• My Secret Camera
     
    My Secret Camera.Photographs by Mendel Grossman and text by Frank   Dabba Smith.  Gulliver Books of Harcourt, Inc.:  New York, 2000.                                                                                                                                          
    Book Jacket
     
    Brief overview:

    This book chronicles life in the Lodz Ghetto through the lenses of Mendel Grossmans camera. While confined in the ghetto, Mr. Grossman secretly photographed life in the ghetto by keeping a camera in his raincoat.  He distributed them to others and hid the best negatives in a wooden crate under a windowsill in his apartment. 

     
    Historical Note:

    The Lodz Ghetto was one of the largest ghettoes in Poland; second to the Warsaw Ghetto.  Between 150,000 - 200,000 Jews were forced to live in 20 city blocks, where they lived with 7-8 people in a room.

     

    Suggested activities:
     
    1.  Because this is a book containing untitled photographs an excellent exercise for the students would be to have them give titles or captions for each photograph. The students could share them with the rest of the class and explain how they decided on their particular title or caption.

    2.  Without reading any of the text of this book have students look at photographs and have them write a description of what they think daily life was like in the Lodz Ghetto.

    3.  Some excerpts from the diary by David Sierakawiak from 1939-1942 would be a good companion for this book.  A good excerpt can be found in Images of the Holocaust p. 17.  It comes from the David Sierakawaik' Diary by Alan Adelson and Robert Lapides; published by the Jewish Heritage Writing Project, 1986.

    4.  Have students research both the
    Lodz Ghetto and the Warsaw Ghetto, both in Poland.  Working in a small group they should create a Venn diagram showing the similarities and differences between the two.

    5.  Discuss the importance of these photographs.  Why do you think Mel Grossman was willing to risk his life to do this?  What are the results of such documentation?

    6.  Questions to discuss during the reading of the book:
         In what ways did the Jewish people help each other in the ghetto?
         How did the people hold onto their pride and spirit in the midst of
     inhumanity?   
         What are some examples of spiritual resistance demonstrated by those imprisoned in 
         Lodz ghetto?
    7.  A website with some of Mr. Grossman's photographs and others can be found

    http://www.us-israel.org/jsource/Holocaust/lodzpictoc.html

    8.  To find out about the establishment of the Lodz Ghetto and daily life you can find information at

    http://www.us-israel.org/jsource/Holocaust/lodz.html
    http://www.shtetlinks.jewishgen.org/Lodz/holocaust.htm

    9.  To read oral testimonies of Holocaust survivors, some of whom were in the Lodz  Ghetto try this site:                                                                

    http://www.shtetlinks.jewishgen.org/Lodz/holocaust.htm#Testimonies