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Learn about Lodz

About the collection

Henryk Ross's images, taken from 1940 to 1945, provide an extraordinary glimpse into Jewish life in the Lodz Ghetto during a harrowing period in history. Jews imprisoned by the German Nazi regime lived - and often died - under deplorable conditions. Ross served as an official photographer for the ghetto Jewish administration, but he also risked his life to take illegal photographs that document the grim realities of Lodz Ghetto residents.

Before the ghetto was shut down, Ross buried his negatives with other artifacts, hoping that his collection might one day become part of the public history of World War II. Fortunately, he was able to recover the buried material when the Lodz Ghetto was liberated in 1945. His incomparable collection was given to the AGO by the Archive of Modern Conflict in 2007 and shown at the AGO for the first time in the exhibition Memory Unearthed, which ran from January 31 to- June 14, 2015.

Preserving the Negatives

Toward the end of World War II, Ross placed his negatives and prints in jars, which he buried in an iron-rimmed box in the ghetto. When he dug up the collection in March 1945, Ross discovered that many of the negatives had been severely damaged by groundwater. The swirls and trails you see in some of these images show where the gelatin layer of the film has dissolved.

Ross used 35mm cellulose nitrate film, a potentially dangerous medium due to its flammability. To ensure the safety of Ross's collection and to preserve his work for future generations, the AGO digitized the 3,000 surviving negatives. You will see all of these images on this site.