Page 102 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 37

Basic HTML Version

tary in 1970 and then , with an expanded text, in English, seven
years later, is far shorter , and fa r more seering. Whereas the
images in the
were often drawn from Nazi sources, the
camera o f the la tter volume is Grossman’s own, and he views his
subjects, in the ghetto o f Lodz, with reverence. G rossman’s eye
falls no t on the steady deg rada tions inflicted upon the Nazis’
victims, bu t on the nobility o f endurance, the delicate dignities
which the suffering bestowed upon each o th e r even in the ir final
moments: a young woman speaks quietly to some ch ild ren
th rough the openings o f a wire fence as dea th is abou t to p a r t
them ; a g roup o f adults sits solemnly in a pensive circle. T h e
English edition contains fragmen ts o f a diary which serve as
commentary to the pho tog raphs , and it includes a b r ie f biog­
raphy o f Grossman who, like many o f his pho tog raphs , perished
in the Holocaust.
Z. Gostynski’s
Des Pierres Racontent
. . . (Paris, 1973) serves as an
un in ten tiona l sequel to G rossman’s images. T h e volume contains
pho tog raphs o f postwar Poland and shows us what has become o f
all its Jewish landmarks: ru ined synagogues, fallen tombstones,
splendid architectural details which now lie open to the elements.
And on a hill an enormous square is marked ou t in the grass:
beneath are buried those who fell dead into a communal pit. Earl
V innecour and Chuck Fishman’s
Polish Jews: The Last Chapter
(New York, 1977) presen ts some o f the same places. T h e ir p e r ­
spective is somewhat more lyrical, and less detailed; and they find
contradictory signs o f survival, fo r what catches the ir eye is not
the end o f Polish Jewry bu t the peculiar transfo rm a tion o f its
m o n um e n ts fo r new a n d s e cu la r p u rp o s e s . T h e Zamosc
synagogue has been tu rn e d in to a town library . T h e g rea t
synagogue o f Wlodawa is now a municipal garage, and in Warsaw
vandalized tombstones have been set into a reta in ing wall. T he
Synagogues of Hungary
(New York, 1968) are p resen ted more
elliptically. Heller and Vajda, the au thors o f the volume, survey
the history o f H ungarian Jews and then presen t the ir synagogues
as arch itec tural landmarks.
T he abiding question o f survival is most often raised in picture
books o f Israel, and in pho tograph ic studies o f American Jewish
life. Israel even more than New York is em inently photogenic,