Ross’ work for the Jewish Council of Lodz included taking photographs for a range of mundane functions. In this image, he can be seen photographing nearly a dozen people for their identification cards. And although Ross did not receive direct orders from the Germans, some of his photos may have ended up being used in Nazi propaganda.
In any case, it was his unofficial snaps that comprised his most important body of photographic work. Demonstrating incredible nerve, Ross secretly documented day-to-day life in the Lodz ghetto. Another Jewish photographer, Mendel Grossman, who was also employed by the council, took clandestine photos too. Sadly, however, he did not make it through the war alive.
“Henryk Ross’s images challenge viewers to reflect on the role of photographs and photographers in documenting the Holocaust and shaping public memory,” states an essay by Doris Bergen and Sylwia Szymanska-Smolkin on the Art Gallery of Ontario’s website. “They also remind us of the importance of thinking about the sources and uses of Holocaust images… Every picture was taken by someone for a reason…”