Too many have denied the Holocaust. Even more have perpetuated the myth of passivity, the fallacy that six million Jews went docilely to their deaths, like lambs to the slaughter. It is important that future generations should know this to be untrue. In reality, wherever there was the slightest opportunity, Jews fought back. The Jewish people did their utmost to survive under unfathomably difficult circumstances in the forests, in the ghettos, and in the camps. We all fought for our lives and for the lives of our loved ones. Many fought with weapons in hand in the ghettos, as underground fighters in occupied cities and villages, as partisans in the forests, and simply as individuals who resisted those who came to destroy them.
Faye Schulman, part of the Jewish armed resistance against the Nazis, in A Partisan’s Memoir: Woman of the Holocaust (via anti-faschismus)
more Faye Schulman
No Place on Earth brings to light an extraordinary true tale of survival that remained untold for decades. In 1993, Chris Nicola, an American cave enthusiast, was exploring the Ukraine’s “gypsum giants,” some of the longest horizontal caves in the world. Within this labyrinth, he came across signs of former human habitation: buttons, an old house key, a woman’s dress shoe. Locals told him that during World War II, there were rumours of Jewish families hiding from the Nazis in the caves. No one knew what happened to them; over ninety-five per cent of the Jews in this region of Ukraine perished in the Holocaust. It took Nicola nine years to uncover the secret that the cave survivors had kept to themselves after emigrating to Canada and the United States — now, they were ready to tell their story. Built upon interviews with five former cave inhabitants, No Place on Earth is a testament to ingenuity, willpower and endurance against all odds. In total, thirty-eight people of all ages wound up living in the caves for nearly eighteen months, until the region was liberated by Soviet Army — the longest underground survival in recorded human history. The survivors recount their harrowing experiences in this harsh environment as they learned to find food, water and supplies and built secret escape routes to evade capture or being buried alive. Director Janet Tobias brings their memories to life with artful re-enactments that vividly recreate this unimaginable existence beneath the earth.
Screening in Toronto at 3pm tomorrow (March 3, 2013) at TIFF Bell Lightbox, presented by the Toronto Jewish Film Festival with Toronto Human Rights Watch Film Festival. Buy tickets. [via]
Sunday, May 12, 2013 // 7:30pm
Buttenwieser Hall, Lexington Avenue at 92nd St, NY
Images of the Holocaust have been iconic in the West, shaping and reflecting collective memory. But in the Soviet Union, the very notion of the Holocaust did not exist, and images of violence against Jews were silenced. Join Olga Gershenson as we explore these forgotten films and restore the missing pieces.
Photographer Faye Schulman reunites with three Jewish partisans from Warsaw. Schulman and the three men had thought that each other had been killed. Poland, 1943.
Born in 1925 in Lenin, Poland, Schulman grew up in a small town in what is now Belarus. In 1939, Russia and Germany divided Poland, and Lenin fell under Russian jurisdiction.
Schulman’s brother, a photographer, taught her how to take pictures, process negatives and develop prints. She worked as his assistant. She also knew a little about medicine, as her brother-in-law was a doctor.
When the Nazis invaded in 1941, they forced the town’s 1,800 Jews into a ghetto — except for six “useful Jews.” Among them: a tailor, a carpenter and a photographer.
Schulman was recruited to take pictures for the Nazis (her brother had already fled town). She would snap headshots of Nazi officials and portraits of their mistresses.
One day, she developed a photograph that was clearly a mass grave of Jews who had been killed. Peering closely at the print, she recognized her own family. She hid the negative in a box of photo paper to assure it would remain safe and unseen.
She vowed vengeance and sought justice in the forest with a group of Russians — mostly men and overwhelmingly non-Jews — she’d met up with when they raided Lenin for supplies.
She begged them to take her along. They were doubtful of her worth; what good was a woman? But she promised she could serve as a doctor’s assistant, and they accepted her into the group.
She recovered her photography equipment during a subsequent raid on Lenin.
Schulman hid her Jewish identity. During Passover, she ate only potatoes, never explaining why.
She made sure her fellow partisans remained healthy through the harshness of winter, and tended to their periodic battle wounds.
She made her own stop bath and fixer, and buried bottles of the solutions in holes in the ground, retrieving them when needed.
For two years, she lived in the forest and documented life there. She would make “sun prints” by putting the negative next to photographic paper and holding it toward the sun. She’d then give them to fellow resistance fighters.
“They treasured their pictures and respected me for it,” she said.
She married after the war. She and her husband, Morris, could take very little with them to the displaced persons camp in Germany. Though she had very few belongings after two years in the forest, Schulman possessed many, many photos and negatives. She selected only her favorite prints and negatives to take with her to the DP camp, where she spent three years. She brought those with her to Canada.
In the [“Pictures of Resistance: The Photography of Jewish Partisan Faye Schulman”] exhibit, each photo is paired with a lengthy explanation of the image. The text is in Schulman’s own words, recorded during an interview Braff conducted with her in her Toronto home in 2005.
She also wrote a book chronicling her story. “A Partisan’s Memoir: Woman of the Holocaust” was published in 1995.
“I want people to know there was resistance,” Faye said during that interview, the text of which is displayed with the photo exhibit.
“Jewish people didn’t go like sheep to the slaughter … I was a photographer. I have pictures. I have proof.” (via jweekly)
more on Faye Schulman
a Jewish partisan in eastern Poland (now Belarus), WWII
from the exhibition Pictures of Resistance: The Wartime Photography of Jewish Partisan Faye Schulman, Galicia Jewish Museum
This Jewish partisan actually is Faye Schulman in 1943.
Georgii Zelma, “The First Common Graves,” Stalingrad, 1942
A lonely image of a Soviet cemetery in Stalingrad, one of the many common graves that dotted the war-torn landscape, reminds us of the cost of war. Bedframes mark the edge of this place of death as a makeshift headstone with a Soviet star stands sentinel at the far end of the photograph. (via TIME)
Dmitri Baltermants, “Behind Enemy Lines,” 1941
A formation of Soviet cavalrymen is in fact of partisan units, risking their lives by riding out in the open. Baltermants’ photograph edifies the partisans, who played an important role in undermining the German occupation of parts of the Soviet Union. During and after the war, partisans were heralded as the bravest fighters against Nazi fighters, and the only ones living under German occupation untainted by the possibility of collaboration. (via TIME)
This photograph is part of the Through Soviet Jewish Eyes: Photography, War, and the Holocaust exhibition, based on David Shneer’s book of the same name, on view at the New York Museum of Jewish Heritage until April 7, 2013.