Print | Email  

Lodz Ghetto Album

by: Leslie Bunder - Last updated: 2004-09-19

Lodz Ghetto Life

Lodz Ghetto Life

The Lodz ghetto in Poland was a squalid home to several hundred thousand Jews and several thousand Gypsies who were forced to live in it by the Nazis. 

In 1940 the Germans sealed the ghetto and made it into both a slave labour camp where the Nazis used those living as cheap labour to produce everything from textiles to munitions and also a prison for Jews en route to death camps .
Lodz had been a home to Jews for many years and over time became the second largest Jewish city in Europe, after Warsaw.
But as soon as the Germans invaded Poland things were turned upside down and what had once been a thriving and vibrant Jewish community soon became a place where in the ghetto constant fear was always in peoples' mind and where people were only kept alive as long as they could work.
Over the four years of the ghetto, 95% of the inmates were killed and by the time it was liberated by the Soviets, less than 1,000 people survived.
In Lodz Ghetto Album we get to see first hand many images that until now have never been shown.
The photographs were taken by Henryk Ross who was employed as the official ghetto photographer and as the Nazis started to speed up its liquidation of the ghetto in 1944, he hide the photos.  Having survived the war, he returned back to Lodz and retrieved the photos. After the war only a handful of his original photos appeared. When Ross died in 1991, his full collection of images was acquired by the Archive of Modern Conflict.
As well as images of daily toil, we see pictures of Jews who were seconded by the Nazis to act as their "local" police. There are pictures of children dressed as police, playing as ghetto policemen,  people working and even images of ghetto photographer Ross and his own wedding.
As we look at the photos, it strikes home that these images are likely to be the last recorded of those who perished in the war. One can only wonder who they were, who were their relatives, what did they do?  Ross provides the images and shows that the photo can provide more than just words can offer.
The 100 photos in the book are raw and show images many people may feel uncomfortable with, from Jews acting as agents for the nazis through to a child's birthday party, Ross captures all aspects of how life was cruelly run in the ghetto. Images of smiles and laughter shock and show how the human soul seeks to overcome the most dreadful of situations. 
A stunning, challenging and thought providing book.  
Lodz Ghetto Album (published by Chris Boot) - £24.95