A man of towering intellectual accomplishment and extraordinary tenacity, Emmanuel Ringelblum devoted his life to recording the fate of his people at the hands of the Germans. Convinced that he must remain in the Warsaw Ghetto to complete his work, and rejecting an invitation to flee to refuge on the Aryan side, Ringelbaum, his wife, and their son were eventually betrayed to the Germans and killed.
This book represents Ringelbaum's attempt to answer the questions he knew history would ask about the Polish people: what did the Poles do while millions of Jews were being led to the stake? What did the Polish underground do? What did the Government-in-Exile do? Was it inevitable that the Jews, looking their last on this world, should have to see indifference or even gladness on the faces of their neighbors? These questions have haunted Polish-Jewish relations for the last fifty years. Behind them are forces that have haunted Polish-Jewish relations for a thousand years.