Graduate Theological Union

CJS Director Seidman remembers her father who documented life in Warsaw ghetto

Recently, Naomi Seidman, Director of the Center for Jewish Studies, traveled to Warsaw in commemoration of the uprising and the publication of her father's diary into Polish. Upon her return, the j profiled the important work her father did. An excerpt follows:

“My father was the archivist of the pre-war Warsaw Jewish community,” Seidman said in an interview. “He wrote in Polish, Hebrew and Yiddish, and was a Ph.D. of Jewish history.”

Seidman’s ghetto archives often are overshadowed by the famous Emmanuel Ringelblum Archives — a treasure trove of diaries, memoirs, artwork and artifacts buried in 1943 in three caches, two of which were found a few years after the war. Those materials are now housed in the Jewish Historical Institute in Warsaw. ...

Hillel Seidman’s life was quite different. Whereas Ringelblum was a secular Marxist, Seidman was a Hassidic Jew, though a bit of an iconoclast. He spoke French, was well read and highly educated. Before the war, he served his community as official archivist.

He took those skills with him to the ghetto. There, he found a job as archivist and secretary to the Judenrat, the Jewish council set up by the Nazis to maintain order in the ghetto. His diary, written in Yiddish, offers a fascinating glimpse into life in the ghetto, and scholars have studied it ever since.

Original article "Berkeley scholar exalts father who archived life in the ghetto"

Category: