As the years pass, fewer survivors remain from the period of horror that was the Holocaust. It is all the more important to preserve as much as possible of accounts of this period. One of the biggest concentration of Jews in Europe during WW II was in the Warsaw Ghetto, where hundreds of thousands of Jews were confined within the boundaries of a deliberately sealed-off section of the city. Though the ghetto was eventually razed (most of its occupants had been deported, mainly to the extermination camp at Treblinka; fewer still had managed to escape; and many brave souls had perished while fighting the Nazis in the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising), evidence of the ghetto's existence and of what had occurred there was found among the rubble, thanks to the efforts of Emanuel Ringelblum, historian of the Warsaw Ghetto. Ringelblum had overseen the project called Oneg Shabbat which served to document the happenings in the ghetto, and of the atrocities perpetrated by the Nazis (Ringelblum and his family were executed by the Nazis sometime in 1944).
This book is not a reproduction of Ringelblum's Warsaw ghetto archives, but but a compilation of testimonies by twenty-nine eyewitnesses who had been Jews living either in the ghetto during the course of the war, or who had been hiding on the Aryan side of Warsaw. Nine of the accounts were written by women; five were written by members of the Jewish Police that oversaw other Jews in the ghetto (many of whom were not looked upon too kindly by their fellow Jews on account of the job they did); the eyewitnesses came from a wide variety of professions (doctors, shopkeepers), and the ages of the eyewitnesses range from eleven years of age to forty-five, so readers get insights from diverse perspectives. The fate of a few of these diarists are known, but the fate of many others remains a mystery, presumably dead.
The accounts are organized in a chronological manner, from the beginnings of the ghetto (built using Jewish labor and Jewish funds); ghetto institutions; roundups, selections, deportations; passive and active resistance inside the ghetto; on the other side of the wall; and, liberation. This is followed by notes on the chapters; a glossary; biographies of the writers; and, an index.