Rachela Auerbach is the new patron of a square in Warsaw

Thanks to the efforts of the Emanuel Ringelblum Jewish Historical Institute, Rachela Auerbach has become the patron of the square in Warsaw. She was a member of the Oneg Shabbat group, involved in the creation of the underground Warsaw Ghetto Archive, known as the Ringelblum Archive. The decision to honor Rachela Auerbach was made by Warsaw Councilmen at the request of the Jewish Historical Institute. A ceremony to unveil a plaque with the new name of the square took place on October 18th, 2023.
The square, located between Pawia, Smocza and Dzielna Streets, has so far been named after Mieczyslaw Apfelbaum, who was said to be the leader of the ŻZW. It was one of the two, along with the Jewish Combat Organization, armed resistance formations in the Warsaw Ghetto. However, current historical research indicates that it is a fictional character, and even if he existed, he played no role in the activities of the ŻZW. As Prof. Andrzej Żbikowski of the Jewish Historical Institute demonstrated in his scholarly opinion, the fictionality of Mieczysław (David) Apfelbaum has been proven: “The leaders and soldiers of the ŻZW deserve a different, historically truthful commemoration, and the square should receive a new patron.”

The square is located near the place where the Ringelblum Archive was found. It was hidden in the basement of a building at 68 Nowolipki Street by members of the Oneg Shabbat group. It included Rachela Auerbach, a journalist, translator, and above all a heroine and social activist, who co-founded the Archive and strove to discover it after the war. During the German occupation, she ran a people’s kitchen in the ghetto, which allowed her to collect many key accounts. It was she who wrote down, among other things, the harrowing story of Jakub Krzepicki – an escapee from the Treblinka death camp. She is also one of only three people from the Oneg Shabbat organization who survived the Holocaust. After the war, Auerbach was active in the Central Jewish Historical Commission, the immediate predecessor of the Jewish Historical Institute.

Rachela Auerbach was a committed social activist, cooperating with the Jewish and Polish underground. Her entire family perished in the Holocaust, she herself, immediately after the war supported efforts to help find the Archive. She was unswervingly dedicated to the fight for memory and justice, so it was clear to us that she should be honored in Warsaw, the city for whose residents she did so much. – said Monika Krawczyk, director of JHI. In 1950, Auerbach emigrated to Israel, where she co-founded the Testimonies Department at the Yad Vashem Institute in Jerusalem. In the 1960s, she became involved in organizing the trial of German criminal Adolf Eichmann. She died in 1976. She is one of the protagonists of the permanent exhibition at the Emanuel Ringelblum Jewish Historical Institute, entitled “The Jewish People. “What we couldn’t shout to the world”, and the JHI publishing house published her diaries entitled “Writings from the Warsaw Ghetto”. “Writings from the Warsaw Ghetto.”.