Contact: Shelley Lavender
"Scream the Truth at the World:
Emanuel Ringelblum and the Hidden Archive of the Warsaw Ghetto”
University of Judaism Opens Exhibit to LAUSD Students February 19
(LOS ANGELES) "Scream the Truth at the World," an exhibit of artifacts from Jewish Polish life before WWII, will be on display at the UJ from Feb. 19 to May 7. Throughout the exhibition, middle school aged students from throughout the Los Angeles Unified School District as well as nearby campuses will have a chance to visit the UJ’s Platt Gallery. The public opening on February 19 is from 2-5 p.m. with scheduled speakers in Gindi Auditorium at 3 p.m.
On September 18, 1946, evidence of the destruction of Polish Jewry, ghetto life, and Nazi brutality was pulled from the rubble of the Warsaw Ghetto. The Ringelblum archive, as the materials came to be known, is the most important source for, and the most poignant testimony to, the destruction of Polish Jewry. The Museum of Jewish Heritage—A Living Memorial to the Holocaust and the Jewish Historical Institute, Warsaw, will present this exhibit. This is the fourth stop of a national tour, which was originally presented at the Museum in New York from November 7, 2001 through February 18, 2002.
Recognizing that the events unfolding around him in Europe in the fall of 1939 were unprecedented and required careful documentation and preservation, Warsaw historian Emanuel Ringelblum gathered a few dozen writers, historians, rabbis, teachers, and welfare workers to form a group code-named Oyneg Shabbes [Joy of Sabbath]. Reports on the deportation and murders of Jews, ghetto artifacts, photographs, children’s school essays, and ghetto art were collected by the secret group. The group’s members originally assumed that they themselves would use the material collected to write this bitter chapter in the history of Polish Jewry. When the annihilation of the Jews became apparent, members of Oyneg Shabbes made efforts to raise the alarm in the free world. As the Nazis began liquidating the Ghetto, members of Oyneg Shabbes buried the archive in several caches. On September 18, 1946, the first cache was pulled from the Ghetto’s rubble; a second cache was found in 1950; the last cache has never been discovered. Less than a handful of the group’s members survived; Ringelblum was not among them.
Nineteen-year-old Dawid Graber, who helped bury the first cache, included his last will in it. His will said, in part, “What we were unable to cry and shriek out to the world we buried in the ground… I would love to live to see the moment in which the great treasure will be dug up and scream the truth at the world. So the world may know all. So the ones who did not live through it may be glad, and we may feel like veterans with medals on our chests… May the treasure fall into good hands, may it last into better times, may it alarm and alert the world to what happened and was played out in the twentieth century.” It is from Graber’s last will that the exhibition draws its name: “Scream the truth at the World.”
The archivists of Oyneg Shabbes understood the value of personal testimonies recorded immediately while impressions were still fresh, and valued the responses of women and children, whose role in the larger historical picture is often neglected. The materials they collected illustrate the immense diversity and vitality of Jewish life in the Warsaw Ghetto and reflect the changing perceptions of Jews who were struggling to survive as they realized their fate.
The exhibition of facsimiles includes diary entries, letters, posters and art preserved in the archive. It explores isolation and concentration of the Jews into ghettos, community life, Jewish response, resistance and annihilation. Artifacts of note include a school child’s observations of activity in the Ghetto streets, Janusz Korczak’s application for a job in an orphanage, the dedication page of the manuscript of the weekly teachings of the famous Rabbi Kalman Kalonimus Szapiro, an unknown author’s description of the massacre of the Jews of Slonim, and reports of the destruction of other communities. There are the first reports of the murder of Jews in gas vans at the Chelmno death camp and in Belzec gas chambers, and one of the first reports of the operation of the death factory of Treblinka, complete with map and legend. Also on display is the call to arms by the Jewish Fighting Organization, of January 18, 1943, the day that the Nazis first faced Jewish armed resistance in the Ghetto.
The public reception is Sunday, February 19 from 2-5 p.m. at the Platt Gallery at the University of Judaism. The exhibit and parking are free and the hours are Sunday-Thursday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Friday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The UJ is located at 15600 Mulholland Drive, Bel Air in the Sepulveda Pass, just east of the Mulholland Drive exit of the 405 Freeway. To RSVP and for days and hours of operation, call (310) 440-1201. To learn more about the event, the art galleries, or the UJ, log onto www.ajula.edu