Ganiewski (Gancwol) Adolf (27 December 1870, Warsaw - 25 August 1942, Treblinka II extermination camp) - photographer, chronicler of Siedlce, social activist, philanthropist.
Adolf Hubert Gancwol was born on 27 December 1870 in Warsaw to the family of Maria Grundhand and Herman Gancwol. He conducted his photographic activities in Siedlce from 1895 to August 1942, when he was arrested and resettled to the ghetto. His photography workshop “A. Gancwol” was located at 29 Ogrodowa Street (now 33 Sienkiewicza Street).
Gancwol took an active part in the social, political and cultural life of Siedlce. He was a member of many organisations and associations during the partition period: The Mutual Credit Society (Polish: Towarzystwo Wzajemnego Kredytu), whose aim was to finance the development of trade, industry and farms, and the photographic section of the Polish Landscape Association (Polish: Polskie Towarzystwo Krajoznawcze, established in 1908, and Koło Przyjaciół Akademika Polskiego.
In 1913, he initiated (writing to Głos Podlasia newspaper) the creation of the Stanisław Sunderland Scholarship at the T. Radlinski Podlasie Gymnasium (Polish: Gimnazjum Podlaskim im. T. Radlińskiego) - he paid the first 10 roubles for this purpose; however, the initiative was blocked by the tsarist authorities, and Gancwol himself, together with the editor of the newspaper, was fined 25 roubles with the possibility of being converted into a two-week arrest[1.1].
After the outbreak of the First World War, he was active in the Civic Committee (Polish: Komitet Obywatelski), which dealt with aid and supplies for the town. In 1917, he stood for election as a councillor to the Town Council.
In 1925[1.2] or 1928[1.3] Adolf Gancwol changed his surname to Ganiewski and married again – with Lucyna Emilia from the house of Gebel. His first wife was Leokadia Gancwolowa. According to the sources mentioned, it was also during this period that he changed his religion from Mosaic to Evangelical. In the publication entitled Neofici polscy, materyały historyczne[1.4], however, we find information that "Gancwol (Ganzwohl) Adolf Hubert, owner of a photographic shop in Siedlce, aged 33, son of photographer Herman Ganzwol" changed his religion to Augsburg-Reformed (Calvinist) in 1903".
Until 1930, Ganiewski served as the manager of the world cinema in Siedlce, located at 9 Nowa Street (Polish: ul. Nowa 9), in a tenement house owned by Herszka, Chaim and Abrama Kapłan. It was the only cinema in Siedlce screening films for children. Ganiewski allowed the poorest orphans to watch cartoons free of charge.
In 1933, he was a member of the Podlasie District Committee of the Polish Red Cross. At the beginning of the German occupation in 1939, he funded a machine gun "so that the Polish army would have a weapon"[[ref:|Wspomnienia wnuka Jana Galinowskiego, quoted: Kordaczuk S., Siedlecki fotograf Adolf (Gancwol) Ganiewski 1870-1942, Siedlce 2009, p.38]].
After the outbreak of the Second World War, he also financially supported a field kitchen run by Jewish youths for the benefit of starving war victims.
In March 1942, he was arrested by the Germans and resettled in the closed ghetto created on 2 August 1941. He lived with a dentist named Gielbfisz. He also spent some time in the Warsaw Ghetto. He rejected offers to help him escape and hide; he did not want to expose others to repression.
On 24 August 1942, during the liquidation of the Siedlce ghetto, he was deported by the Germans to the extermination camp in Treblinka and murdered the next day. On 26 August 1942, his wife Emila Ganiewska was shot dead by a German officer in the woods near the camp during her attempt to save her husband.
The Regional Museum in Siedlce keeps the photographic legacy of Adolf (Gancwol) of Ganiewski.
One street in Siedlce is named after Gancwol.
Read more at:
- Kordaczuk S., Siedlecki fotograf Adolf (Gancwol) Ganiewski 1870-1942, Siedlce 2009
- Kopówka E., Żydzi w Siedlcach 1850-1945, Siedlce 2009