NEH Awards $250,000 Grant for Production of Film Based on Book by Samuel D. Kassow ’66

‘Who Will Write Our History?’ Documentary Film to Release in January 2018

A street scene image from the film. (Photo by Anna Wloch)

Hartford, Connecticut, May 2, 2017 – Katahdin Productions, a nonprofit documentary production company that is adapting for the screen a book by Samuel D. Kassow ’66, Charles H. Northam Professor of History at Trinity College, recently announced that it has received a $250,000 National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) production grant for the film project.

Kassow has received many accolades for his 2007 book, Who Will Write Our History? Emanuel Ringelblum, the Warsaw Ghetto, and the Oyneg Shabes Archive (Indiana University Press), including a review by the New Republic magazine, which observed, “This may well be the most important book about history that anyone will ever read.”

Roberta Grossman, writer and director of the documentary film project, said, “We are honored to receive funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities to help us bring Sam Kassow’s masterwork to the screen. Without the NEH, serious films about history and why it matters, such as Who Will Write Our History, would rarely get off the ground.”


From left, Nancy Spielberg, Roberta Grossman, and
Samuel D. Kassow '66 (Photo by Sherry Peters)

Grossman said that the 90-minute film, which is in post-production, is anticipated to be released in January 2018. The executive producer of the film is Nancy Spielberg, sister to Steven Spielberg.

Who Will Write Our History reveals the gripping story of Emanuel Ringelblum and his resistance to Nazi oppression within the Warsaw Ghetto. In Nazi-occupied Warsaw of 1940, Ringelblum established Oyneg Shabes, a clandestine organization chartered to document all facets of Jewish life under Hitler and to preserve a historical record for an unknown audience in an uncertain future. Though decimated by murders and deportations, the group persevered in its work into the spring of 1943. Before Ringelblum and his family perished in March 1944, he managed to hide thousands of the Oyneg Shabes documents in milk cans and tin boxes. In 1946 the first of the buried time capsules was discovered, followed by a second capsule in 1950.

Kassow said, “The Ringelblum archive in the Warsaw Ghetto is a stirring reminder that one could resist the Nazis with pen and paper as well as guns. Of the 60 men and women in the Ringelblum team, only three survived the war. But their collective heroism was not in vain. The ‘time capsules’ they buried sent a message that the doomed Polish Jews were not faceless, anonymous victims but real people, members of a proud and resilient nation. This is an amazing story and it deserves to be told in a film.”

As a scholarly authority on the subject, Kassow served as lead historian for two of eight galleries of the POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews, which opened in October 2014 on the site of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising.

For more information about Who Will Write Our History? and to view a film trailer, visit whowillwriteourhistory.com.