Memories unearthed from the Lodz Ghetto

An vaunt of unearthed photographs is charity a distressing glimpse into an unforgivable partial of the past. With Chip Reid, we expose it again:

Krysia Rosenstein speaks of a childhood of nightmares: “And they were always the same. we was drifting above the poor to save myself like a bird. Always the same.”

Born during World War II, Rosenstein spent the first years of her life in a Nazi-controlled poor in Łódź, Poland.

“It was a work camp, but it was worker labor really,” she told Reid. “In sequence to be kept alive you had to work. And they gave very little rations. There was a lot of hunger.”

The Łódź Ghetto (pronounced ludge in Yiddish) was one of hundreds of Nazi ghettos opposite Europe, used to apart Jews from the rest of the population. Most residents were sent to thoroughness camps, unless illness or starvation killed them first.


Ghetto police are graphic with a lady behind spiny wire, in the Lodz Ghetto, 1942.

Abraham Neuman, now 94, is also a survivor from the ghetto. “I am undetermined what kept me alive,” he said. “We were a family of 6 kids and parents. Nobody survived.”

“When people were taken out of the poor and sent to other camps, did people think, ‘Well, maybe I’m going to a better place’? Or did know what was going to happen?” Reid asked.

“The first time when they take you out from the poor you didn’t know, since we didn’t have no newspaper, no radio,” Neuman said. “We didn’t know what was going on in the world. All they was thinking, ‘Maybe a spectacle will come.'”

Two hundred and forty thousand Jews were brought into the Łódź Ghetto. By the time the fight ended, fewer than 900 were left.

The Łódź Ghetto is now the theme of a photography vaunt at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, called “Memory Unearthed.” The photos are by a man named Henryk Ross, a Polish Jew who lived inside the poor as both restrained and central photographer.

One picture shows a mass deportation. “We can see these people being led to possibly an murder stay or a thoroughness camp,” pronounced curator Kristen Gresh.

Ross had shown up at the poor with a camera, and since he had knowledge in photography, he was named one of the central photographers. His pursuit was to take ID photos. In addition, Gresh said, he was reserved to do promotion stories. Ross’ “happy” photos were meant to show that life was just ideally normal in the ghetto.

But the reality of life in the poor was so horrific, so unfathomable, Ross knew he had to sketch it for the rest of the universe to see.

“He was using his camera as a arms of resistance,” Gersh said, “and it was truly an act of insurgency to go snap a shot, or censor somewhere to take photographs.”

“Was he risking his life?” Reid asked.

“Absolutely. He was risking his own life, and he was risking his wife’s life as well.”


Henryk Ross in the 1970s, demonstrating his oblique photography.

Ross demonstrated how he hid his camera in a 1979 documentary, “Memories of the Eichmann Trial.” “I would open my coat, like this, and keep going,” he said.

Committed to leaving a chronological record, Ross eventually put 6,000 negatives in a box, and buried them.

“He wasn’t certain that he himself was going to survive,” Gersh said. “He miraculously was one of the 877 survivors in Jan 1945 when the Soviets released the Łódź Ghetto. And then months after he was means to go collect it, and literally unearth this box of memories.”


Excavating the box of negatives and papers that Henryk Ross buried in the poor at 12 Jagielonska Street, Lodz, Poland, Mar 1945.

Ground water broken about half of the negatives. Even those that survived were damaged. Yet Gersh pronounced the repairs to the negatives — as if they are in abandon — creates a abdominal outcome to the images.

“So the fact that some of the negatives were partially broken kind of adds to the exhibit?” asked Reid.

“Absolutely,” she replied. “It feels that the photographs themselves are flushed with the story of what people were vital through. So it feels very symbolic.”

Krysia Rosenstein went to the vaunt to learn what her family lived through. Her mom died shortly after the war, and her father refused to speak about it.


Krysia Rosenstein finds a photo of her mom on the muster wall. 

Was she at all demure to go? “No. No. we wanted to see,” she said. “Because my memories are very limited. we don’t remember too much.”

She described the knowledge as “very, very emotional, very, very sad. And so then we came to the last room. And there was a whole wall of pictures, one after the other.”

And then, a informed face.

“My father, my mother, and myself,” she cried. “And we don’t have any pictures of my father, my mother, and myself. we didn’t have — it was just unbelievable. Unbelievable. Unbelievable. It was like a spectacle happened to me. It was so much fun and so much unhappiness at the same time.”

On that same wall where Rosenstein found her family, many faces will go unnamed … but since of Henryk Ross, not forgotten.

For some-more info:

  • “Memory Unearthed: The Lodz Ghetto Photographs of Henryk Ross” at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, by Jul 30 | Ticket information
  • Exhibition Catalogue: “Memory Unearthed: The Lodz Ghetto Photographs of Henryk Ross”

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