PARIS, JANUARY 27 – On 27 January, International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust, the documentary film Who Will Write Our History? will be screened at UNESCO’s Headquarters (Paris, 7 pm local time) and, simultaneously, at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington DC, the Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles (USA) the Emanuel Ringelblum Jewish Historical Institute in Warsaw (Poland), and in 300 cinema theatres, museums, UNESCO Field Offices and United Nations Information Centres spread over 45 countries, Italy included.
About 60 theaters in Italy will show the documentary, directed by Roberta Grossman and produced by Nancy Spielberg, both from the USA, the first feature film about Oyneg Shabes, the group formed by historian Emanuel Ringelblum in the Warsaw Ghetto to document the extreme conditions of life in the Ghetto and the destruction of the Jews in Poland. The Emanuel Ringelblum Archives were inscribed on UNESCO’s Memory of the World Register in 1999. 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 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.
Now, for the first time, their story is told as a feature documentary. Who Will Write Our History mixes the writings of the Oyneg Shabes archive with new interviews, rarely seen footage and stunning dramatizations to transport us inside the Ghetto and the lives of these courageous resistance fighters. They defied their murderous enemy with the ultimate weapon – the truth – and risked everything so that their archive would survive the war, even if they did not.
The ceremony of the International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust at UNESCO will begin at 6.30 pm with addresses by the Organization’s Director-General, Audrey Azoulay, and the President of the Paris Shoa Memorial, Éric de Rothschild. A prayer in memory of the victims of the Holocaust will follow, ahead of the screening.
A roundtable debate will follow the screening. It will bring together Ms Grossman and Ms Spielberg alongside Professor Samuel Kassow, the American historian pf Ashkenazi Jewry who authored Who Will Write Our History? Rediscovering a Hidden Archive From the Warsaw Ghetto. Stephen Smith, holder of the UNESCO Chair on Genocide Education, will moderate the debate, which will be streamed on Facebook Live.
The event is organized in cooperation with the Katahdin Foundation, the Paris Shoa Memorial and the film’s distributing company, Abramorama, with the support of the SNCF (French railway company), Canada’s Permanent Delegation to UNESCO and the World Jewish Congress.
The General Assembly proclaimed the International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust in 2005, choosing the anniversary date of the liberation by Soviet troops of the Nazi concentration and extermination camp of Auschwitz-Birkenau on 27 January 1945. (@OnuItalia)