were huts or barracks, but there were a lot of beds and multi-storey bunks. (…) you had the impression that you were in a pre-war training kibbutz [6].

House at Bernardyńska 1 street, Warsaw. Source: www.dwory.net

It was on Zatwarnicki’s farm, according to Cukierman, that a decision was made about armed resistance in the ghetto:

At that time, there was a discussion among us: defend the ghetto or take up guerrilla fighting? finally the decision was made to defend the ghetto. From July to September 1942, the Germans deported hundreds of thousands of Jews from the ghetto. We wanted to save the people who were to take part in the uprising, and we did not know what to do with them in Warsaw (we also did not have enough weapons; I will not go into details now). We sent them to Czerniaków, where they remained during the deportation period. We set up the first JCO base in Czerniaków [7].

It was also there that the first JCO fighter prepared for battle and learned to shoot, with the quiet consent of the property owner. 

The farm of Wojciech Zatwarnicki still stands today near the shore of Jeziorko Czerniakowskie [Czerniakowskie lake], at Bernardyńska 1 street. On the one side, the blocks of the 1970s Bernardyńska neighborhood tower over it, on the other, in the distance, one can see the chimneys of the heat and power plant. 

If Zatwarnicki or his administrator, a Volksdeutsche, wanted to harm us, they had thousands of opportunities to do so. It was impossible not to notice the girls arriving at night and leaving the farm at dawn; impossible that they did not realize what was happening there. And yet there was not a single denunciation, not even an anti-Semitic remark[8].

Read more about Eliasz Gutkowski

Written and translated by Przemysław Batorski
Footnotes:
[1] Archiwum Ringelbluma, vol 23, Dzienniki z getta warszawskiego, edited by Katarzyna Person, Zofia Trębacz, Michał Trębacz, transl. Sara Arm et al., Wydawnictwo ŻIH/Wydawnictwo UW, Warsaw 2015, p. 411. Simplified notation, added division into paragraphs for online publication.
[2] Abraham Lewin, Dziennik, transl. by Adam Rutkowski, Magdalena Siek, Gennady Kulikov, edited by Katarzyna Person, Wydawnictwo ŻIH, Warsaw 2015, p. 194.
[3] Icchak Cukierman, Nadmiar pamięci (Siedem owych lat). Wspomnienia 1939-1946, transl. by Zoja Perelmuter, edited by Marian Turski, foreword by Władysław Bartoszewski, Wydawnictwo Naukowe PWN, Warsaw 2000, p. 59.
[4] Ibid., p. 58.
[5] Ibid.
[6] Ibid.
[7] Ibid.
[8] Ibid., p. 59.
Bibliography:
Archiwum Ringelbluma, vol. 23, Dzienniki z getta warszawskiego, edited by Katarzyna Person, Zofia Trębacz, Michał Trębacz, transl. by Sara Arm et al., Wydawnictwo ŻIH/Wydawnictwo UW, Warsaw 2015.
Icchak Cukierman, Nadmiar pamięci (Siedem owych lat). Wspomnienia 1939-1946, transl. by Zoja Perelmuter, edited by Marian Turski, foreword by Władysław Bartoszewski, Wydawnictwo Naukowe PWN, Warsaw 2000.
Abraham Lewin, Dziennik, transl. by Adam Rutkowski, Magdalena Siek, Gennady Kulikov, edited by Katarzyna Person, Wydawnictwo ŻIH, Warsaw 2015.