Anniversaries & holidays

The Anniversary of Discovering the Ringelblum Archive

Część wystawy stałej w Muzeum POLIN poświęcona Zagładzie, przedstawiająca dzieje Archiwum Ringelbluma.

On 18 September 1946, ten metal boxes of the Warsaw ghetto archive—today known as the Ringelblum Archive, in honour of its initiator—were retrieved from the ruins of a building at 68 Nowolipki Street. Before the war, the building housed a school affiliated with the Poale Zion Left Socialist-Zionist party of which Ringelblum was an activist.

Dr. Emanuel Ringelblum was a historian, graduate of the Warsaw University specializing in pre-Modern history of Warsaw Jews. During WW2, he initiated the founding of Oyneg Shabes [The Joy of Shabbat] group whose goal was to document the life and destruction of the Warsaw ghetto.

With time, Oyneg Shabes area of operation had expanded—its members collected information and witness accounts from every corner of occupied Poland, even if the majority of testimonies came from Warsaw. They collected both official decrees and materials which documented everyday life—tram tickets and candy wrappers. Many thousands of artefacts were collected: documents, photos, literary works and artworks.

The Archive was divided into three parts, secured and hidden away.

  • The first part was stored away in the basement of the school at 68 Nowolipki Street already in late July, early August 1942, namely during the great liquidation Aktion—a mass deportation of nearly 300,000 inmates of the Warsaw ghetto to the extermination camp in Treblinka. It was recovered in September 1946 thanks to Hersz Wasser, one of the Oyneg Shabes members who survived the war.
  • The second part was recovered by accident, during construction works in 1950.
  • The third portion has never been found.

The preserved documents were deposited at the Jewish Historical Institute in Warsaw, where they are still held today.

In 1996, the Ringelblum Archive was placed on the UNESCO Memory of the World Register.

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