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On the way to the deportation train in the Lodz ghetto.

Photograph | Digitized | Photograph Number: 05547

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    On the way to the deportation train in the Lodz ghetto.
    On the way to the deportation train in the Lodz ghetto.


    On the way to the deportation train in the Lodz ghetto.
    Mendel Grosman
    1942? - 1944
    Lodz, [Lodz] Poland
    Variant Locale
    Photo Credit
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, courtesy of Leopold Page Photographic Collection
    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 Roma 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.

    Rights & Restrictions

    Photo Source
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
    Copyright: United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
    Provenance: Leopold Page Photographic Collection
    Published Source
    With a Camera in the Ghetto - Grossman, Mendel - Ghetto Fighters' House and Hakibbutz Hameuchad Publishing House - p. 33

    Keywords & Subjects

    Administrative Notes

    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]
    Record last modified:
    2007-02-02 00:00:00
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