A man and a boy carry their luggage on the way to the deportation train in the Lodz ghetto.
Photograph | Photograph Number: 05547A
- Mendel Grosman
1942? - 1944
- Lodz, [Lodz] Poland
- Variant Locale
- Photo Designation
GHETTOS (MAJOR) -- LODZ (Poland) -- Deportations -- En route to Assembly Points/Train Stations
- Photo Credit
- United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, courtesy of Moshe Zilbar
A man and a boy carry their luggage on the way to the deportation train in the Lodz ghetto.
- Event History
- The arrival and deportation of transports into and out of the Lodz ghetto are difficult to distinguish from one another. The routes taken by displaced Jews into and out of the ghetto were identical. They both arrived and departed by train at the Radogoszcz railroad station in Marysin, and proceeded on foot in columns to, or from, the ghetto. Moreover, many Jews being resettled into the ghetto brought with them small bundles and satchels similar to those carried by Jews being deported. Therefore, Lodz ghetto photographs depicting columns of Jews carrying bundles and walking down a street should not be presumed to be deportation images. More evidence is needed.
Following the public announcement of the establishment of the Lodz ghetto on February 8, 1940, Jews were expelled from all other parts of the city and moved into the ghetto area. 164,000 Jews were imprisoned in the ghetto when the Germans sealed it off on April 30, 1940. In 1941 and 1942 an additional 38,500 Jews and 5,000 Roma/Sinti were resettled in the ghetto. The Roma/Sinti and some 20,000 Jews came from central Europe between October 16 and November 4, 1941. The other 18,500 Jews were sent from provincial towns in the Warthegau region.
The first deportations from the Lodz ghetto were to labor camps in the Poznan area. These commenced in December 1940 and continued until June 1942. Deportation to death camps began in December 1941, with the transport of Gypsies to Chelmno. This was followed by a steady flow of Jewish transports from January through May 1942, in which 55,000 were taken to Chelmno. After a four-month hiatus, deportations resumed on September 1 with the evacuation of the ghetto hospital. This was followed by the eight day Sperre (or Gehsperre) action (September 5-12) of the ill, the elderly, and children under ten years of age. 572 Jews were murdered and 15,000 deported to Chelmno, during this action. There were no further deportations to death camps from Lodz for the next one and a half years. In the spring of 1944, the Nazis reactivated the dormant killing center in Chelmno in preparation for the ghetto's liquidation. From June 23 to July 15, 1944, 7,000 Jews were deported there. Thereafter, all deportation trains were routed to Auschwitz. The transports to Auschwitz commenced on August 7 and continued until August 30, by which time more than 74,000 Jews had been dispatched to this killing center. After this final transport, 1,200 Jews remained in two assembly camps in Lodz. Roughly half of them were soon transferred to labor camps in Germany. The remainder was put into the Jakuba Street camp in Lodz, where they collected the abandoned property and prepared it for shipment to the Reich. These 600-800 Jewish prisoners evaded a planned mass execution by taking refuge in the abandoned ghetto. They were finally liberated by the Soviets on January 19, 1945.
- Mendel Grosman (1913-1945), Lodz ghetto photographer, was the son of Shmuel Dawid Grosman (b. June 15, 1882) and Chana Ruchla (b. February 13, 1887). Mendel was born on June 27, 1913. His oldest sister Rut immigrated to the United States in 1919. He had one brother Jakub who died of an appendicitis, and two other sisters. Feiga Grosman Frajtag was born 1910. She was married to Szymon Frajtag (b. 1904) amd had a son, Jakub (Jankush) born in 1938. His younger sister Roszka (Rojza Miriam ) was born on January 20, 1918.
Though raised in a Hasidic home, Grosman took an early interest in painting and studied with the artist Szylis, before devoting himself to photography. During the 1930s Grosman photographed the Habimah theater during its tour in Lodz. He was also commissioned by a Jewish children's health organization to photograph a series of images for an album on the Jewish child in Poland, but the album was never published. During World War II, Grosman was forced to move into the ghetto, where he lived with six other members of his extended family. At the end of 1941 the Lodz ghetto Jewish council created an official photography section made up of eleven photographers, including Grosman and Henryk Ross, whose job it was to take photographs for identity cards, photograph official ceremonies, ghetto products and exhibitions, and ghetto buildings that were about to be demolished. In addition to these official photographs, Grosman took thousands of illegal photos documenting Jewish life and death in the ghetto, including the Jewish youth movements in Marysin, street scenes shot from his apartment window, the fecalists at hard labor, hangings, deportations and bodies piled in the morgue at the Jewish cemetery. He also took many pictures of his extended family, especially his young nephew Yankele (Yankush) Freitag, who for Grosman symbolized the ghetto child.
Most of Grosman's immediate family died in the ghetto. His father died on March 7, 1942, his mother died on July 16, 1942 and his brother-in-law Szymon Frajtag died the same year. His nephew Yankel died of hunger in 1943. Right before the final liquidation of the ghetto in August 1944, Grosman asked his friend Arie ben Menahem to help him hide his collection of 10,000 negatives. They placed a portion of the collection in a wooden box and hid it inside a hollowed out section of wall beneath a window pane in his apartment. Another portion of the collection, including some prints and a camera, were hidden with the help of another friend, Nachman Zonabend, in a cellar.
Deported during the liquidation of the ghetto, Grosman ended up in the Konigswusterhausen concentration camp in Germany. When this camp was evacuated on April 26, 1945, Grosman was sent on a death march, during which he was shot to death by an SS guard after tripping along the way. His sister Fajda was deported to Auschwitz where she perished.
