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
Together, Memory Unearthed at the Portland Art Museum and The Last Journey of the Jews of Lodz at the Oregon Jewish Museum and Center for Holocaust Education (OJMCHE) 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. More than 200,000 people were forcibly relocated and moved through the ghetto during its four years of operation; a quarter of its inhabitants died of starvation and disease, 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 forced to serve as a bureaucratic photographer, making official photographs for Jewish identification cards and images used as propaganda promoting the ghetto’s efficiency. At great risk, Ross also documented the brutal realities of life under Nazi rule, culminating in the deportation of tens of thousands to death camps at Chelmno and Auschwitz. With the hope of preserving a historical record, Ross buried more than 6,000 of his negatives in 1944. When he returned for them after Lodz’s liberation, Ross found that more than half of the negatives had survived, and he spent the rest of his life sharing the images. Some 125 of these photographs are included in Memory Unearthed; a visual and emotional meditation on a harrowing moment in history that demonstrates the power of the photograph.The companion exhibition, on view at OJMCHE, explores Ross’s efforts to design and publish The Last Journey of the Jews of Lodz; a multi-language book about life in the ghetto illustrated with his photographs. The Portland Art Museum and OJMCHE will serve together as the first West Coast venues for this critical body of work.
Organized by the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto, Canada and presented in partnership with the Oregon Jewish Museum and Center for Holocaust Education.
Curated for the Portland Art Museum by Julia Dolan, Ph.D., The Minor White Curator of Photography.
- Portland Art Museum exhibition brochure
- Art Gallery of Ontario digital resource
- Guidelines for Teaching the Holocaust (PDF)
- Tips for Answering Questions (PDF)
- Holocaust Chronology (PDF)
- Four Corners Lesson (PDF)
- Creating a Found Poem (PDF)
- Barometer Activity (PDF)
- Ghettos connecting conversation (PDF)
- Miriam Greenstein (PDF)
- Complicating the Narrative (PDF)
- Places of Remembrance (PDF)
- Arlene Schnitzer & Jordan Schnitzer in memory of Harold Schnitzer
- Miriam Greenstein*
- Lisa Kaner and Peter Glade in memory of Miriam Greenstein
- Wendy and Howard Liebreich in memory of Miriam Greenstein
- Jim and Susan Winkler
- Linda and Scott Andrews
- Suzanne Geary and Greg Doan
- Alix and Tom Goodman
- The Holzman Foundation, Inc.
- The Langfus Family in memory of Aaron and Regina Langfus survivors of the Lodz Ghetto
- Metro Metals NW
- Arnold and Augusta Newman Foundation
- The Podemski Family, in memory of Max and Anna Podemski, survivors of the Lodz Ghetto
- Ruth C. Roth
- Grace Serbu
- Mort Zalutsky
- Zidell Family Foundation
Missy and Peter Bechen, Daniel Bergsvik and Donald Hastler, Lisa Domenico Brooke, Elaine Coughlin and Jonathon Lietz, Anne and James F. Crumpacker, Elizabeth and Kirk Day, Ann Flowerree, Dr. Maribeth Graybill, Judy and Hank Hummelt, Ruth Greenstein, Audrey Dobson and Helena Fagen, in honor of our mother, Miriam Greenstein, Anne and Peter Jarvis in honor of Anna and Max Podemski, Dr. Douglas and Selby Key, Cyndy and Edward Maletis, David and Dolorosa Margulis, Travers and Vasek Polak, Dee Poth, Steve Reinisch in memory of Diana Golden, Miriam Greenstein, and Regina Atlas and in honor of Les and Eva Aigner and Evie Banko, Pat and Trudy Ritz, Madelle and Stanley Rosenfeld, Kate Sena, Andrée Stevens, Robert Trotman and William Hetzelson, Bob and Liz Warren, Mr. and Mrs. David Willmott
*Miriam Greenstein survived three years in the Lodz ghetto, as well as the atrocities of Bergen-Belsen, and a slave labor camp in Germany. After liberation, 16-year-old Miriam came to Portland to live with relatives. A graduate of Grant High School, Miriam lived quietly as a housewife and mother until the 1988 hate crime murder of Ethiopian man Mulugeta Seraw inspired her to begin speaking about the consequences of hatred and intolerance. She dedicated the next 30 years of her life to Holocaust education and offered her support of this exhibition before passing away in April 2018.