Special Yom HaShoah Screening Event – Thursday, May 2 at 7 pm
Who Will Write Our History tells the story of Emanuel Ringelblum and the Oyneg Shabes Archive, the secret archive he created and led in the Warsaw Ghetto. With 30,000 pages of writing, photographs, posters, and more, the Oyneg Shabes Archive is the most important cache of in-the-moment, eyewitness accounts from the Holocaust. It documents not only how the Jews of the ghetto died, but how they lived. The film is based on the book of the same name by historian Samuel Kassow.
Director: Roberta Grossman
Writers: Roberta Grossman, Samuel Kassow (based on the book by: “Who will Write our History”)
Stars: Jowita Budnik, Piotr Glowacki, Piotr Jankowski
Closed Captioning Available
NY TIMES CRITIC’S PICK
“Who Will Write Our History” recounts a bold story of Nazi resistance. And inside that one story are countless others, each immensely important.
After German forces imprisoned hundreds of thousands of Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto, a band of writers and scholars code-named Oyneg Shabes (“The Joys of Shabbat”) began a mission to smuggle reports of atrocities to the outside world, and to document their lives and culture in the hope that they would be remembered.
Led by the historian Emanuel Ringelblum, the men and women recorded eyewitness accounts and collected items — drawings, posters, poems — from daily life during the Holocaust. They sealed thousands of pages in containers, which they buried beneath buildings not long before the ghetto was burned and almost everyone there murdered.
Using newsreels, voice-overs and re-enactments, Roberta Grossman, the documentary’s director, paints a comprehensive portrait of the times and of the risks taken by Ringelblum and his group. The staged scenes are well acted, while readings from diaries and letters are heartbreaking.
According to the film, of some 60 members of the Oyneg Shabes, only three survived until the end of World War II. Their work was nearly lost as well — portions of the archive had to be excavated from underneath tons of rubble after the war. Parts are still missing. A note at the end tells us that in 1999, Unesco added three collections from Poland into its Memory of the World Register: The scientific works of Copernicus, the masterpieces of Chopin and the Oyneg Shabes archives.
“What we were unable to cry and shriek out to the world, we buried in the ground,” wrote Dawid Graber, 19, who left his last will and testament in one of the containers. He soon died in the liquidation of the ghetto. Stories like his tell of both enormous sorrow and extraordinary determination.
-Ken Jaworowski, NY TIMES