Who Will Write Our History: Emanuel Ringelblum, the Warsaw Ghetto, and Oyneg Shabes Archive

by Samuel D. Kassow

Book, 2007



Call number

736 KAS



Bloomington : Indiana University Press, c2007.


In 1940, the historian Emanuel Ringelblum established a clandestine organization, code named Oyneg Shabes, in Nazi-occupied Warsaw to study and document all facets of Jewish life in wartime Poland and to compile an archive that would preserve this history for posterity. As the Final Solution unfolded, although decimated by murders and deportations, the group persevered in its work until the spring of 1943. Of its more than 60 members, only three survived. Ringelblum and his family perished in March 1944. But before he died, he managed to hide thousands of documents in milk cans and tin boxes. Searchers found two of these buried caches in 1946 and 1950. Who Will Write Our History tells the gripping story of Ringelblum and his determination to use historical scholarship and the collection of documents to resist Nazi oppression.… (more)

User reviews

LibraryThing member kaiser_matias
Kassow provided an interesting look at the Warsaw Ghetto, and the efforts of Emanuel Ringelblum, a Jewish historian, to chronicle what happened in it througout the Second World War through a collaboration with other Jews in an archive known as the Oyneg Shabes. The first third of the book details
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Ringelums pre-war life, including his political views, and was quite tedious to read, as it felt to be rather repetitive. After all, there is only so much that can be written about a historian, even if he has radical political and cultural views (which Ringelblum did to an extent). After that, it quickly increases pace, as the Oyneg Shabes works to record every aspect of the Warsaw Ghetto, from the smugglers who crossed the walls, to the way soup kitchens operated, even the types of music the Ghetto produced. It provides excellent details on anything to deal with the Ghetto, and has extensive footnotes and bibliography, totalling nearly 100 pages, for further research.
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LibraryThing member JohnJGaynard
The story of the historian Emanuel Ringelblum who organized ordinary people to write what was happening from day to day in the terrible life they lived in the Warsaw Ghetto, and then to hide the archives, is truly awe-inspiring. There have been less than complimentary compliments from some
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reviewers about the first chapters of Samuel D. Kassow's book, which concentrate on the history of 1930s Poland and the ideological battles between the advocates of Yiddish or Hebrew and the Polish-language "assimilationists", however I found much of this material new and worthwhile. Although the first chapters may be a little too long, their usefulness is shown later in the book, if you wish to understand how different from each other were the people thrown together in the ghetto. Much of what happened between the different Jewish political groups in 1930s Poland, and in the Warsaw Ghetto itself, had an impact on how Israel developed later. The book has just been translated into French and I have already bought two copies to offer to friends.
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Original publication date



0307455866 / 9780307455864
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