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Yad Vashem Photographs from the Warsaw Ghetto


Of particular note among the vast quantity of documentation pertaining to the Warsaw Ghetto found in various archives and libraries, is the tremendous number of photographs. There are photos portraying almost every aspect of life and death there. These photos fall into several categories: from amateur pictures, through photos taken by journalists and professional propagandists, to three-dimensional and color photos. Generally speaking there are two types of photos that were taken in the ghetto, and these can be further divided into sub-categories: photos that were taken by the Germans, and those that were photographed by others. The ghetto residents were very restricted in terms of their opportunities for photography. There were very few cameras, and if they were available it was difficult both to acquire film and to develop the pictures. For this reason, almost all of the photos we have from non-German sources were taken by photographers who came from outside the ghetto. The German photographers, on the other hand, had all the necessary technical means at their disposal, whether they were official photographers or amateurs. That is why most of the photographic documentation we have concerning the Warsaw Ghetto comes from German sources. That does not mean that as a result of this the photographic coverage is somehow lacking, because the German photographers chose to immortalize a variety of scenes from the ghetto, not only those that served their propaganda image. We have chosen to present here four important collections of photos of the Warsaw Ghetto from the Yad Vashem archives. These collections cover four completely different perspectives of the ghetto, and they are a sampling of the various spheres that were documented on film in the ghetto, as well as the different photographers who worked there.