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As chairman of the Jewish council, Czerniaków had to administer the soon-to-be established ghetto and to implement German orders.
On November 23, 1939, German civilian occupation authorities required Warsaw's Jews to identify themselves by wearing white armbands with a blue Star of David.
On April 19, 1943, a new SS and police force appeared outside the ghetto walls, intending to liquidate the ghetto and deport the remaining inhabitants to the forced labor camps in Lublin district.
The ghetto inhabitants offered organized resistance in the first days of the operation, inflicting casualties on the well-armed and equipped SS and police units.
Czerniaków wrote in his diary entry for May 8, 1941: “Children starving to death.” Between 1940 and mid-1942, 83,000 Jews died of starvation and disease.
Widespread smuggling of food and medicines into the ghetto supplemented the miserable official allotments and kept the death rate from increasing still further.
The Warsaw Jewish community was the largest in both Poland and Europe, and was the second largest in the world, second only to New York City.
Following the German invasion of Poland on September 1, 1939, Warsaw suffered heavy air attacks and artillery bombardment.
This time, however, many of the Jews, understandably believing that the SS and police would deport them to the Treblinka killing center, resisted deportation, some of them using small arms smuggled into the ghetto.