CSUN Professor Emeritus Preserves Warsaw Ghetto Poetry in Online BookHistorians in the News
Polish Jews faced a cruel destiny in 1940. Nazis soldiers had crammed more than 400,000 Jewish citizens into 1.3 square miles of territory known as the Warsaw Ghetto. From there they would be taken by trains to death camps.
Left in ruin, with faltering spirits, shattered hope and deteriorating health, the people of the ghetto began collecting all kinds of information to document their history for the future. The group was called the Oneg Shabes -- Joy of Sabbath group. It was organized by a history professor who was an underground leader and social worker in the ghetto named Emanuel Ringelblum.
Their work came to be known as the Ringelblum archives. They contained, among other things, underground newspapers, public notices by the Jewish council, stolen Nazi propaganda and poetry, which was all illegal to write and possess under penalty of death.
"I thought it would be very interesting to look at the Yiddish poetry," said Sarah Moskovitz, professor emeritus at California State University, Northridge who compiled poems from the Warsaw ghetto into a new online book, "Poetry in Hell."
"I became interested in the material and I knew it was housed in the Jewish Historical Institute in Warsaw. I was fortunate to learn from the historian Samuel Kassow that this poetry had recently been sent in microfiche format to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM) in Washington, D.C."...
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