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'Who Will Write Our History' film rescheduled for Feb. 10

Image of the tip of a fountain pen for the film 'Who Will Write Our History.'

They defied the Nazis with the ultimate weapon—the truth—and risked everything so that their archive would survive the war, even if they did not. Now, their story is finally being told and it’s coming to Central New York.

Because of the recent snow storm, the screening of ‘Who Will Write Our History’ has been rescheduled for Sunday, Feb. 10 at 3:30 p.m. at the Sam Pomeranz Jewish Community Center, 5655 Thompson Rd., DeWitt. A question and answer session will be held immediately following the movie. The screening, which was originally planned for Jan. 20, is free and open to the public.

The Q&A panelists will be Kendall Phillips, Syracuse University professor; Alan Goldberg, Syracuse University professor emeritus; Robert Terrell, Syracuse University assistant professor; and Rhiannon Berry, Liverpool High School English teacher.

‘Who Will Write Our History’ is a story about who gets to tell the story. 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.

“It is an honor to help bring this film to Central New York so that this important story can be told,” said Marci Erlebacher, JCC of Syracuse executive director. “These brave people risked and sacrificed so much. We owe it to them to have their horrors finally exposed so that the evils committed will never be forgotten.”

Written, produced, and directed by Roberta Grossman and executive produced by Nancy Spielberg, ‘Who Will Write Our History’ mixes the writings of the Oyneg Shabes archive with new interviews, rarely seen footage and stunning dramatizations to transport viewers inside the Ghetto and into the lives of the film’s courageous resistance fighters. Now, for the first time, their story is told in this documentary featuring the voices of three-time Academy Award nominee Joan Allen and Academy Award winner Adrien Brody.

With 30,000 pages of writing, photographs, posters, essays and more, the Oyneg Shabes archive is the most important cache of in-the-moment, eyewitness accounts from the Holocaust. It documents not only how the Jews of the ghetto died, but how they lived. The film is based on the book of the same name by historian Samuel Kassow.

The following is an account by an Oyneg Shabes member from the archive.

“I consider it a sacred duty for everyone, whether proficient or not, to write down everything he has seen or heard from others about what the Germans have done... It must all be recorded without a single fact left out. And when the time comes—as it surely will—let the world read and know what the murders have done. When the mourners write about this time, this will be their most important material. When those who will avenge us will come to settle accounts, they will be able to rely on [our writings].”

The film screening is being sponsored by the JCC of Syracuse and Jewish Federation of Central New York.

For more information, contact the JCC at 315-445-2360 or