GOOD
He photographed Nazi atrocities and buried the negatives. The unearthed images are unforgettable.
via Yad Vashem and Archive of Modern Conflict, 2007

In September 1939, the Nazis invaded Poland. By April 1940, the gates closed on the Lodz Ghetto, the second largest in the country after Warsaw.

Throughout the war, over 210,000 people would be imprisoned in Lodz.

Among those held captive was Henryk Ross. He was a Jewish sports photographer before the Nazi invasion and worked for the the ghetto's Department of Statistics during the war. As part of his official job, he took identification photos of the prisoners and propaganda shots of Lodz' textile and leather factories.


via Bild Bundesarchiv / Wikimedia Commons

However, when the Nazis weren't looking, Ross stole film stock and surreptitiously took photos of the atrocities to "leave a historical record of our martyrdom."

Ross knew that if he was ever caught, he and his family would be tortured and killed.

Ross took photos of hangings, people lying in the street dying of starvation, and countless dead bodies in the morgue. He also managed to capture the day-to-day lives of the prisoners as they attempted to survive in squalor.

By the summer of 1944, over 45,000 people had died of starvation, disease, and murder in the ghetto, the vast majority of which were Jews, but some were Roma and Sinti. Tens of thousands were shipped off to concentration camps and murdered in gas vans at Chelmno.

Ross sensed that the end of the war may be near, so he buried over 6,000 negatives in the cold, hard Polish earth to leave a visual testimony of the Nazi atrocities.

On Jan. 19, 1945 the Soviet Army liberated the ghetto. Ross was among the 877 people who survived.

Two months later, Ross dug up his negatives. Most had been ruined by moisture but there were still hundreds that survived as evidence of the Nazi genocide.

Courtesy of Israel Government Press Office

In 1956, Ross and his wife immigrated to Israel. In 1961, he testified in the war crimes trial of the architect of Adolph Hitler's Final Solution, Adolf Eichmann. Some of Ross' photos were used as evidence.

Ross passed away in 1991 and his photographs were acquired by the Archive of Modern Conflict.

Here are just a few of Ross' chilling photographs taken at the Lodz Ghetto from 1941 to 1944.

Life in the Ghetto

The ruins of a synagogue on Wolborska Street demolished by Germans in 1939.

Gift from Archive of Modern Conflict, 2007

Execution by hanging in the ghetto.

Gift from Archive of Modern Conflict, 2007

Sorting through belongings left after deportation.

Gift from Archive of Modern Conflict, 2007

Men hauling the cart for bread distribution.

Gift from Archive of Modern Conflict, 2007

Children digging for potatoes

"The potatoes in the ghetto were always rotten, frozen - garbage. But perhaps it was still possible to find something edible in the trash? Hundreds, especially children, would come to burrow in the buried pile in the ground in the hours when the watch was not strict." — Henryk Ross

Gift from Archive of Modern Conflict, 2007

Children sitting on the floor.

Gift from Archive of Modern Conflict, 2007

Cleaners in the ghetto.

Gift from Archive of Modern Conflict, 2007

Cook ladling soup into pails for captives.

Gift from Archive of Modern Conflict, 2007

Round-ups and Deportations to Killing Centers

Jews from the Lodz Ghetto were deported from Lodz via vans and cattle cars to death camps in Chelmno nad Nerem and Auschwitz-Birkenau.

"Evacuation of the sick" (and aged, by horse-drawn cart).

Gift from Archive of Modern Conflict, 2007

Boy walking to deportation in a group, wearing cap, satchel and backpack.

Gift from Archive of Modern Conflict, 2007

Mass deportation.

Gift from Archive of Modern Conflict, 2007

Deportation from the hospital

Jewish policemen are catching deportees trying to escape from the hospital at 36 Lagiewnicka Street, which was an assembly point for deportees. The photograph was taken on September 10, 1942." — Henryk Ross

Gift from Archive of Modern Conflict, 2007

Death in the Ghetto

A young ghetto victim in the morgue.

Gift from Archive of Modern Conflict, 2007

A young ghetto victim in the morgue.

Gift from Archive of Modern Conflict, 2007

Corpses and body parts in the morgue.

Gift from Archive of Modern Conflict, 2007

Bodies for burial, one tagged "55."

For more information, please visit The Lodz Ghetto Photographs of Henryk Ross.

Trending Stories