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'Face of the Ghetto' Exhibition, Part of Local Holocaust Remembrance, Opens May 16 at Perry Library

An exhibition of photographs in remembrance of the horrific ghettos created by the Nazis for interned Jewish prisoners will have its official opening at Old Dominion University's Perry Library on Wednesday, May 16.

"The Face of the Ghetto" exhibition, part of the Holocaust remembrance activities in and around Hampton Roads, is a collaboration of the Institute for Jewish Studies and Interfaith Understanding in ODU's College of Arts and Letters, the Federal Republic of Germany and the Old Dominion University Libraries.

The exhibit, of 50 prints taken in one of the largest ghettos established by the Nazis in occupied Poland, along with quotations from survivor reports of Jews who were in the ghetto, is composed and provided by the Topography of Terror Foundation in Berlin, Germany, and is supported by the Foreign Office, Federal Republic of Germany.

The opening runs from 6-8 p.m. May 16 in the Perry Library Learning Commons, and is free and open to the public. The exhibition continues through June 28. For more information about the event, call Donna Hughes-Oldenburg at the ODU Libraries, 683-4153.

During World War II, the German Nazis established the second largest ghetto for Jews in the occupied Polish city of £ódŸ, renamed Litzmannstadt by the German occupants. In April 1940, more than 160,000 Jews from the Warthegau region were crowded into the Litzmannstadt Ghetto which consisted of an area of 4.14 square kilometers. Later on, 20,000 Jews from the German Reich, Prague and Luxembourg were deported to Litzmannstadt.

As a result of the abominable conditions, more than 43,000 people died in the Litzmannstadt Ghetto. In 1942, tens of thousands of Jews with thousands of children among them were deported and killed in the Kulmhof extermination camp. The ghetto was dissolved in August 1944, and all save a handful of remaining inhabitants were killed in the Auschwitz extermination camp.

Professional Jewish photographers were instructed by the Jewish council of the Litzmannstadt Ghetto to photograph the daily life and work. They took pictures of children playing, working and eating and produced touching portraits as well. The pictures were intended to show a functioning community and testify to the utility of Jewish workers for the German economy. A collection of 12,000 contact prints by these Jewish photographers in the Litzmannstadt Ghetto is preserved in the £ódŸ State Archive. For this exhibition, 50 prints were selected and enlarged. Quotations from survivor reports and from the chronicle of the ghetto accompany each photograph. The choice of these examples shows one way to treat photographs as historical sources - to examine what they conceal and to approach them with a critical eye.

A Web exhibit is available at http://www.lib.odu.edu/exhibits/faceghetto/index.htm.

This article was posted on: May 9, 2012

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