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Emanuel Ringelblum.

Emanuel Ringelblum (November 21, 1900 – March 7, 1944) was a Polish-Jewish historian, politician and social worker, known for his Notes from the Warsaw Ghetto, Notes on the Refugees in Zbąszyn chronicling the deportation of Jews from the town of Zbąszyńmarker, and the so-called Ringelblum's Archives of the Warsaw Ghetto.

Before the war

He was born in Buchachmarker in the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Prior to the Second World War Ringelblum worked for various social organisations. Among his most notable activities was helping Polish Jews expelled from Germanymarker in 1938 and 1939. He was also known as a historian and a specialist in the field of the history of Polish Jews between the late Middle Ages and 18th century.

World War II

During the war Ringelblum and his family were resettled to the Warsaw Ghetto. There he led a secret operation code-named Oyneg Shabbos (Yiddish for "Sabbath delight"). Together with numerous other Jewish writers, scientists and ordinary people, Ringelblum collected diaries, documents, commissioned papers, and preserved the posters and decrees that comprised the memory of the doomed community. Among approximately 25,000 sheets preserved there are also detailed descriptions of destruction of ghettos in other parts of occupied Poland, the Treblinka extermination campmarker, Chełmno extermination campmarker and a number of reports made by scientists conducting research on the effects of famine in the ghettos.

He was also one of the most active members of Żydowska Samopomoc Społeczna (Polish for Jewish Social Aid), an organisation established to help the starving people of the Warsaw Ghetto. On the eve of the ghetto's destruction in the spring of 1943, when all seemed lost, the archive was placed in three milk cans and metal boxes. Parts were buried in the cellars of Warsaw buildings.

Shortly before the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising Ringelblum and his family escaped from the Ghetto and found refuge outside of it. However, on 7 March 1944 their hiding place was discovered by the Gestapomarker; Ringelblum and his family were executed as well as those who hid them.

Ringelblum's Archives

The fate of Ringelblum's Archives is only partially known. In September 1946 ten metal boxes were found in the ruins of Warsaw. In December 1950 in a cellar of another ruined house at 68 Nowolipki Street two additional milk cans were found containing more documents. Among them were copies of several underground newspapers, a narrative of deportations from the Warsaw Ghetto, and public notices by the Judenrat (the council of Jewish leaders), but also documents of ordinary life, concert invitations, milk coupons, and chocolate wrappers.

Despite repeated searches, the rest of the archive, including the third milk can, was never found. It is rumoured to be located beneath what is now the Chinese Embassy in Warsawmarker.


  • Samuel D. Kassow, Who Will Write Our History? Emanuel Ringelblum, the Warsaw Ghetto, and the Oyneg Shabes Archive, Bloomington & Indianapolis 2007.
  • Samuel D. Kassow, “Emanuel Ringelblum and Jewish Society”, Michael, Institute of Diaspora Studies, Tel Aviv University, 2004

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