After the war much of Grosman's photographic collection was retrieved by Zonabend and Grosman's sister, Ruszka. Roszka (now Zilbar) sent the wooden box of negatives to Kibbutz Nitzanim in Palestine, where Arie ben Menahem was then living. These negatives were later lost when the kibbutz was overrun by the Egyptians during the Israeli War of Independence and its residents taken captive. In Egypt, Ben-Menahem saw a picture in a local paper with the caption "bread line in Tel-Aviv," which was actually one of Grosman's Lodz ghetto photographs. To him, this was proof that the negatives still existed, but all efforts to locate them have been in vain.
[Source: "Mendel Grosman" video produced by Aliza Tzigler, Videofilm International 1988]
Moshe Zilbar (born Mojzesz Boruch Zylbersztajn) is the firstborn son of Abram Zylbersztajn (b. June 6, 1894) and Estera Ita Lasocka Zylbersztajn (b. March 8, 1904). Moshe was born as on December 5, 1923 in Lodz, Poland. His family lived at 15 Limanowskiego Street; apt. 2. Abram Zylbersztajn owned a house shoes store, which was in the front and the family lived in the back of the store. Moshe had three younger sisters: Franka Frajdla (today Fania Silberstein) was born in 1924; Gucia Gitl born on September 10, 1926, and Malka, was born on November 18, 1927. Moshe attended Polish elementary school and later a vocational school, where he learned to become an electrician. Early on Moshe became active in the Zionist youth movement, Hanoar Hazioni, and in the summer of 1939 he participated in a special camp for youth group leaders in the Troki area (Trakai) near Vilna.
Germany invaded Poland on September 1, 1939 and arrived in Lodz on September 8. During March 1940 the Germans ordered the Lodz Jews to move into the Baluty district where the ghetto was to be established without the use any vehicular transportation. Moshe helped his relatives to move their furniture and other possessions into the crowded ghetto. On May 1, 1940 the Lodz ghetto was hermetically closed. Moshe was very involved in the youth organization and moved with some of the members to the so-called "Farm" in the Marysin section of the ghetto. The young people, with the blessing of the chairman of the Jewish Council, Mordechai Chaim Rumkowski, started to grow vegetables in small gardens in Marysin. It was there that Moshe met Rozka Grosman (the daughter of Lodz ghetto photographer Mendel Grosman) who later became his wife.
Moshe worked in the sewing workshop at 36 Lagiewnicka Street, but after work he devoted all his time to work with the youth of the ghetto. He organized them, together with Heniek Bergman, and made sure that the young people would be engaged in activity helping them to forget the hunger and misery of the ghetto life. Moshe's father, Abram Zylbersztajn worked in a shoemaking workshop and his mother in straw workshop. During the Gehsperre Aktion in September 1942 the Zylbersztajn family felt relatively safe, as all of them were employed, but on the last day of the Aktion the Germans caught Moshe's mother, Estera Ita Zylbersztajn, and deported her to the Chelmno death camp. She was just 38 years old. Malka, the youngest sister, died in the ghetto in 1943, possibly of leukemia.
On August 28, 1944 Moshe, his father and his two sisters were deported to the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp. Upon arrival in Birkenau, Moshe and his father were separated from Franka and Gitl. After three weeks in Birkenau there was a call for metal workers, and Moshe and his father immediately volunteered for this work, even though they never did this kind of work before. On September 5, 1944 they were taken to the Biesnitz camp (Görlitz). The 1,500 Jewish prisoners were forced to build armored vehicles using heavy iron metals, without any protection. On February 18, 1945 the Germans started to evacuate the camp and the prisoners as the Red Army advanced. Moshe was very sick when the evacuation started and he was placed in the infirmary barrack. His father, Abraham, refused to leave without his son, and stayed in the barrack with Moshe. Other prisoners tried to avoid the "death march" and hid in another barrack. German guards entered that barrack and machine gunned all the prisoners. Moshe and his father observed it, but they were left alone. They were liberated only on May 6, 1945. On September 13, 1944, Franka and Gitl Zylbersztajn were transferred from Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp to the Stutthof concentration camp. Franka survived the death march but her younger sister Gitl did not.
In May 1945 Moshe and his father returned to their hometown Lodz. They traveled a week by train and arrived at the Kaliski train station. Moshe immediately started to be active again in the Zionist youth movement and also reunited with Rozka Grosman. Together, they recovered the negatives and photographs hidden by Mendel Grosman in the window frame of their ghetto apartment at Marynarska Street. Moshe helped accompany groups of Jewish survivors to Czechoslovakia as part of the "Bricha" movement. In the summer 1946, He and Rozka, carrying a suitcase in which they kept all of Mendel's negatives, left Poland and moved to the Leipheim DP camp in Germany. In 1947 Moshe and Rozka tried to reach Palestine, but the British fleet diverted their ship to Cyprus. In January 1948 they finally reached Palestine and settled in Haifa. Moshe was mobilized into the Israeli Navy. Rozka (now Shoshana) gave birth to their firstborn son, Shmuel in August 1948. He was named in memory of Rozka's father. Their daughter Hana, named after Rozka's mother was born in September 1953.
Moshe and Rozka Hebraized their last name to Zilbar. Moshe continued to work in the Israel Defense Force as a civilian until his retirement in 1987. Rozka and Moshe Zilbar became essential to the Lodz survivor community in Israel and those who lived elsewhere. They devoted their energy to honor and memorialize the work of Mendel Grosman and played central role in organizing exhibitions of his work in the Ghetto Fighters House Museum. Moshe Zilbar lives in Haifa, close to his children, his six grandchildren and two great grandchildren.
- Photo Source
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
Copyright: United States Holocaust Memorial MuseumProvenance: Moshe ZilbarSource Record ID: Collections: 2005.214
Record last modified: 2012-08-28 00:00:00
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