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Ringelblum Archive (1944)

A time capsule from the Warsaw ghetto

by
David Samuels
September 17, 2013

Only Jews would see in mass starvation and fast-approaching annihilation an opportunity for sociological researchers armed with questionnaires. Only Jews would collect the detritus of oppression, assemble an archive, and bury it in milk cans. Only Jews would understand that the near-sighted archivist who supervised that work was as important as the commander of any fighting group in the besieged ghetto. The diaries, reports, matchbooks, wall posters, and scraps of paper stuffed into Emanuel Ringelblum’s milk cans survived to tell the story of the people who lived and died in the Warsaw Ghetto after the city was turned into a field of rubble, which to me is a much more serious kind of miracle than oil burning in a menorah for eight days.

David Samuels is most recently the author of Seul l’Amour Peut Te Briser le Coeur, a collection of his writing about America, to be published in September by Seuil.

David Samuels is most recently the author of Seul l’Amour Peut Te Briser le Coeur, a collection of his writing about America, published by Seuil.

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