In the winter of 1944, at the height of the Holocaust, Jewish photographer Henryk Ross buried a box of photographs in the ground. Just over a year later, he returned to unearth the photos, and the tragic story they told still resonates to this day.
Henryk Ross of Łódź, Poland was a simple news and sports photographer when German forces invaded his city in 1939. From then on, he survived by taking identity photos and propaganda shots for the Nazi Department of Statistics. While on the job, however, he risked his life to secretly document day-to-day events in the Łódź ghetto, which eventually included the deportation of its residents to death camps. Being at risk of a similar fate himself, he buried his photos near his house in a tar-sealed box, preserving evidence of the crimes against his people for future generations.
After the liberation of Łódź by the Soviet Army in 1945, Ross came back to dig up his photos, many of which were damaged or destroyed by ground water. The ones that remained intact, though, provided an intimate look inside the lives of Polish Jews, many of whom met the most unspeakable of ends. They now call the Art Gallery of Ontario home, and live on as a memorial to the victims of the world’s largest genocide.