US/World News

Prisoner’s photos depicting life in Lodz Ghetto donated to Boston museum

(JTA) – Henryk Ross risked his life to take surreptitious photographs of the brutal life in Poland’s Lodz Ghetto. Now a cache of nearly 50 of those photos taken by the Jewish prisoner has been donated to the Museum of Fine Arts Boston by a collector, Howard Greenberg. They are the first Ross photographs in the museum’s collection and among the few owned by a U.S. museum. The ghetto Jewish Council’s Department of Statistics had pressed Ross into service to shoot identification photos, as well as images of the factories there used as propaganda. Ross, however, took hundreds of other photos, often with the help of his wife, Stefania, that documented the horrid conditions. The Lodz Ghetto, which existed for more than four years, was the second largest set up by the Nazis. Thousands died of starvation and illness. Tens of thousands of its prisoners were deported to death camps.

After liberation, Ross unearthed the canisters of his photos that he had buried before the camp was liquidated in 1944. He gave a selection of 48 prints made before 1945 to Lova Szmszkowic, later Leon Sutton, a fellow ghetto prisoner who survived the Holocaust, according to a release by the Boston museum. Ross, who resettled in Israel, died in 1991.

Sutton brought the photos with him to New York City when he immigrated and stored them safely in an envelope for more than 60 years. Following his death in 2007, his son Paul discovered the envelope. He realized the significance of his father’s collection after seeing a landmark 2017 exhibit of Ross’s photographs at the museum.

Greenberg purchased the photos from the younger Sutton. “As the first-generation Jewish American son of two Polish Holocaust survivors I do strongly feel that we must never forget,” Paul Sutton said in the museum statement.

Main Photo: On left, an untitled photo of the Lodz Ghetto by Henryk Ross, 1910-1991. On right, one by Ross of a Jewish doctor imprisoned in the Lodz Ghetto. (Courtesy of Museum of Fine Arts Boston)

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