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Memory Unearthed: The Lodz Ghetto Photographs Of Henryk Ross

Special Exhibitions Gallery
September 22, 2019 – January 12, 2020

“I buried my negatives in the ground in order that there should be some record of our tragedy.” — Henryk Ross

Imprisoned in Europe’s second-largest ghetto in 1940, Ross was assigned to take official identification photographs for the Nazi-controlled Jewish Administration. The Nazis forbade him from taking any unofficial images, under penalty of death. Yet against the explicit directives, Ross put his life in jeopardy to document history, sneaking his camera through cracks in doors and underneath his overcoat.

As the final residents of the ghetto were deported en masse to concentration camps, Ross stayed behind to clean up and bury his precious negatives. When the ghetto was liberated in 1945, Ross was able to excavate and recover about half of the buried negatives – one of the largest visual records of its kind to survive the Holocaust.

As its centerpiece, Memory Unearthed presents an album of contact prints created by Ross; a powerful summation of his memories that captures his personal narrative. Artifacts, including Ross’ identity card and ghetto notices, accompany the haunting images. There is also video footage of the trial of Adolf Eichmann, where Ross’ images and testimony were used as evidence of Nazi war crimes.

More Links:

Art Gallery of Ontario
Review from Chicago Times

For the Press:

View Press Release
Downloadable Photos & Credits/Captions

Supporting Sponsors:

Lester & Edward Anixter Family Foundation

Brenda and Lance Feis

Women’s Leadership Committee of Illinois Holocaust Museum

Contributing Sponsors:

Linda Heimann

Carol Maxon

David C. & Sarajean Ruttenberg Arts Foundation

Additional Funders:

Golder Family Foundation

Bob and Janey Jakubowich

Magnus Charitable Trust

Susan and Richard Wellek

Community Partners:

Museum of Contemporary Photography

Consulate General of Israel to the Midwest

Chicago Jewish Historical Society

American Society of Media Photographers Chicago/Midwest

Media Sponsors:

Photo credits: All photos courtesy of the Art Gallery of Ontario, Gift of the Archive of Modern Conflict.

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