Dr. Ringelblum’s work ensured that future generations would know the story of the Warsaw Ghetto
In 1940, soon after invading Poland, the Nazis established the Warsaw Ghetto. They forced the Jews, 30% of the total population, to relocate into a so called “Jewish quarter” — only 2.4% of the total area of the city. The area was walled off and the people inside were persecuted; they faced constant starvation and the threat of transportation to death or labour camps.
At great risk to their lives, Dr. Emmanuel Ringelblum and his team of 200 assistants set about the task of documenting life inside the Ghetto. Not only were the actions of the Nazis recorded, but also the many ways in which the Jews kept their culture, hope and humour alive.
They secretly educated their children, studied, worshipped, held concerts, theatrical performance, intellectual debates, and even weddings. They also organised an underground military resistance movement which fought back in the Warsaw uprising.
Dr Ringelblum wrote and collected an estimated 25,000 pages of notes, diaries, official documents and underground newspapers. He even recorded the many jokes which circulated in the Ghetto. He was often confronted with the question: “Why are you not resisting?” But his battle to create and preserve “The Notes” was his own personal resistance. He wanted to have an accurate record which could be used to inform the British government of what was happening to the Jews at the hands of the Nazis. His hope was that if the Allies knew, they would respond militarily.
Ringelbum did succeed in smuggling some of the notes to London, and finally, when the Ghetto was being evacuated by the Nazis, he hid the notes so that they could be recovered after the war.
Ringelblum did not survive the war. He was given the chance to escape from the death cell at Pawiak prison, but he chose to stay with his wife and son. His work ensured that future generations would know the story of the Warsaw Ghetto.
This play, Notes From the Warsaw Ghetto by Neil Cole, allows us to know his story
Neil Cole is a former politician and Associate Professor with the University of Melbourne. He suffers from bipolar disorder and for many years has spoken out as an advocate for mental health issues.
He has been prolific as a playwright, his numerous productions including, Alive at Williamstown Pier & The Campaign. Some of his work has dealt with the worlds of politics or mental health, but he has also taken a particular interest in the Holocaust. Some of the inspiration for Notes from the Warsaw Ghetto came from listening to the stories of survivors while researching The Trial of Adolf Eichmann. He knew that these were stories that needed to be told and that theatre was the place to tell them.
Production: Notes From the Warsaw Ghetto – The Story of Dr. EmmanuelRingelblum
Venue: The Carlton Court House, 349 Drummond St Carlton
Season Dates: April 28 – May 16
Session times: 8pm – Thurs, Fri & Sat 6.30pm Wednesdays and Saturdays
Tickets: $25 full / 15 Concession
Bookings: 9347 6142 or www.lamam.com.au