On Wednesday, April 1 at 7:30pm, the documentary Who Will Write Our History will be shown at the Sioux City Orpheum Theatre. Following the screening, writer, producer and director Roberta Grossman will speak.
In November 1940, days after the Nazis sealed 450,000 Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto, a secret band of journalists, scholars, and community leaders decided to fight back. Led by historian Emanuel Ringelblum and known by the code name Oyneg Shabes, this clandestine group vowed to defeat Nazi lies and propaganda not with guns or fists but with pen and paper. They detailed life in the Ghetto from the Jewish perspective. They commissioned diaries, essays, jokes, poems, and songs. They documented Nazi atrocities with eyewitness accounts. They sent reports of mass murder to London via the Polish underground. Then, as trains deported them to the gas chambers of Treblinka and the Ghetto burned to the ground, they buried 60,000 pages of documentation in the hopes that the archive would survive the war, even if they did not.
Now, for the first time, the story of Emanuel Ringelblum and the Oyneg Shabes archive is told as a feature documentary.
Written, produced, and directed by Roberta Grossman and executive produced by Nancy Spielberg, Who Will Write Our History mixes the writings of the archive with new interviews, rarely seen footage, and stunning dramatizations to transport us inside the Ghetto and the lives of these courageous resistance fighters. Featuring the voices of three-time Academy Award® nominee Joan Allen and Academy Award® winner Adrien Brody, the film honors the Oyneg Shabes members’ determination in creating the most important cache of eyewitness accounts to survive the war. It follows their moments of hope, as well as their despair, desperation and anger, sometimes at their fellow Jews as much as their Nazi captors. It captures their humor, longing, hunger, and determination to retain their humanity in the face of unspeakable hardships. Ultimately, through their voices, actions, and real-time experiences, Who Will Write Our History vanquishes those who distort and dehumanize the “Other” in favor of those who stand up, fight back and, as one Oyneg Shabes member writes, “scream the truth to the world.”