Sam and Serena Kassow
Professor Samuel D. Kassow ’66 with daughter Serena Kassow, who has a role in the film based on her father’s book. Photo by Anna Wloch.

Hartford, Connecticut, July 17, 2018 – Who Will Write Our History, a film about the secret archive of the Warsaw Ghetto—which the filmmakers call “the most important untold story of the Holocaust”—will have its world premiere this month at the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival. Based on the acclaimed book by Trinity College alumnus (Class of 1966) and faculty member Samuel D. Kassow, Charles H. Northam Professor of History, the 90-minute film reveals the gripping story of Emanuel Ringelblum and his resistance to Nazi oppression within the Warsaw Ghetto.

The San Francisco Jewish Film Festival will present screenings of the film in three San Francisco-area locations, beginning July 21:

  • Saturday, July 21, 6:15 p.m. at CineArts in Palo Alto, CA
  • Sunday, July 22, 4:00 p.m. at Castro Theater in San Francisco, CA
  • Saturday, July 28, 6:00 p.m. at Albany Twin Theater in Albany, CA

Kassow has received many accolades for his 2007 book, the full title of which is Who Will Write Our History? Emanuel Ringelblum, the Warsaw Ghetto, and the Oyneg Shabes Archive (Indiana University Press). The book has been published in eight languages. One reviewer for the New Republic magazine observed, “This may well be the most important book about history that anyone will ever read.”

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.

film opening reception
From left, Mandell JCC Executive Director David Jacobs, Trinity President Joanne Berger-Sweeney, Lisa Kassow, Sam Kassow, and Roberta Grossman gather on May 3 at a reception before a private advance film screening on campus. Photo by Nick Caito

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.

Earlier in 2018, members of the Trinity community had opportunities for sneak previews of Who Will Write Our History? An excerpt of the film was screened during a March 27 celebration of Trinity Hillel’s 70th anniversary, which took place in New York City at the Museum of Jewish Heritage. And on May 3, at Cinestudio on Trinity’s campus, there was a private advance screening of the film before final editing, followed by a discussion between Kassow and Roberta Grossman, writer and director of the documentary film project.

View a film trailer for Who Will Write Our History?

Visit the film’s Facebook page.

Find out more about the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival, including ticket purchase information.