Anniversaries & holidays

Death anniversary of Emanuel Ringelblum

Emanuel Ringelblum
Emanuel Ringelblum, fot. Władysław Bartoszewski, "Warszawski pierścień śmierci 1939-1944", Interpress, Warszawa 1970

Ringelblum Emmanuel (1900-1944) - historian, teacher and community activist born in Buczacz. Ringelblum studied at the University of Warsaw, where he also received his doctorate. He worked with the Yidisher Visnshaftlecher Institute in Wilno. As a member of the Poalei Zion-Left party, he organized Jewish schools and took part in the work of the Central Jewish School Organization. He lectured in Hebrew-language high schools and worked with Jewish student organizations. He was heavily involved in community work, and was active for example in the Central No-Interest Loan Offices (Tsekabe), where he was also the editor of that institution's publication, Folkshilf.

In 1923, he co-founded the Circle of Jewish Historians in Warsaw. That circle, which later continued its activities in the framework of the Jewish Research Institute (YIVO) in Warsaw, was comprised of independent historians and students from various disciplines in the humanities. That group issued an occasional academic publication of which Ringelblum was editor.

Although Ringelblum's range of academic interests was broad, his real focus was on the history of the Polish Jews and on Polish-Jewish relations. His works include "Zydzi w Warszawie od czasow najdawniejszych do ich wygnania w 1527" (Jews in Warsaw from The Earliest Times to their Expulsion in 1527) (1932) and "Zydzi w Powstaniu Kosciuszkowskim" (Jews in the Kosciuszko Uprising) (1938). His works demonstrated the complicated nature of Polish history and the various factors that had contributed to the development of both mutual sympathy and antagonism between the two peoples.

His passion for scholarship remained with him until the end. During the war, in the Warsaw ghetto, he not only participated in the underground and organized Jewish community self-help programs, but also created a ghetto archive that was hidden underground (known as the "Ringelblum Archive"). The archive documented the life, struggle and death of the Jewish people during the German occupation. The archive was conceived as a documentation center-a place where materials from various sources could be gathered. The documents, artwork, memoirs, and historical, economic, social and literary works it contains are an invaluable source for information about the social and cultural life of the Warsaw ghetto's Jewish residents, as well as about their tragic fate. Ringelblum's personal notes and essays from October 1939 until his deportation to a camp in April 1943 have also survived.

Ringelblum prepared reports about the situation of the Jewish population for the leaders of the underground state. They were given to the Allies with the aim of alerting people in the free world to what was happening. Ringelblum belonged to a small group of conspirators who were preparing for an armed revolt in the Warsaw ghetto. After the great deportation from the ghetto in the summer of 1942, Ringelblum was officially employed in the carpentry workshop at 68 Nowolipki Street. In that building's cellar, buried in old milk cans, two sets of archival materials were hidden.

In late February 1943, he managed to leave the ghetto with his wife, Judith, and their son Uri; they hid in an underground hiding place at 84 Grojecka Street specially constructed by Wladyslaw Marczak. The day before the uprising, Ringelblum returned to the ghetto. During the fighting, he was deported to an SS camp in Trawniki. Thanks to joint action by the Jewish and Polish underground, a railwayman, Teodor Pajewski (a liaison officer from the Council for Aid to the Jews, Zegota) and Roza Kossower (a Jewish woman) managed to get him out of the camp. Ringelblum, dressed as a railwayman, was transported to Warsaw.

For a time, he was in hiding in an apartment on 2 Radzyminska Street; he moved a short while later to the hiding place at 84 Grojecka, where he remained until March 7, 1944, when the hiding place was reported to the authorities. All those who had been hiding there were taken to Pawiak prison and shot.

Source: Anna Maria Szczepan Wojnarska,