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March 7: Emanuel Ringelblum

Lawrence Bush
March 7, 2010

ringelblum02-1Dr. Emanuel Ringelblum, who created an extensive secret archive of documents about life and death in the Warsaw Ghetto, was executed with his family by the Nazis, amid the ruins of the ghetto, on this day in 1944. Ringelblum kept a descriptive diary, Notes from the Warsaw Ghetto, which survived his death, and also organized a group, called Oneg Shabbat, “Joy of the Sabbath,” who collected materials, at great risk, about the daily details of ghetto existence. The archive was sealed into metal containers and milk cans and concealed in 1942 and ‘43; 19-year-old David Graber included a note that said, in part, “The men who buried the archives know that they may not survive to see the moment when the treasure is dug up and the whole truth proclaimed . . . What we were unable to scream out to the world, we have concealed under the ground.” Two of three sections of the Oneg Shabbat archive — some 35,000 documents — were recovered (in 1946 and 1950) to serve as unsurpassed testimony about Nazi atrocities, the struggles to survive, and the final uprising of 1943.

“Let us hope that the bricks and cement of our experience and our understanding will be able to provide a foundation.” —Emanuel Ringelblum

From the Jewish Currents Archive: Excerpt from Emanuel Ringelblum’s Warsaw Ghetto Diary

​​​​Lawrence Bush edited Jewish Currents from 2003 until 2018. He is the author of Bessie: A Novel of Love and Revolution and Waiting for God: The Spiritual Explorations of a Reluctant Atheist, among other books. His new volume of illustrated Torah commentaries, American Torah Toons 2, is scheduled for publication this year.