Who Will Write Our History: Rediscovering a Hidden Archive From the Warsaw Ghetto

Thursday, February 13. Book talk. On Who Will Write Our History? Rediscovering a Hidden Archive From the Warsaw Ghetto. Professor Samuel D. Kassow, history, Trinity College, and author. 11:30 a.m., 710 Social Sciences. Presented with the Holocaust, Genocide, and Mass Violence (HGMV) Studies Interdisciplinary Graduate Group, co-sponsored by the Center for German and European Studies, made possible by the Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) of Minnesota and the Dakotas.

In 1940, in the Jewish ghetto of Nazi-occupied Warsaw, the Polish historian Emanuel Ringelblum established a clandestine scholarly organization called the Oyneg Shabes to record the experiences of the ghetto’s inhabitants. For three years, members of the Oyneb Shabes worked in secret to chronicle the lives of hundereds of thousands as they suffered starvation, disease, and deportation by the Nazis. Shortly before the Warsaw ghetto was emptied and razed in 1943, the Oyneg Shabes buried thousands of documents from this massive archive in milk cans and tin boxes, ensuring that the voice and culture of a doomed people would outlast the efforts of their enemies to silence them.

Impeccably researched and thoroughly compelling, Samuel D. Kassow’s Who Will Write Our History? tells the tragic story of Ringelblum and his heroic determination to use the historical scholarship to preserve the memory of a threatened people. Dr. Kassow is an American historian of the history of Ashkenazi Jewry. He was born in a displaced persons camp in Germany. His mother survived because a classmate hid her and her sister in a cave underneath the barn on his family’s farm, his father was arrested by the Russians and spent the duration of the war in a Soviet prison camp. Kassow is the Charles Northam Professor at Trinity College. He is a consultant to the Museum of History of the Polish Jews in Warsaw, Poland. His book, Who Will Write Our History? Rediscovering a Hidden Archive From the Warsaw Ghetto was published by Indiana Press in 2007. The film of the same title, based on his book, is available in the CHGS video library. Please inquire for details.


710 Social Sciences Building
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