Emanuel Ringelblum

THE MAN FROM WHOM EVERYTHING HAS STARTED

Emanuel Ringelblum was born on 21 November 1900 in Buchach in East Galicia, as were his siblings – a brother and two sisters. His mother, Munie nee Heler, died when Emanuel was 12. Even though he wasn’t religious, he sent his son to the local cheder; Emanuel completed the primary school in Buchach and began his education at a state gymnasium, he also joined a small Zionist youth organization ran by Cwi Heller.

When the World War I began, the Ringelblum family, in fear of Cossack pogroms, escaped from Buchach to Nowy Sącz. Younf Emanuel attended there the Jan Dlugosz Gymnasium no.1. His schoolmates called him Edek or Edzia. He passed his final exams in 1920.

Years spent in this city sparked the beginnings of his political activity: he joined the youth section of the Poalej Syjon party, with whose left-wing faction he remained associated for the rest of his life. In 1919, he participated in the congress of the Jugnt organization in Warsaw. Soon, thanks to his political activity, he also met his wife, Judyta Herman (born in 1904), a fellow member of Poalej Syjon-Lewica. In 1930, their son Uriel (Uri) was born.

On 20 May 1927, he defended his PhD (Jews in Warsaw, from the oldest times until 1527), and one year later he received the diploma of a high school teacher. He began to work at the „Jehudija” private gymnasium for Jewish girls, where he met Abraham Lewin – later to become an Oneg Shabbat associate. He gave up teaching in 1938, having decided to dedicate himself to social work.

In 1930, together with Rafał Mahler, he announced Sources for researching the history of Jews in Poland and in Eastern Europe. Two years later, his dissertation was published. Ringelblum was working on its continuation (History of Jews in Warsaw until the end of the 18th century), but he didn’t manage to publish it; many fragments were used as articles about the history of Jews in old Poland. He also wrote a study Projects and attempts to modify the status of Jews in the king Stanislaus Augustus era (1934) and the first historical study on Szmul Zbytkower.

Since 1930, he had been cooperating with the „Encyclopedia Judaica” in Germany, where he published about 30 monographs on Jewish communities in Poland. In 1937, his monograph Jews in the Kościuszko Uprising was published.

He founded the Seminar on the History of Jews in Poland, reformed in 1923 into the Society of Young Historians under the patronage of YIVO (Institute for Jewish Research) in Vilnius. From 1929, the Society had been functioning as the Warsaw Commission for Jewish History. The height of its activity was in the 1930s — from 1926, the organization had been publishing the „Junger Historiker” periodical (from 1934 — „Bleter far Geszichte”).

Ringeblum was prolific – he never ceased to write, even when he had to hide on the „aryan side” in 1943. Artur Eisenbach wrote in his introduction to the „Chronicle of the Warsaw Ghetto”, that a bibliography of Ringelblum’s studies covers about 126 positions.

In February 1943, Ringelblum with his wife Judyta and son Uri, went into hiding on the “Aryan side”. From August 1943, Ringelblum, his family, and 37 other people were hiding in a bunker at 81 Grójecka Street in Warsaw. Ringelblum continued his academic work there. In March 1944, following a denouncement to the Gestapo, the “Krysia” bunker was discovered and all the Jews hiding in it as well as the Pole Mieczysław Wolski who helped them, probably on 10 March were executed in the ruins of the ghetto. We do not know their burial place. Emanuel Ringelblum is a patron of the Jewish Historical Institute in Warsaw.

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