The Jewish Historical Institute, the depositary of the Ringelblum Archive, has, for many years, endeavored to share the knowledge of this unique collection of evidence and reports on the life and Holocaust of Jews in a German occupied Poland. The most recent project with the aim of popularizing this one-of-a-kind trove, listed on the Memory of the World Register by UNESCO, was the “…I bury and plant manuscripts…Memory of the World. The Warsaw Ghetto Underground Archive” exhibition. It was opened on July 2nd 2012.
The exhibit was designed to synthetically illustrate was the Ringelblum Archive is. It’s elements describe who the creators of the Archive were, what methods they used when collecting documentation and what kind of evidence they felt best described the lives of Jews at the time. Documents relating to Janusz Korczak held a special place in the exhibition. This was the first time the original had been presented.
This temporary exhibit, providing only a glimpse into a one-of-a-kind collection, will be replaced in the future with a permanent exhibit which will allow for the full exploration of the collection’s riches. The Archive is made up of many kinds of documents: journals, letters, literary works, photographs, posters and announcements collected methodically and meticulously by a team created for that precise purpose under the leadership of Dr Emanuel Ringelblum, historian and researcher of Jewish history. These dedicated people worked in secrecy. Before the Uprising in the Ghetto they hid the collection which was discovered again soon after the war.
This is what Emanuel Ringelblum wrote about the creation of the Archive: During three and a half years of war the “Oneg Shabbat” (Joy of Sabbath) group created an Archive of the Ghetto. The name of the group comes from the fact that it met on Saturdays […] I laid the first foundations for the archive in October 1939. Warsaw was low in spirit. Each day brought new restrictions against Jews. […] People were afraid to write then because they expected searches. They calmed down in time. […] The Germans didn’t care what the Jew does in his own home. So the Jew started to write. Everybody wrote: journalists, novelists, teachers, social activists, teenagers and even children. Many kept journals which descried the tragic events through the lens of personal experiences. Many things were written but most of it was destroyed, together with the Warsaw Jews, during the deportations. All that remained were the documents in the Ghetto’s Archive.