Writing as Resistance? Bearing Witness in the Warsaw Ghetto

Zoe Vania Waxman

in Writing the Holocaust

Published in print June 2008 | ISBN: 9780199541546
Published online January 2010 | e-ISBN: 9780191709739 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Historical Monographs

Writing as Resistance? Bearing Witness in the Warsaw Ghetto

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  • Modern History (1700 to 1945)


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This chapter examines the work of Emmanuel Ringelblum, a trained social historian and teacher, who initiated the Warsaw-based secret archives of Oneg Shabbat (Sabbath Delight: a code-name for the clandestine Sabbath afternoon gatherings). These archives, which represent the most systematic attempt to record Jewish suffering during the Holocaust, were dedicated to finding the best way to record the uprooting of communities, and the suffering and destruction of Polish Jewry. Ringelblum and his colleagues in the Warsaw ghetto were able to amass a considerable amount of information. By secretly recording Jewish life in Poland during the German occupation, and continuing the Jewish tradition of witnessing, the Warsaw ghetto chroniclers, both individually and collectively, performed important acts of resistance. They believed that what they were experiencing would one day be studied as historically important, and this awareness shaped their writing.

Keywords: resistance; Warsaw ghetto; Emmanuel Ringelblum; Oneg Shabbat; Polish Jewry; ghetto chroniclers; Jewish suffering; secret recording; Jewish life; writing

Chapter.  16907 words. 

Subjects: Modern History (1700 to 1945)

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