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‎21 Adar I 5784 | ‎01/03/2024

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Photographer: Documenting the Lodz Ghetto, with Dariusz Jablonski

Photographer: Documenting the Lodz Ghetto, with Dariusz Jablonski

ENGLISH CORNER, CON LINDA JIMÉNEZ – This week’s trivia question:  Who was Chaim Rumkowski?

In 1987, several hundred color slides documenting scenes from the Lodz Ghetto during World War II were discovered in a second-hand bookstore in Vienna, Austria. These slides were the work of Walter Genewein, an Austrian citizen serving the Nazis. He was an accountant in the ghetto’s council, and solicited turning the ghetto into a prosperous and well-organized company. He was not just an ambitious office worker, but also an enthusiastic photographer and he recorded life in the ghetto with a camera.

Dariusz Jablonski is a Polish film director and producer, president of his own production company, Apple Film Productions, and one of the leading independent producers in Poland. In 1990 he founded Apple Film Productions, which has produced more than 21 documentaries, 15 feature films and numerous films for television. Jablonski is a founder of the Polish Film Awards and the Polish Film Academy, as well as of the Independent Film Foundation, created to promote independent films and their writers. He is also a member of the European Film Academy. In 2012 he was elected president of the Polish Film Academy.

In the early 90s Jablonski came upon the slides of the Lodz ghetto that Genewein had photographed, and used them as a basis for his documentary film Photographer. The award-winning film, which was released in 1998, shows the real history of the Lodz Ghetto and the suffering and eventual extermination of the Polish Jews living there. The photographs are combined and compared with the recollections of Dr. Arnold Mostowicz, who worked as a doctor in the ghetto, and was the last surviving witness of the events.

Photographer was shown recently at Centro Sefarad-Israel, and Jablonski spoke with us about it.  You can see excerpts of the film with subtitles in English here and here.