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International Conference Opens Tomorrow at Yad Vashem: Emanuel Ringelblum: The Man and the Historian

9 March 2004

Yad Vashem will host an international conference titled “Emanuel Ringelblum: The Man and the Historian” on March 10-11, 2004. The conference marks 60 years since Dr. Ringelblum’s murder at the hands of the Nazis. Yad Vashem has been entrusted with the Ringelblum box, which is one of the boxes in which Dr. Ringelblum hid the secret Oneg Shabbat archive. This archive documented life in the Warsaw ghetto in its final months.

The Opening Session of the conference will be held at 6:00 PM on Wednesday, March 10. Opening remarks will be given by Chairman of the Yad Vashem Directorate Avner Shalev and John Najmann Chair of Holocaust Studies Prof. David Bankier. The session will be chaired by Prof. Yosef Gorny of Tel-Aviv University and Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. Lecturers will be Yad Vashem Academic Advisor Prof. Israel Gutman and Prof. David Engel of New York University.

The main body of the conference will be held in three sessions on Thursday, March 11 between 9:30 AM-4:30 PM. The first session will be chaired by Chairman of the Yad Vashem Council Prof. Szewach Weiss. Lecturers will include Prof. Feiliks Tych of the Jewish Historical Insitute in Warsaw and Prof. Samuel Kassow of Trinity College. The second session will be chaired by Yad Vashem Chief Historian Prof. Dan Michman. Lecturing will be Prof. Nechama Tec of the University of Connecticut and Prof. Barbara Engelking-Boni of the Polish Academy of Sciences. The third session will be chaired by Mr. Yossi Shavit of the Ghetto Fighters’ Museum. Lecturing will be Dr. Raya Cohen of Tel-Aviv University, Ms. Lea Preiss of Yad Vashem and The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and Ms. Havi Ben-Sasson of Yad Vashem and The Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Among the topics will be the historical context in which Dr. Ringelblum worked, a look at inter-war Polish Jewry and the study of history, examinations of Dr. Ringelblum’s writings, and Dr. Ringelblum himself.

The conference will take place in the lecture hall of the International School of Holocaust Studies at Yad Vashem.

The conference is made possible by the generous support of the Gertner Center for International Holocaust Conferences. Conference sessions are open to the public. Sessions will take place in the auditorium of Yad Vashem in Hebrew and English with simultaneous translation.

About the Ringelblum Box

The Ringelblum box is one of the boxes in which Dr. Emmanuel Ringelblum hid the underground archive, code named Oneg Shabbat. The archive includes hundreds of documents, testimonies, and wills which documented daily life in the Warsaw ghetto in its final months. The individuals who assembled the archive collected all relevant material that they could acquire: secret newspapers distributed by political parties and youth movements, and testimonies taken from refugees who came from other ghettos or who escaped from concentration camps. The underground also took on the role of research center, initiating papers on different perspectives on life in the ghetto. In August 1942, at the peak of the deportations from the Warsaw ghetto, and in February 1943, two portions of the archive were buried in 10 metal boxes and two milk cans. These were discovered in 1946 and in 1950, but the third portion - buried in April 1943 - has never been found (recently, there was an attempt to find the third portion of the archives in Poland).

Currently, some of the original documents from the Ringelblum archive are stored in Yad Vashem’s Archives.

The Ringelblum box was given to Yad Vashem in honor of its Jubilee year and will be displayed in the new Holocaust History Museum, which is slated to be completed in late 2004. The new Holocaust History Museum will be three times larger than the current museum and will incorporate leading edge architecture and presentation technology. The museum will present the Holocaust from the perspective of the victims, using original artifacts and the stories behind them.