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:: By Phoebe Maltz

:: Photo Credit: © Henryk Ross/Archive
of Modern Conflict

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Investigations ::

Original Source

Ghetto elite unveiled

While a doctoral student at Oxford, Thomas Weber encountered the Henryk Ross Collection—a “huge, bulky suitcase”—at London’s Archive of Modern Conflict. The suitcase held 6,000 items, including negatives and stamps that official Lodz ghetto photographer and Holocaust survivor Ross had buried in 1944 and then uncovered after liberation. Ross released the images depicting the horrors of ghetto life, but chose to neither publish nor destroy those revealing the “private lives of the ghetto elite,” says Weber, a visiting assistant professor of history. In 1987 Ross catalogued all the materials from the suitcase and left them to his son, who sold them to the London archive in 1997.

photo:  original source

Thanks to Weber, many of the photos are now available to the public. Coauthor of the Lodz Ghetto Album (Chris Boot, 2004), he argues that the full collection, with its images of both suffering and joy—couples embracing, children playing—reveals “there was actually very little difference” between the favored few and the other ghetto residents. Though the Nazi-selected elite had some material advantages, they faced “competing bonds of loyalty,” forced to choose between saving their own families and defending the community at large.