Memory Unearthed: The Lodz Ghetto Photographs Of Henryk Ross
“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.
Art Gallery of Ontario
Review from Chicago Tribune
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Downloadable Photos & Credits/Captions
Lester & Edward Anixter Family Foundation
Brenda and Lance Feis
Women’s Leadership Committee of Illinois Holocaust Museum
David C. & Sarajean Ruttenberg Arts Foundation
Golder Family Foundation
Bob and Janey Jakubowich
Magnus Charitable Trust
Susan and Richard Wellek
Museum of Contemporary Photography
Consulate General of Israel to the Midwest
Chicago Jewish Historical Society
American Society of Media Photographers Chicago/Midwest
Photo credits: All photos courtesy of the Art Gallery of Ontario, Gift of the Archive of Modern Conflict.