Who Will Write Our History?
2019 | Documentary | 95 minutes | In English, Yiddish, and Polish with English subtitles
Based on the book by the same name by historian Samuel Kassow, Who Will Write Our History? depicts the story of Emanuel Ringelblum, who together with 60 Jewish residents in the Warsaw ghetto, decided to record the horrors they were enduring: starvation, torture, and extermination. The 30,000+ pages of diaries, notes, photographs and posters were known as the Oyneg Shabes Archive (The Joys of Shabbat). In three huge batches, they were buried in the ghetto with the hope that after the war they would be found and reveal the truth of what exactly happened. Fortunately, two batches were found and formed the basis of Kassow’s book and this brilliant documentary directed by Roberta Grossman.
Why Stream This Film?
- Rotten Tomatoes Score (Critics Consensus): 90%
- Metacritic Score: 83
NY Times Critics Pick
San Francisco Jewish Film Festival: Winner, Audience Award
Twin Cities Film Festival: Winner, Best Documentary
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A vital documentary unveils the secret diarists of the Warsaw Ghetto, who testified on every page to the lives that the Nazis tried to bury. These diarists always knew that they were drafting the record of an existence whose memory—were it not for them—would be wiped away.
Most important, all the words that we hear spoken, all the narration taken from diaries, is word-for-word accurate, without embellishments. The interviewees, who include Samuel Kassow, who wrote the eponymous book from which the documentary derived, and Polish historian Jan Grabowski, provide pointed commentary.
WHO WILL WRITE OUR HISTORY? recounts a bold story of Nazi resistance. And inside that one story are countless others, each immensely important. The staged scenes are well-acted while readings from diaries and letters are heartbreaking.
In its increasingly dramatic (and sometimes wrenching) final third, we follow as Ringelbaum and others go into hiding and try to guarantee that the documents they’ve gathered will survive the war even if they don’t. This film’s existence makes it obvious they succeeded, but how that happened is still a gripping tale.
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