The Art Gallery of Ontario has just launched a searchable, interactive digital archive of over 4,000 rare photographs from its Henryk Ross Collection of Lodz Ghetto Photographs. The archive, developed in partnership with Facing History and Ourselves and with contributions from Sarah and Chaim Neuberger Holocaust Education Centre, features digital copies of Henryk Ross’s original nitrate-based negatives, captured during the Second World War in the Lodz Ghetto of Poland. The launch of the website coincides with the 70th anniversary of the unearthing of Ross’s original negatives in .
Henryk Ross (–) was a Polish-Jewish photojournalist employed by the Jewish Administration’s Statistics Department. At great risk to himself, Ross took thousands of photos of daily life in Poland’s Lodz Ghetto, which was occupied by German forces in and was the country’s second largest ghetto for the Jewish population after Warsaw. Ross hid his negatives by burying them in the ground after the last remaining residents of the ghetto were sent to Auschwitz, and excavated them only after the area was liberated from Nazi occupation in . Over half of the original 6,000 negatives survived, making his collection one of the largest of its kind to survive the Holocaust.
The Henryk Ross Collection was donated to the Art Gallery of Ontario by the Archive of Modern Conflict in . The launch of the digital archive will allow people around the world to search and save images, tag photographs and add information in order to continue to build Ross’s legacy and enrich the public memory of the people and historical events he wished to commemorate. The website also features lesson plans and resources for teachers and students to learn about history, modern human rights issues and social change.
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