The Lodz Ghetto Link: Revelations From Beyond the Small Talk
There are as many stories as there are people.
Although most of us are no longer working in the i24 offices, Jeff still works there every day.
We were office neighbours and loved teasing each other. His side of the hallway was jokingly referred to as the “Jewish Ghetto”, and mine, the “Gay Ghetto”.
However, one day while stopping by his office, he told me that his mother was interviewed by CBS Morning about her family’s experience during the war while being confined to the Lodz Ghetto in Poland. The joke took a dark turn.
I learned a lot about the Lodz Ghetto from Jeff’s story. It’s one thing to read or hear about the Holocaust via books and documentaries, but very much more visceral when hearing it through the words of someone who was intimately touched by it.
Jeff told me that Chip Reid, the nationalcorrespondent for CBS News, interviewed his mother, Krysia Rosenstein.
They did a feature on her discovery of family photos from the Lodz Ghetto in Poland for CBS Sunday Morning.
“Having an official camera, I was able to capture all the tragic period in the Lodz Ghetto. I did it knowing that if I were caught my family and I would be tortured and killed.” – Henryk Ross
When they entered the last room, Krysia was shocked to see the image of herself with her father and mother. She had seen photos of her family in the ghetto before, but this was the first time she saw the three together.
When the curator of the exhibit found this out, she made sure that Krysia received a copy of the photo as well as Henryk Ross’ book.
Krysia’s Lodz Ghetto Story
Jeff’s mother, Krysia, was one of only four children who survived the Lodz Ghetto in Poland.
In her words, the early days of the ghetto were hard but bearable.
She knew nothing else and the residents tried to keep things as normal as possible.
This photo (below) seems surreal when you consider where and when it was taken.
He accrued a lot of power as he transformed the ghetto into a manufacturing centre of war supplies.
He had the mistaken belief that productivity was the key to Jewish survival beyond the Holocaust.
On September 4, 1942, on German orders, Rumkowski assembled the Jews in the ghetto.
He told the assembled they must give up their children (10 years and younger) as well as the elderly over 65.
He delivered the speech that has since been referred to as the infamous “Give Me Your Children”. (excerpt)
A grievous blow has struck the ghetto. They [the Germans] are asking us to give up the best we possess – the children and the elderly.
I was unworthy of having a child of my own, so I gave the best years of my life to children. I’ve lived and breathed with children, I never imagined I would be forced to deliver this sacrifice to the altar with my own hands.
In my old age, I must stretch out my hands and beg: Brothers and sisters! Hand them over to me!
Fathers and mothers: Give me your children!
— Chaim Rumkowski, September 4, 1942
Older men and women darkened their grey hair with coffee.
Sick people dragged themselves out of bed and used makeup to brighten their faces. Children tried to hide, with their parents’ help.
Sick people dragged themselves out of bed and used makeup to brighten their faces.
The story of Jeff’s sister, Tina and her husband discover thought to be lost family heirloom – a small silver powder compact that once belonged to Tina’s grandparents, Jakob and Tania Stopnicki. Jakob gave his wife, Tania the powder compact as a gift, for which he traded his daily ration of bread.
Ray Hiltz is Director of Virtual Reality for i24 Call Management Solutions. He's passionate about using collaboration to build a better workplace, country and world.
His ongoing challenge is to strike a balance between the digital and the real world. So far, it's proving difficult.
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