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In 1940, in the Jewish ghetto of Nazi-occupied Warsaw, the Polish historian Emanuel Ringelblum established a clandestine scholarly organization called the Oyneg Shabes to record the experiences of the ghetto's inhabitants. For three years, members of the Oyneb Shabes worked in secret to chronicle the lives of hundereds of thousands as they suffered starvation, disease, and deportation by the Nazis. Shortly before the Warsaw ghetto was emptied and razed in 1943, the Oyneg Shabes buried thousands of documents from this massive archive in milk cans and tin boxes, ensuring that the voice and culture of a doomed people would outlast the efforts of their enemies to silence them.
Impeccably researched and thoroughly compelling, Samuel D. Kassow's Who Will Write Our History? tells the tragic story of Ringelblum and his heroic determination to use historical scholarship to preserve the memory of a threatened people.
“This may be the most important book about history that anyone will ever read.”
—The New Republic
“Magnificent. . . . A stellar exploration of how history . . . can and should be preserved.”
—Deborah Lipstadt, author of History on Trial
“A gripping biography. . . . We should be grateful to Professor Kassow for allowing us to share in Ringelblum’s heroic efforts.”
“One of the most important studies on the Holocaust to have appeared in years.”
—Zachary Baker, Curator of Judaica and Hebraica Collections, Stanford University
“If there is one book that should be read this year (or any year) about the Holocaust it is Who Will Write Our History?”
—Jewish Book World
“Brilliant. . . . A heroic act of synthesis and contextualization. . . . Kassow renders a complex portrait of the historian, drawing on thousands of documents. . . . He honors the efforts and restores the names of men and women who wrote though they knew their lives and those of their families and even their culture were doomed. . . . Kassow's biographies of the ‘band of comrades’ are illuminating and heartbreaking as he shows how their participation gave them a sense of purpose in the midst of chaos and despair.” –Los Angeles Times
“What’s surprising and extraordinarily moving here, is how the day-to-day concerns of people writing on the ground can be both keenly aware of–and, at other times, almost willfully oblivious to–the cruel and broad strokes of history. It’s a rich and complicated study.” –Newsday
“Without the faux romanticism or faux spirituality that often accompanies Holocaust historiography, Kassow is able to bring to life the tragic and moving story of these Jews doomed by Nazi fanaticism.” –Tikkun
“One of the most important books I’ve ever read. . . . Kassow has created a stunning and brilliant social history.” –Bonnie W. Fetterman, Reform Judaism
“A stunning revelation of the enduring spirit of the decimated residents of the Warsaw Ghetto.” –NUVO Weekly (Indianapolis)
“The volume provides important insights into the nature of why people . . . create and maintain historical documents.” –Reading Archives (blog)
“Well researched, written, and documented.” –Choice, a publication of the American Library Association
“Brings further insight into your continued study of the Holocaust.” –Jewish Foundation for the Righteous