Working Paper Series No. 14: “The Rhetoric of Buried Testimony: Memory and Absence from the Warsaw Ghetto”

Greetings to all of our colleagues in the Historical Justice and Memory Network! We are happy to present the newest issue of our series of unpublished papers on issues of historical dialogue, historical and transitional justice, and public and social memory. This season’s working paper is brought to us by Sarah Goldwasser, who is contributing an article, “The Rhetoric of Buried Testimony: Memory and Absence from the Warsaw Ghetto”.
We encourage you to add your own comments and questions. Thanks for reading!

We are currently taking submissions for the 2018-2019 Working Paper Series. If you are interested in publishing a paper in our series, please email co-editors Tim Wyman-McCarthy and Sigrun Schaumburg-Müller at


This paper suggests specific ways to interact with and learn from the still-buried segments of a sprawling Holocaust archive created in the Warsaw Ghetto known as the Ringelblum archive. It will argue that the distance between us and the still-buried portions of the Ringelblum archive can be meaningful through the ways in which we engage with its absence. The paper analyzes two approaches: studying around the absence—to learn about the international policies and reactions after the war which left the archive underground—and studying within the absence – a more rhetorical consideration of Jewish collective memory and sublime historical experience. It concludes by contextualizing how museums display and preserve discovered Holocaust testimonies, and how technology may or may not alter the museum goer’s interactions with testimony.


Sarah Goldwasser is a recent graduate of UC Berkeley with a B.A. in Rhetoric and minor in Creative Writing. Her senior honors thesis, which won departmental recognition, considered aspects of historical memory relating to the Warsaw Ghetto’s Ringelblum archive. She looks forward to presenting her research in Poland, Latvia, and South Africa in the coming months. A San Francisco Bay Area native, Sarah will return to Berkeley for law school in Fall 2018. She can be reached at

Working Paper

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Working Paper No. 14