Ringelblum Exhibit

Peter J. Shields Library Lobby - Fall 2005

Scream the Truth at the World: Emanuel Ringelblum and the Hidden Archive of the Warsaw Ghetto comprises facsimiles of documents contained in the Ringelblum Archive housed in the Jewish Historical Institute in Warsaw, Poland. The archive, which documents conditions in the Warsaw Ghetto, is the most important collection of evidence on the destruction Polish Jewry. The exhibit is divided into three, chronological groups from the time the Ghetto was sealed to just before the uprising.

"The objects offered here have been chosen because of their relevance to questions of central importance: on the one hand, Nazi actions that led steadily to the extermination of the Jews, and on the other, responses by Jews. The topics of the exhibition include efforts at survival, the situation of the Jews confronted by slaughter, underground activities aimed at identifying the scope and goals of Nazi Jewish policy, and the preparations for armed struggle. The objects and documents selected for the exhibition illustrate the stages of extermination, hunger, the lives of children, and forced labor. Captions are often excerpted from Emanuel Ringleblum's writings, and the documents themselves."

Emanuel Ringelblum and the History of the Archive

In November, 1940, as the Ghetto was being sealed, historian Emanuel Ringelblum organized a group, Oyneg Shabbes, which planned a comprehensive program to collect documents, conduct research and create an accurate, objective record of the experiences of the Jews trapped in the Warsaw Ghetto. Members of the group "collected official documents such as announcements, printed materials, ration cards and so on, as well as personal papers such as identification cards, registration cards and certificates of employment. They documented economic and cultural activities, conducted polls and wrote reports concerning, for example the situation of different professional or generational groups."

"While the Archive was being assembled, the collection was concealed in many locations. In the middle of the summer of 1942, the Polish underground warned the Warsaw Ghetto population about the threat of mass deportations. Over the next few days the leadership of Oyneg Shabbes decided to bury the collection, and they managed to carry this out in part on August 3.... Israel Lichetensztajn, a member of Oyneg Shabbes, together with his students Nachum Grzywacz and Dawid Graber, packed the documents in ten metal boxes and hid them under the school building at 68 Nowolipki Street."

"Those members of the Oyneg Shabbes who managed to avoid deportation and death during the summer of 1942 continued to collect material for the Archive in the following months.... At the end of February 1943, the second cache of Archive materials was concealed in two milk cans in the cellar of 68 Nowolipki Street and the hiding place bricked up. The third part of the Archive was hidden at 34 Swietojerska Street on April 18, 1943, the night before the start of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising."

Most members of Oyneg Shabbas, including Ringelblum were killed, but on September 18, 1946, one of the few who did survive helped locate the first cache in the rubble that was all that remained of the Ghetto. The second cache was found in 1950 while only fragments of the third have ever been recovered. The Archive was added to UNESCO's "Memory of the World Register" in 1999.

Acknowledgements

We are grateful to The Museum of Jewish Heritage - A Living Memorial to the Holocaust and the Jewish Historical Institute in Warsaw, home of the Ringelblum Archive, for making this exhibition possible. The exhibition is supported in part by the American Society for Jewish Heritage in Poland. It was brought to the University of California, Davis, through the efforts of David Biale, the Emanuel Ringelblum Professor of Jewish History in the History Department of the University of California, Davis, and with the support of the Taube Foundation for Jewish Life and Culture and by Joseph and Eda Pell.

The Museum of Jewish Heritage - A Living Memorial to the Holocaust has additional material to accompany the exhibition on its Web site.

Quotations are all taken from the exhibit catalog, Scream the Truth at the World: Emanuel Ringelblum and the Hidden Archive of the Warsaw Ghetto, (New York: Museum of Jewish Heritage - A Living Memorial to the Holocaust) 2001.

For additional information, contact Professor David Biale or Dan Goldstein, Humanities, Social Sciences & Government Information Services Librarian.