The Last Journey of the Jews of Lodz
This is a past event. Sunday, February 24 at 12:00pm 5:00pm
Oregon Jewish Museum and Center for Holocaust Education, Main Gallery 724 N.W. Davis St., Portland, OR
In conjunction with Memory Unearthed: The Lodz Ghetto Photographs of Henryk Ross, at the Portland Art Museum.
Together the two exhibitions will offer an extraordinarily rare glimpse of life inside the Lodz Ghetto through the lens of Polish Jewish photojournalist Henryk Ross (1910–1991). Situated in the heart of Poland, the city of Lodz was occupied by German forces in 1939. The Nazis consolidated the area’s Jewish population—more than 160,000 people—into a poor industrial section of the city, sealing it off from the outside world and making the Lodz Ghetto second in population only to the Warsaw Ghetto in German-occupied Europe. During its four years of operation, a quarter of its inhabitants died of starvation, while most were deported to concentration and death camps. Upon liberation by the Red Army in 1945, only 877 Jews remained alive in Lodz Ghetto.
Henryk Ross, confined to the ghetto in 1940, was put to work by the Nazi regime as a bureaucratic photographer for the Jewish Administration’s Statistics department. He took official photographs for Jewish identification cards, as well as images used as propaganda that promoted the ghetto’s efficiency. Unofficially—and at great risk—Ross documented the brutal realities of life under Nazi rule, culminating in the deportation of thousands to death camps at Chelmno and Auschwitz. Hoping to preserve a historical record, Ross buried his negatives in 1944. He returned for them after Lodz’s liberation, discovering that more than half of the original 6,000 survived. He spent the remainder of his life working with the images to tell his story of the Lodz Ghetto. Some 125 of these indelible scenes are included in Memory Unearthed, comprising a visual and emotional meditation on a harrowing moment in history and pointing to the power of the photographic medium. Organized by the Art Gallery of Ontario.