Runner-up, 2007 National Jewish Book Award in Holocaust
Synopses & Reviews
Through his heroic efforts, Emanuel Ringelblum ensured that even if he and his comrades perished, future generations would rely on Jewish sources to write the last chapters of Polish Jewry.
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.
"A stunning revelation of the enduring spirit of the decimated residents of the Warsaw Ghetto." Rita Kohn, NUVO Weekly
"Samuel Kassow's book on Ringelblum and Oyneg Shabes is a chef d'oeuvre. I can only marvel at the author's ability to master a bewildering array of primary and secondary sources and write a temperate but impassioned historical study of his own. It is one of the most important studies on the Holocaust to have appeared in years." Zachary Baker, Reinhard Family Curator of Judaica and Hebraica Collections, Stanford University Libraries
"This may well be the most important book about history that anyone will ever read....[A] work of tremendous significance." Peter N. Miller, The New Republic
(read the entire New Republic review
The gripping story of a clandestine archive in the Warsaw ghetto and its heroic founder
This volume sheds light on two brilliant but lesser known ghetto journalists: Josef Zelkowicz and Peretz Opoczynski. An ordained rabbi, Zelkowicz became a key member of the archive in the Lodz ghetto. Opoczynski was a journalist and mailman who contributed to the Warsaw ghetto’s secret Oyneg Shabes archive. While other ghetto writers sought to create an objective record of their circumstances, Zelkowicz and Opoczynski chronicled daily life and Jewish responses to ghettoization by the Nazis with powerful immediacy. Expertly translated by David Suchoff, with an elegant introduction by Samuel Kassow, these profound writings are at last accessible to contemporary readers.
About the Author
Samuel D. Kassow is the Charles Northam Professor of History at Trinity College. He is author of Students, Professors, and the State in Tsarist Russia, 1884-1917 and editor (with Edith W. Clowes) of Between Tsar and People: The Search for a Public Identity in Tsarist Russia. He lives in Hartford, Connecticut.
Table of Contents
1. From 'Bichuch' to Warsaw
2. Borochov's Disciple
3. History for the People
4. Organizing the Community: Self Help and Relief
5. A Band of Comrades
6. Who Will Write Our History?
7. Traces of Life and Death: texts from the Archive
8. The Tidings of Job
9. A Historian's Final Mission