Adam Czerniaków was born to a Jewish family in Warsaw, Poland (then part of the Russian Empire). He studied chemistry at Warsaw Polytechnic and engineering in Dresden, and taught in the vocational school of the Jewish community in Warsaw. From 1927 to 1934, he served as a member of the Warsaw Municipal Council, and in 1931 was elected to the Polish Senate. Before the outbreak of World War II, he was nominated to membership on the Jewish Community Council as a representative of the Jewish craftsmen. After Nazi Germany invaded his homeland in 1939, Czerniaków was ordered to establish and assume leadership of a Judenrat, which was held responsible for implementing German orders in the Jewish Ghetto. In July 1942, the Judenrat was ordered to provide lists of all the Jews in the Ghetto and maps of their residences. As the Nazis began rounding up Jews for deportation to extermination or forced labor, Czerniaków managed to obtain exemptions for a handful of people. Despite his pleading, however, he was unable to save the orphanage children. He returned to his office and committed suicide with a cyanide capsule. The diary that he kept from 1939 until the day of his death was preserved by his wife Niunia Czerniakówa and eventually published in 1979.