David Cesarani


Who Will Write Our History? Rediscovering a Hidden Archive from the Warsaw Ghetto


Allen Lane/The Penguin Press 523pp £10.99 order from our bookshop

In September 1946 workers directed by the Jewish Historical Commission in Poland recovered ten metal boxes buried in the basement of what had been a Jewish school in the Warsaw Ghetto, but which was then a precarious heap of rubble. The boxes contained the first collection of documents and records assembled by the Oyneg Shabes group in the ghetto and buried for safe-keeping. This remarkable enterprise had operated for four years under the cover of a Jewish self-help organisation run by Emanuel Ringelblum, a Jewish historian of pre-war eminence who had perished during the war. In December 1950, a second cache was unearthed. These papers were contained in two milk churns and were in better condition than the first lot, which had suffered extensive damage. A third batch of material was never found, despite efforts made by the only three survivors of the group.

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter