Friday, March 1, 2013

Photographs from Łódź Ghetto - Litzmannstadt - Fotografowie getta

March 1945. Henryk Ross with a box of negatives he photographed in the Lodz Ghetto, Poland. Pictured in the photograph are Henryk Ross, Stefania Ross, Zenon Goldreich and his wife, and Bronka and Jakob Urbach.

Henryk Rozencwajg-Ross (1910-1991) was a Jewish photographer employed by the Statistics Department of the Judenrat (Jewish Council) in the Łódź Ghetto. His job enabled him to document Jewish life in the ghetto, which he did, with thousands of prints and negatives.

During the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto in August 1944, Ross and his wife Stefania buried a box of negatives in the field next to his house on 12 Jagielonska Street in the ghetto. The negatives were shot by Ross during the years 1940-1944.

Ross survived the Holocaust and returned to Łódź  where he located and dug up the documentary material he had buried underground before the liquidation of the ghetto.

Mendel Grossman was another Jewish photographer in the Łódź (Litzmannstadt) ghetto, born in 1913. He was a slim man of less than average height with sloping shoulders, his coat hanging on him as if it were not cut to his size, even his shoes appearing too large for him.

Grossman distributed many of his photographs; those he was unable to distribute, he tried to hide. In August 1944, shortly before the final liquidation of the Litzmannstadt Ghetto, he hid ca. 10.000 negatives, showing scenes from the Ghetto. He was deported to a labor camp in Koenigs Wusterhausen and stayed there until 16 April 1945. Ill and exhausted, he was shot by Nazis during a forced death march, still holding on to his camera

Many other pictures, (some of them by Ross and Grossman) were hidden by Nachman Zonabend (Natek). Nachman Zonabend was an inmate of the Łódź Ghetto from 1940 to 1945. In August 1944, following the liquidation of the ghetto, the Germans assigned him to a work unit whose task was to clean up the deserted ghetto. He succeeded in hiding parts of the ghetto archives, as well as photographs and art works of ghetto photographers and artists. He recovered these materials after the liberation of Łódź in January 1945. In 1947, Nachman Zonabend donated the bulk of his collection to the YIVO Archives. These are fragmentary records of the Eldest of the Jews of the Łódź Ghetto, by which name the Jewish ghetto administration was known.

Mendel Grossman at work in the darkroom

Nachman ZonabendI was among the group of inmates whom the Germans had left in the ghetto after the last deportation in August, 1944. We were to pack and ship the goods and equipment left behind by those Jews who had been deported. One day, during a moment when the Nazi guards were not paying attention, I slipped unnoticed into the deserted print shop of the ghetto administration and came out with a complete set of Rumkowski’s announcements. Next, I went into the offices of the Secretariat, at 1 Dworska Street, which handled Rumkowski’s correspondence. The papers that I found there, which had once been so meticulously sorted and filed, were in complete disarray. I stuffed them in large glass jars and later buried the jars in a remote spot. I also had another hiding place where I kept photographs, drawings and paintings made by ghetto artists.
One rainy Sunday in October, 1944, as we were marching under escort to the bath, we passed the former post office building, 4 Kościelny Square. I broke away from the group and ran inside. As a former employee of the ghetto post office, I knew the place well. Making my way through the silent corridors and empty rooms, I reached the back door and entered the adjoining house where the ghetto archives were located. Several suitcases bulging with documents stood on the floor covered with scattered papers. Evidently these materials were of special value and were meant to be taken to a safe place.
Not one minute could be wasted. I dragged the heavy valises down the stairs and into a deserted courtyard. In the middle of the courtyard I saw a well which turned out to be completely dry. With great difficulty, I brought the valises over to the well and dropped them in. The ground was strewn with quilt covers and pillows; their former owners were probably either dying in slave labor camps or had already been immolated in the crematoria at Auschwitz (Oświęcim). I gathered the covers and pillows and stuffed them inside the well, hoping that this would keep the documents dry and protect from harm.

Plunderers were already at work in the former ghetto, looking for treasures abandoned by the Jews. Despite the threat they posed, I pulled the suitcases out of the well and carried them to my apartment. Later on, I dug up the glass jars. I was relieved when everything was finally secure. An important record of the history of the Lódz ghetto had been saved.

In January, 1945, after the liberation of Lódz by the Red Army, I went back to Kościelny Square. Plunderers were already at work in the former ghetto, looking for treasures abandoned by the Jews. Despite the threat they posed, I pulled the suitcases out of the well and carried them to my apartment. Later on, I dug up the glass jars. I was relieved when everything was finally secure. An important record of the history of the Lódz ghetto had been saved.
On many occasions I have been asked to explain why I took all these risks to secure these documents, whose contents I did not even know, in a place as desolate as the ghetto was then, and at a time when the rest of us inmates were looking for places to hide themselves rather than a batch of seemingly worthless papers. Furthermore, what motivated me in the first moments of freedom to return to the abandoned streets of the former ghetto, now overrun with dangerous looters, in order to bring these moldy papers to safety?
From my first days in the ghetto I was close to a small circle of people who strove to document for posterity all that was happening around us. As the ghetto mailman, whose special task it was to deliver relief payments to welfare recipients, I used to come to the homes of poverty-stricken families. I will never be able to describe the destitution, starvation, sickness, despair, injustice and loneliness which I saw there. Fortunately, there were others who have done it, such as the photographers Mendel Grossman and Henryk Rozencwajg-Ross, who preserved images of the ghetto on film. I was a close friend of both men and was intimately familiar with their work as well as that of their colleagues, Rubiczek and Borkowski. I knew about the daily chronicle which was being meticulously compiled by scholars working in the Department of Statistics. I was involved with artists, writers and poets whose common goals was to preserve the evidence of the horrendous crime we were all witnessing, and I often participated in their discussions and meetings. Shortly before the liquidation of the ghetto I was able to hide some of their photographs and art works. I also made a mental note of the location of other materials to which I had no access at the time.

W Archiwum Państwowym w Łodzi przechowywanych jest 27 albumów z Litzmannstadt getto, w których jest ponad 15 tysięcy fotografii zrobionych w latach 1940-44 w łódzkim getcie. Albumy zostały opisane jeszcze w czasie wojny. Na każdym są odręczne informacje w języku niemieckim. Niemal każdy zawiera zdjęcia wydziałów bądź resortów pracy: zdrowia, szkolny, aprowizacji. Są na nich przede wszystkim ludzie przy pracy i wykonywane przez nich produkty: buty ze słomy, dywany, wiadra. Jest też odrębny album o szkołach, szpitalach, policji. Wiele fotografii pokazuje po prostu ludzi, którzy pozują do zdjęć, jakby chcieli przetrwać wojnę, choćby na zdjęciach. Zdjęcia nie są podpisane nazwiskami autorów, ale bez wątpienia byli nimi przede wszystkim Mendel Grosman i Henryk Ross, oficjalnie zatrudnieni w Wydziale Statystycznym.
Nachman Zonabend giving support. Ghetto had their own money!

Deportation. Mendel Grossman taking "official" pictures. Grossman tog as well non authorized pictures and hid the camera under his big coat. 

Bakery number 3 in the Ghetto. Picture by Mordka Mendel Grossman.

Fotografowie getta dobrze jednak wiedzieli, że byli świadkami wydarzeń ważnych dla historii, a ich zdjęcia mogły pokazać to, co działo się w getcie naprawdę. Dlatego mając dostęp do materiałów dla innych zakazanych i niedostępnych, robili też zdjęcia nieoficjalne, będące dokumentem życia w zamkniętej dzielnicy, i rozdawali je przyjaciołom i znajomym. Zdarzało się, że fotografowali sytuacje niebezpieczne - z ukrycia, z narażeniem życia. Jak choćby wywózkę dzieci we wrześniu 1942 roku. Grosman dawał też swoje zdjęcia młodszym kolegom.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Warszawa mur getta - Warsaw Ghetto wall - Reise nach Warschau

Zawsze cos nowego. Nowe zdjęcia, nowe szczegóły i nowe przemyślenia.
Warszawa Getto. En av de första gränsdragningarna runt Lila Gettot. De blåa ringarna visar var bilderna med den putsade muren har tagits. DS - Dom Sierot - dr. Janusz Korczaks barnhem. Senare låg gettogränsen bl.a. längs de röda linjen, mitten av Wielkagatan och ett metallnätstängsel delade Siennagatan där Dom Sierot låg fram till den 5 augusti 1942 då barnen och personalen fördes till Treblinka där de mördades.

„Reise nach Warschau” to album fotografii, wykonanych przez oficera Wehrmachtu
Jurgena Josta podczas dwudniowej wycieczki z Poznania do Warszawy w czerwcu
1941 roku. Większość zdjęć zostało zrobionych w Warszawie. Jedno z nich
przedstawia mur getta i w oddali Dom Sierot (DS) Korczaka na Siennej 16. Mur
był otynkowany tylko od strony aryjskiej.

Na Siennej - od strony Marszałkowskiej - były dwa różne mury. Jeden otynkowany - drugi
surowy ceglany. Wygląd zależy od datowania zdjęć. Granica getta w tym rejonie (podobnie
jak w innych) zmieniała się na przestrzeni czasu. Pierwszy mur, ten otynkowany, przecinał
ulicę Sienną na wysokości podwórek między ul. Zielną a ul. Wielką do marca 1941. Po zmianie granic getta mur dzielił ulicę Wielką  - to był nowy mur, bez tynku. Wszyscy w Warszawie wiedzieli, co było za nieotynkowanym murem...

Zdjęcia niemieckiego żołnierza z 1941 roku
 På skylten står: Frisör...
Korsningen Siennagatan och Wielkagatan i det Lilla Gettot. Foto: Joe Heydecker

 Sienna gatan på den ariska sidan. På skylten står: Frukost, MIDDAG, kvällsmat, rum att hyra. Bakom muren syns Janusz Korczaks Dom Sierot vid Sienna 16.

Wrong description above. It is Próżna Street at the level of Swietokrzyska str.

Korsningen Siennagatan och Wielkagatan i det Lilla Gettot. Man kan se början till en mur längs Wielkagatan.

Korsningen Siennagatan och Wielkagatan. Man kan se en mur längs Wielkagatan och stolpar och stängsel längs Siennagatan.

Korsningen Siennagatan och Wielkagatan. Man kan se en mur längs Wielkagatan och stolpar och stängsel längs Siennagatan. De gående finns således på den ariska sidan. Bilden är troligen tagen under vintern 1942-43 då alla invånarna från Lilla Gettot deporterades och mördades i Treblinka, bland de, min mormor, morfar alla kusiner, dr. Janusz Korczak och 265 000 andra!

Na Siennej (od strony Marszalkowskiej) były dwa różne mury - jeden otynkowany a drugi surowy. Wyglad zależy od datowania zdjęć. Granica getta w tym rejonie (podobnie jak w innych) się zmieniała. Pierwszy mur, ten otynkowany, przecinał ulicę Sienną na wysokości podwórek między Zielną a Wielką (do marca 1941), po zmianie granic przebiegał po środku ulicy Wielkiej - to był nowy mur. Ze zdjęć wynika, że ten pierwszy był otynkowany, ten drugi nie.

At Sienna street (looking from the Marszalkowska) there were two different walls - one raw and one plastered. Appearance depends on the dating of images or changes in ghetto boundaries. Ghetto boundary in this area (as also in the others) was changed. The first wall that was plastered, was the height of the courtyards between the Zielna street and Wielka street (until March 1941). After the change of the borders of the ghetto, the wall was raised in the middle of the Wielka street. From the pictures we know that it was raw, not plastered.

Tu inny mur. Zdaje się że to Sienna przy Żelaznej i tez otynkowany z jednej strony....
Ovan en gettomur. På Sienna gatan (nära Zelazna). Här ser man klart att muren hade två olika väggar - en rå och en putsade. Utseende beror på från vilken sida man tittar på muren. Råytan mot gettot och den putsade mot den ariska sidan. Gettogräns i flera områden ändrades. Den första muren som byggdes parallellt med Marszalkowska (en fin gata i Warszawa) var muren mot den ariska sidan är putsad. På bilderna överst ser man en mur som korsade Sienna gatan i höjd av Zielna och Wielkagatan. Efter ändringen av gettogränserna förflyttade man muren till mitten av Wielkagatan. Den nya muren, en bit längre ifrån Marszalkowskagatan hade då bara oputsade väggar på båda sidor. Alla visste var gettot fanns och vad föregick bakom murarna.