Emanuel Ringelblum

Emanuel Ringelblum (1900–1944) was the founder of the underground archive Oyneg Shabes (Joy of the Sabbath) in the Warsaw Ghetto.

© The Ghetto Fighters’ House Museum, Israel/The Photo Archive
Emanuel Ringelblum, place and date unknown.

In the 1920s, Ringelblum studied in Warsaw. He wrote his doctoral thesis on the Jewish History of this city. Following his studies, he worked at Jewish schools and at the Jewish Scientific Institute in Vilna/Vilnius for several years. Ringelblum was interested in the socio-economic aspects of the Jewish history of Poland. In addition to conducting research, he provided his services to charitable and political organizations.

© Archives of the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research, New York
Ringelblum (first from left) and Rachel Auerbach (third from left) together with other Jewish writers and scholars in the 1930s, place unknown.
© www.wikimedia.org / Public Domain
Excerpt of the Chronicle about the Warsaw Ghetto by Ringelblum. As part of his secret archive, it was found after the war.

Following the German invasion, Ringelblum was forced to live in the Warsaw Ghetto. He decided to document Jewish life and its persecution for future generations within his underground archive, Oyneg Shabes. It was important to Ringelblum that the archive also bore witness to the strength and courage of the imprisoned Jews. Ringelblum and others, like Rachel Auerbach, brought together sources, conducted interviews and produced analysis. Facing the unremitting threat of the deportations to Treblinka extermination camp, they buried their extensive collection in metal boxes and milk cans. This prevented the archive from falling into the hands of the Germans or getting destroyed.

In 1943, Ringelblum went into hiding outside of the ghetto with his wife and son. A year later, they were denounced and eventually shot inside the Pawiak prison in Warsaw.

The archive was retrieved in large parts after the war. Up to this day, this extensive collection is one of the most important resources for Holocaust research. It is housed at the Historical Institute in Warsaw, which bears Emanuel Ringelblum’s name.

Emanuel Ringelblum by Romina Wiegemann

Extract from the online event for the special exhibition "Crimes Uncovered. The First Generation of Holocaust Researchers"