Popular Articles

Mixing re-enactment with historic footage, Who Will Write Our History? is powerful story of Jewish survival and resilience

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on email
Share on print

Click an icon above to share, email, or save this article

Re-enactment of life in the Warsaw Ghetto is weaved into archival footage and interviews with historians in ‘Who Will Write Our History’ (Abramorama)

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on email
Share on print

Click an icon above to share, email, or save this article

With one in every five Canadian youths proclaiming complete ignorance about what happened in the Holocaust, the need for Holocaust education of the younger generations has become a pressing issue. Today, it is the responsibility of the descendants from Holocaust survivors to facilitate further research and education about this horrific period of human history. Even to this day, filmmakers and historians are still shedding new light on the Holocaust, and bringing new evidence to the forefront of public consciousness. 

A 2018 documentary, Roberta Grossman’s Who Will Write Our History? has done just that. Upon release, it played in over 75 countries and won awards at numerous film festivals. I saw it earlier this year at a screening during a Holocaust memorial at my grandmother’s synagogue.

The film follows a man named Emanuel Ringelblum, who spearheaded a secret underground movement in the Warsaw Ghetto called the Oyneg Shabes. The Oyneg Shabes (“Joy of Sabbath”) was created by Warsaw Jews to preserve their history, and to expose the heart of their culture and the story of its destruction to the rest of the world. Ringelblum brought together the most brilliant Jewish minds of the time with the goal of collecting and producing documentation of the real side of Jewish history in Poland. He believed that in effect, this would also combat the rampant spread of Nazi propaganda throughout Europe.

Produced by Nancy Spielberg (sister of Steven), and based on a book by Samuel Kassow who appears as a historian, the film is at times graphic, and at times heartwarming. It exposes footage and other historical artifacts that reveal both the intricate and rich Jewish culture that thrived throughout Warsaw, until its imminent destruction.

As the film explains, aside from the widespread German propaganda footage of Jews being publicly humiliated and tormented in the streets of the ghetto, there was no other record of events being taken, and the world remained isolated from what was taking place in Warsaw. The archive, unearthed in 1946, has since served as the deepest glimpse into the history of Warsaw Jews that the world has ever seen.

One of the greatest achievements is bringing the story into living colour for the audience. While many historical films and documentaries on the Holocaust have been made, not many are able to convey to the audience the inhumane conditions faced by so many Jewish individuals on such a personal level.

Get thej.ca a Pro Israel Voice by Email. Never miss a top story that effects you, your family & your community

Featuring narration from Joan Allen and The Pianist star Adrien Brody, the film blends between stories narrated, over reenacted scenes as well as modern interviews, historical data. Through moving performances by the actors portraying the real historical figures and the grittiness captured in the imagery, the film conveys the obscene conditions of the ghetto and the cultural revolt by the Oyneg Shabes in a powerful way.

The audience is submerged into explicit scenes within the ghetto, and then uplifted by the heroism demonstrated by the people who risked their lives to compile the archive. Without the Oyneg Shabes, not much would be known about the plight of the 450,000 Jews who lived in Warsaw. Only two members of the collective survived the war.

This film comes at a crucial time in Jewish history. We live in a day where revisionist history is all too common. In 2018, Poland passed a law stating that a person who publicly assigns any responsibility to the Polish state in the Holocaust could face three years of imprisonment.

The first of two archives from the Oyneg Shabes are shown being recovered in 1946 (public domain)

Historian Edna Friedberg remarked in The Atlantic, “The writing of history should never be circumscribed by politicians. A Polish tribunal will now consider the constitutionality of a law that endangers an honest reckoning with a complex past. As the last eyewitnesses to World War II leave us, its decision will set a critical precedent.”

Due to international pressure, the law was later amended to remove the possibility of criminal prosecution. As the number of living Holocaust survivors diminishes, the question posed in the film’s title is as relevant to Jews today as it was during the Holocaust: Who will write our history?

Matt Render is a 25 year old writer living in Toronto where he writes reviews, essays, music, comedy and short stories. 

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on email
Share on print

Click an icon above to share, email, or save this article

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on email
Share on print

Click an icon above to share, email, or save this article

Read More

Thank you for choosing TheJ.Ca as your source for Canadian Jewish News.

We do news differently!

Our positioning as a Zionist News Media platform sets us apart from the rest. While other Canadian Jewish media are advocating increasingly biased progressive political and social agendas, TheJ.Ca is providing more and more readers with a welcome alternative and an ideological home.

We revealed the incursion of anti-Israel progressive elements such as IfNotNow into our communities. We have exposed the distorted hateful agenda of the “progressive” left political radicals who brought Linda Sarsour to our cities, and we were first to report on many disturbing incidents of Nazi-based hate towards Jews across Canada.

But we can’t do it alone. We need your HELP!

Our ability to thrive and grow in 2020 and beyond depends on the generosity of committed readers and supporters like you.

Monthly support is a great way to help us sustain our operations. We greatly appreciate any contributions you can make to support Jewish Journalism.

We thank you for your ongoing support.

Happy reading!

Thank you for choosing TheJ.Ca as your source for Canadian Jewish News.

We do news differently!

Our positioning as a Zionist News Media platform sets us apart from the rest. While other Canadian Jewish media are advocating increasingly biased progressive political and social agendas, TheJ.Ca is providing more and more readers with a welcome alternative and an ideological home.

We revealed the incursion of anti-Israel progressive elements such as IfNotNow into our communities. We have exposed the distorted hateful agenda of the “progressive” left political radicals who brought Linda Sarsour to our cities, and we were first to report on many disturbing incidents of Nazi-based hate towards Jews across Canada.

But we can’t do it alone. We need your HELP!

Our ability to thrive and grow in 2020 and beyond depends on the generosity of committed readers and supporters like you.

Monthly support is a great way to help us sustain our operations. We greatly appreciate any contributions you can make to support Jewish Journalism.

We thank you for your ongoing support.

Happy reading!

cOMING SOON…….

Breaking News

Recent

Features

News

Current Events

Opinions

Politics

Religion

Culture

Memoriam and Obituaries

PodcastS

Terms and Conditions

Privacy Policy

About Us

Advertise with us

contact 

Subscribe Now

Receive the latest in community & international Jewish news direct to your inbox

© 2020 THEJ.CA, All Rights Reserved

Terms and Conditions

Privacy Policy

About Us

Advertise with us

contact 

Subscribe Now

Receive the latest in community & international Jewish news direct to your inbox

© 2020 THEJ.CA, All Rights Reserved

Subscribe Now

Receive the latest in community & international Jewish news direct to your inbox

Terms and Conditions

Privacy Policy

About Us

Advertise with us

contact 

© 2020 THEJ.CA, All Rights Reserved

Previous
Next