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December 09, 2010 - Image 18

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2010-12-09

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Moving Up

Horror Eyewitness

HMC exhibits German soldier's photographs of the Warsaw Ghetto.

Robyn GoreII
Special to the Jewish News



t was his birthday and Wehrmacht
Sgt. Heinz Jost decided to spend that
September 1941 day doing something
different. Defying strict regulations, he
went exploring the Warsaw Ghetto, tak-
ing his camera with him. What he saw
fascinated and horrified him. Carefully,
so as not to attract attention, he took
photographs — illegally — of the scenes
revealed before his eyes: the street life,
beggars, children, the dead and the burials.
Deeply moved, Joost returned to his
barracks, hiding those pictures from his
fellow soldiers. He apparently was so dis-
turbed by the experience that he kept the
photos concealed from everyone, includ-
ing his wife and family, for more than 40
A traveling exhibit of 85 of those
photos, "A Day in the Warsaw Ghetto: A
Birthday Trip in Hell;' will be on display at
the Holocaust Memorial Center Zekelman
Family Campus beginning Dec. 12 and
running through March 13. The exhibition
is co-sponsored by the Workmen's Circle/
Arbeter Ring.
A grand opening will be held at 1 p.m.,
Sunday, Dec. 12, with featured speaker,
historian Samuel Kassow.
In 1982, Jost gave his collection of 129
photos to Gunther Schwarberg, editor of
Stern magazine. In 1987, Schwarberg pre-
sented them to Israel's Yad Vashem, where
curators selected those for this exhibit.
They depict the diversity of conditions,
including people who are starving and ill,
newcomers still thriving, illegal schools,
people praying together and book peddlers
plying their trade amidst death and disease.
Passages from original diaries written by
ghetto residents provide historical context
and complement the photographs.
Originally, the Smithsonian Institution
Traveling Exhibition Service circulated the
exhibit throughout the United States.
Jost explained to Schwarberg his obser-
vations of what the photos portrayed. These
comments were turned into captions. He
described the picture of the two young
children shown here as, "I can't say what
street this was on. They were sitting around
everywhere, these starving children beg-
ging for a little money:'
The Warsaw Ghetto was destroyed 19
months after the photos were shot. By then,
the already horrendous conditions had
deteriorated further.
An Oak Park resident, Abram Shain, grew

20 December 9 • 2010

New program
trains leaders.

oung Detroit-area socially
engaged Jewish residents will
have an opportunity to make
a real difference in their community
through a new leadership development
program being initiated by Jewish Funds
for Justice (JFSJ).
The 18-monthlong
leadership and man-
agement program
is being launched
in partnership with
the University of
Michigan's Jewish
Communal Leadership
Funded by a
$153,000 grant from
the Detroit Jewish
community's Jewish
Fund, the Detroit
Area Community
Leadership Initiative
will help participants
identify, develop and
Simon Greer
implement a long-
term project helping vulnerable indi-
viduals improve conditions across the
Detroit area. Applications for interested
participants will be available at jew-
ishjustice.org beginning Dec.13.
"The Jewish Fund has studied this
program for several years, including
its accomplishments elsewhere and its
capacity for similar success in Detroit:'
said Michael Maddin, chair of the Jewish
"Following many meetings with their
senior staff, defining and refining their
stated goals and activities to be imple-
mented in our community, we believe it
has the potential to serve as a catalyst
for numerous positive impacts upon the
city, which align well with the mission of
the Jewish Fund."
"We believe that the Jewish commu-
nity can, and should, play a lead role in
rebuilding Detroit into a strong, healthy
and vibrant community," said Simon
Greer, president and CEO of Jewish Funds
for Justice. "We believe the initiative our
participants will set into motion will con-
tinue to reap benefits for Detroit's most
vulnerable, year after year."
Working across Jewish denomina-
tions, JFSJ seeks to create a just, fair and
compassionate America by transforming
the way Jews do social justice. In fiscal
year 2010, JFSJ developed 1,500 leaders
and strengthened 500 organizations.



"This woman stood with closed eyes in front of a wall of tattered posters
announcing a symphony concert with Szymon Pullman in the concert hall at

Rymarska 12 and a program at the Cafe Ogrod in Nowolipki Street 36. She was
selling padded armbands with the Star of David on them, which every Jew was

required to wear. She looked as though she was about to topple over and die the

next moment."

- Sgt. Heinz Jost

up in Warsaw, but ran away with two
friends at age 17, not long before the rest
of his family was forced into the Warsaw
Ghetto. His family was transported sub-
sequently to concentration camps where
most perished. Shain eventually made
his way to the Soviet Union, working first
in a labor camp, before finding employ-
ment as a barber. He returned briefly to
Warsaw, his birthplace in 1957.
"Hitler robbed me of my family," he
told a Polish resident who asked him
why he was screaming and crying in
the street. Today, he still searches for the
brother he believes may have survived.
The launch of the exhibit coincides with
the opening of the Holocaust Memorial
Center's art gallery and temporary exhibi-
tions area. This has been carved out of
former storage areas and features 1,500
square feet of uninterrupted floor space
with an entry area, state-of-the art light-
ing, moveable interior walls, acoustic
treatment and a structural roof grid
where exhibit materials can be hung.
For more information, hours and
admission, call (248) 553-2400 or visit
www.holocaustcenter.org. The museum
is closed on Saturdays.

"l can't say what street this was on. They
were sitting around everywhere, these

starving children begging for a little


- Sgt. Heinz Jost

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