Ringelblum, Emanuel (Menachem)

(1900–44)
   Historian of the Warsaw ghetto. After the defeat of Hitler’s Germany, two remarkable collections of documents were found buried beneath the ruins of the shattered Warsaw ghetto. They had been compiled by a Polish-Jewish history teacher called Ringelblum with the help of dozens of assistants. There was reference to a third haul, which did not come to light. The papers that were unearthed formed the chief source material for Jewish life in Poland under the Nazi occupation. They included reports gathered from Warsaw and provincial cities, underground newspapers, documents, summaries of events and literary works.
   Ringelblum himself had been a leader of the group of younger Polish-Jewish historians, and had compiled a history of the Warsaw community, particularly in its social and economic aspects. At the same time he was involved in community and welfare work, and in 1938 was engaged on behalf of the American Joint Distribution Committee in assisting the seventeen thousand Polish Jews resident in Germany, who had been rounded up and dumped across the border by the Nazi regime.
   With Poland under the Nazi jackboot, and disaster closing in for its Jews, Ringelblum was driven by the compulsion to ensure that the story of what was happening should survive. He gave his operation the defiantly ironical name of Oneg Shabbat, ‘Enjoyment of the Sabbath’.
   After the Warsaw ghetto revolt, he was discovered by the Gestapo in an ‘Aryan’ quarter and murdered with his family. The diary he kept was found with the buried papers and published under the title Notes from the Warsaw Ghetto (1958).

Who’s Who in Jewish History after the period of the Old Testament. . 2012.

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