This week the world marked the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz extermination camp. And this weekend the Art Gallery of Ontario unveils an exhibition of rare, arresting photographs of the Lodz Ghetto in German-occupied Poland where, during the Second World War, more than 160,000 Jews were brutally interned by the Nazis before being deported for liquidation at Auschwitz and Chelmno.
The 200-plus photos, included in a 2007 donation to the AGO by the Archive of Modern Conflict, were among the thousands shot in Lodz, often clandestinely, by a Polish-Jewish photojournalist, Henryk Ross, assigned to the Jewish Administration's statistics department. Ross, who miraculously survived extermination, buried his negatives in Lodz, then after its liberation, recovered them, taking the work in 1956 to Israel, where he lived until his death in 1991.
Titled Memory Unearthed, the AGO exhibition – on until June 14 – is a Canadian first, complemented by the presentation of film footage, contact sheets, ghetto ephemera, an impressive catalogue and a selection of colour prints of Slovak Judaica lensed by contemporary Toronto photographer Yuri Dojc. It promises to be an unforgettable show of a time and a world we cannot forget, much as we may wish we could.
An earlier version of this story said an exhibition this weekend at the Art Gallery of Ontario is showing photographs of Poland's Lodz Ghetto. It has been changed to be described as the Lodz Ghetto in German-occupied Poland.