Berit Engen WEFT and D'RASH: A Thousand Jewish Tapestries
 

LOST BUT FOUND (III)
– Stored in Metal Boxes and Milk Cans Were Books, Tears, and Candy Wrappers

 

Included on the UNESCO Memory of the World list in 1999, the Underground Archive of the Warsaw Ghetto is a unique collection of testimonies about the extermination of Polish Jewry.
 
Warsaw, 1946, in the flattened ghetto: survivors Hirsh Wasser and Rachela Auerbach locate the ruins of the Jewish school on 68 Nowolipki Street where in 1943 Oyneg Shabbos (codename for a secret organization led by Jewish historian Dr. Emanuel Ringelblum) had hidden in its basement ten metal boxes with a variety of documents and texts, recent interviews, and artifacts documenting life in the ghetto during the German occupation. Miraculously, they found the boxes.
 
The tapestries show the boxes and three milk cans (of which two have been found) being hidden underground during the frantic ghetto uprising; the quiet scene after the deportation; and lastly, their contents which were collected by people awaiting their murder – now neatly placed on shelves in the POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews in Warsaw.
 
In recounting this piece of history, I included a fictional bird. It is the Bird of Mourning, mentioned in a poem by the Yiddish poet Itzik Manger. He wrote it upon his return after the war to Warsaw, the center of Yiddish culture. He found nothing left of the great and vibrant Jewish community, only the Shive-Foygl.
 
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