The documents collected in this volume constitute a record of various issues connected with the activity of the Oyneg Shabes group — an underground organisation of the Warsaw ghetto, which served as a scientific/research institute and was the only institution of this type on the Polish territory under the German occupation. One might say that almost every manuscript from Ringelblum’s Archive records something about Oyneg Shabes, but the materials collected here are particularly important for they show the organisation from various angles, familiarising one with its co-workers, its aims, the results of its activity and its significance for Holocaust history.
The volume dedicated to press released by Hashomer Hatzair, a Zionist, left-wing youth organization, very active in the Warsaw Ghetto resistance movement, as well as documents about its activity during the war. The published set comprises eight titles: Płomienie, Iton Hatnua, El-Al, Neged Hazerem, Jutrznia, Przedwiośnie, Ojfbrojz and Zarzewie. The volume includes also an interesting collection of letters sent in the first half of 1940 by organization members to its Warsaw headquarters. Reading the letters allows rethinking the role and wartime biographies of Hashomer Hatzair leaders – Mordechaj Anielewicz, Josef Kapłan, Tosia Altman or Miriam Hajnsdorf. The volume begins with an extensive introduction expanding on the history of Hashomer Hatzair in the Warsaw Ghetto. It mentions such subjects as ideological evolution of the organization during the war or its role in spreading information about the Holocaust.
Sermons of the tzaddik from Piaseczno, given under the German occupation, and from November 1940 – in the Warsaw Ghetto, are a document of particular importance, carrying a message on multiple levels. They belong to canonical works on orthodox Jewish thought of the Holocaust era. Even though we won’t find there references to particular events from the wartime reality, the reflection is present in mentions of „evil-doers”, suffering and pain, physical and mental exhaustion, the impact of loss of loved ones, crisis of religion and faith. It is the first Polish edition of these documents in translation from the Hebrew original, read again and with comments from Daniel Reiser, insightful researcher of the Kabbalah, philosophy of Hassidism, contemporary mysticism and theology of the Holocaust.
The volume closes the Polish edition of the Ringelblum Archive. The first part of the publication comprises documents which for various reasons didn’t make it into „their” thematic volumes during the 20-year editorial process. The second part includes information about documents which had found themselves in the Archive for reasons not always obvious for the editors, but the awareness of the fact that they were hidden together with testimonies collected by the Oneg Shabbat group is necessary to complete the image of the collection. We remained faithful to the aim of publishing everything we received from the Archive in our edition. The thirs part includes copies of documents from the Archive which were preserved outside of it and were found during research. An index of all published documents with their location in particular volumes will be a readers’ guide to this extensive publication.