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Photographer Zvi-Hirsh Kadushin (George Kadish, left) poses with deputy police chief Yehuda Zupovitz (right) in the Kovno ghetto.

Photograph | Digitized | Photograph Number: 10798

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    Photographer Zvi-Hirsh Kadushin (George Kadish, left) poses with deputy police chief Yehuda Zupovitz (right) in the Kovno ghetto.
    Photographer Zvi-Hirsh Kadushin (George Kadish, left) poses with deputy police chief Yehuda Zupovitz (right) in the Kovno ghetto.


    Photographer Zvi-Hirsh Kadushin (George Kadish, left) poses with deputy police chief Yehuda Zupovitz (right) in the Kovno ghetto.
    George Kadish/Zvi Kadushin
    Kaunas, Lithuania
    Variant Locale
    Photo Credit
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, courtesy of George Kadish/Zvi Kadushin
    Event History
    The Kovno ghetto Jewish police force was created on order of the German occupation authorities in July 1941, even before the ghetto was sealed. The policemen, who were initially recruited from the ranks of Jewish veterans and sportsmen, were issued separate armbands to set them apart from the rest of the ghetto population. Their primary function was to maintain order and discipline in the ghetto and to enforce the orders of the Jewish Council. The police worked closely with every Council office, particularly the labor department. With time, the police assumed additional responsibilities. Following the outlawing of a separate ghetto judiciary in August 1942, the police assumed responsibility for the ghetto's courts, which handled both civil and criminal disputes. It also became the role of the ghetto police to produce fellow Jews for forced labor brigades, maintain the two ghetto jails, and enforce German orders, including the round-up of Jews for deportation. Some ghetto residents held the police responsible for the policies it had to enforce and accused it of cooperating with the Germans. Yet, most of the police maintained high moral standards and gradually gained the respect of the population. On November 11, 1942, every member of the police force signed an oath pledging to act for the welfare of the Jewish community. In fact, several members of the police, including its commander Moshe Levin and his deputies Yehuda Zupovitz and Ika Grinberg, were active in the underground resistance movement. The Kovno ghetto Jewish police force was brought to an abrupt end during the infamous police action of March 27, 1944. German SS officers, seeking information about the ghetto's underground and hiding places, ordered the 140 members of the Jewish police to assemble. They were immediately arrested and taken to the Ninth Fort, where 36 of them, including Levin, Zupovitz and Grinberg, were executed. Others were tortured and then released. A few policemen, including Tanchum Arnshtam, revealed information about ghetto hideouts, and they became the nucleus of a new police force that worked directly with the Germans.

    See "Kauen" in Encyclopedia of Camps and Ghettos, Volume 1 Part A
    See Also

    Rights & Restrictions

    Photo Source
    USHMM (Restricted)
    Copyright: Exclusively with provenance
    Provenance: George Kadish/Zvi Kadushin
    Source Record ID: Collections: CR 1503.006

    Keywords & Subjects

    Administrative Notes

    George Kadish (Hirsh Kadushin) taught science at a Hebrew high school in Kovno before the war. The first violent attacks against Kovno's Jews in June and July, 1941 moved Kadish, an avid amateur photographer, to document the community's ordeals. He secretly photographed over 1,000 images of ghetto life, sometimes even snapping pictures with a hidden camera through the buttonhole of his overcoat. In the x-ray department of the hospital where he was assigned to work, he bartered for film and developed his negatives. He then smuggled them out in a set of crutches. In late March, 1944 Kadish learned that the Gestapo, hearing of his photographic endeavor, was searching for him. Kadish fled the ghetto and went into hiding. He photographed the burning of the ghetto from the Aryan side. Following the liberation, he returned to the ghetto area. He photographed its remains, and dug up his prints and negatives that he had buried in milk cans beneath his house. Kadish moved to the United States and lived there until his death in August, 1997.

    Yehuda Zupovitz, the youngest of four children, was born in July 1916 in the town of Jonava, Lithuania. He moved to Kovno in the 1930s in order to study engineering. During this period Yehuda became active in the Betar revisionist Zionist youth movement and the Zionist student organization "El-Al" (where he met the photographer Zvi Kadushin). After graduating, Yehuda worked as an engineer in Kovno, where he also served as an officer in the Lithuanian Army reserves. In 1938 he met Yehudit (Dita) Katz, whom he married in February 1941. After the formation of the Kovno ghetto in the summer of 1941, Yehuda and his two older brothers, Moshe and Meir, volunteered for the Jewish ghetto police. Subsequently, Yehuda was made deputy chief. In this capacity he organized the formal ceremony in which the members of the ghetto police signed a special oath pledging to act on behalf of the Jewish community. Yehuda used his position on the police force to help the ghetto underground, in which he also assumed a leadership role. Among his resistance activities was training the members of the underground in the use of firearms. In addition, Yehuda encouraged his friend Zvi Kadushin to document the ghetto in photographs so as to create a permanent visual record for posterity. Yehuda helped to hide this collection of prints and negatives, much of which survived the war. During the Police Action of March 27, 1944 Yehuda was taken to Fort IX, where he was interrogated about the activities and hideouts of the ghetto underground, including the whereabouts of the Kadushin photographic collection. Despite the beatings and other forms of torture to which he was subjected, Yehuda refused to disclose any information. Soon after, he and his brother Meir were executed along with 34 other policemen.
    Record last modified:
    2004-11-09 00:00:00
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