In 1987 someone rummaging in a second hand bookstore in Vienna came across a set of about 400 color slides. Upon examination, they turned out to be images of the Lodz ghetto, taken by Walter Genewein, the Nazis’ chief accountant. After Genewein died, his companion sold the pictures to the bookstore in Vienna. From there, they made their way into the collection of the Jewish Museum in Frankfurt, and also into Jablonski’s movie “Photographer.” Genewein must have had his reasons for selecting one view over another and for carefully numbering the images, as if to create a sequence.
The above is a quote from the Yad VaShem website, where I went looking for a-typical images of the Holocaust.
My dad spent the first few years of the war as a slave laborer in a Nazi sweatshop in the Lodz ghetto. He didn’t make fancy dresses, but uniforms for the German army.
Lodz was the Manchester of Poland, a gigantic textile center. My dad was working day and night while his family was being removed, according to well maintained lists, and taken east by train. In the end it was just him and his older sister, Bracha, and then, one afternoon, she was gone, too. And a short while later, he was placed on the train to Auschwitz.
With my dad’s passing, in 2004, I lost my last connection to that world, that reality. On occasion I search the Internet for bits of memorabilia like this. I feel like a ghost, entering uninvited into places that are no longer mine.
I honestly didn’t think Yom HaShoah would have this effect on me. What a terrible day it is.