|Catalog No.||2765||Similar Items|
|Brief Description||Mendel Grosman: Jews at Prayer||Similar Items|
|Artist||Grosman Mendel, Lodz||Similar Items|
|Donor||Grosman - Zil - Bar - Zylbersztajn Shoshana||Similar Items|
|Technique||Pencil drawing||Similar Items|
|Period||Before World War II||Similar Items|
|Date of Work||1931||Similar Items|
|Work specifications/size||19.8X16.5 סמ. חתום ומתוארך: ימין למעלה 1931, M. GROSMAN||Similar Items|
|Artist's Original Title||לא||Similar Items|
|databank||Art Collection||Similar Items|
Mendel Grosman: Jews at Prayer.
A group of Jews praying; foreground: two bearded men seated with open books.
Menachem (Mendel) Grosman was born on June 27, 1913, in the town of Grozkowice, Poland, to Hanna - Ruda and Shmuel - David, both of whom perished in the Lodz ghetto during WWII. Grosman's artistic talent, particularly in drawing and painting, was already apparent in his childhood. He was influenced by his father, a learned Chasid who in his free time painted on glass and made artistic paper cuttings. After the First World War the family moved to Lodz, residing at 58 Pilsudski Street.
In his youth, Mendel Grosman began taking amateur photographs, then became a professional, taking portraits which he colored at home with aniline paints. He became part of a group of Jewish artists, painters, musicians, poets, and actors, and studied drawing with the artist Zvi - Hersh Szylis, who lavishly praised his pupil in artistic circles. Grosman’s sketchbook from that period includes pencil drawings, one a depiction of a group of prisoners, inspired by Gorky's play, "The Lower Depths."
When the Habimah theatre troupe from Mandatory Palestine appeared in Lodz in 1938, Grosman photographed all their performances from the wings. This innovative series, differing from the usual practice of staging photos of actors posing in scenes from the plays, won Grosman great acclaim among photographers. A few months before the outbreak of WWII, he was taking photographs for an album to be published by the welfare organization TOZ (Towarzystwo Ochrony Zdrowia Ludnosci Zydowskiej; the Society for the Preservation of Health of the Jewish Population).
Upon the German occupation of Lodz, Grosman and his family were forced to move into the ghetto. He found work with the Statistics Bureau, photographing people for their work permits, as well as ghetto - produced goods for catalogues used by the Germans. At great risk to his own life, Grosman also photographed what was happening in the streets and courtyards of the ghetto. In September 1942, during the “Aktion” deporting the ghetto's children and elderly to the Chelmno extermination camp, Grosman photographed hundreds of Jews who were shot and killed.
At the beginning of August 1944, when it became known that the Lodz ghetto’s liquidation was imminent, Grosman concealed some ten thousand negatives of ghetto photographs in his apartment. He was deported to the Sachsenhausen concentration camp, where he remained until the camp's liquidation on April 16, 1945. Exhausted and sick, he was shot during a death march.
After the war, Grosman's sister Ruzka retrieved the hidden negatives and managed to get them to Palestine, but they were lost during Israel's War of Independence. However, hundreds of printed photographs survived, that had been hidden by Grosman's friend, Nachman Zonabend. These photos are now held in the archives of the Ghetto Fighters' House, Yad Vashem, the Museum of Jewish Heritage (New York) and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (Washington D.C.).
The book, "With a Camera in the Ghetto” (1970, published by the Ghetto Fighters’ House in English, Hebrew, and French) includes a selection of Mendel Grosman's photographs with captions and a biographical essay. "My Secret Camera," another collection of Grosman's photographs with commentary in English, was published in 2000. Yad Vashem’s film on Mendel Grosman was awarded an honorable mention in the Holocaust biography category in a competition organized by the Judah L. Magnes Museum, and "Fotogeschichte," the prestigious German photography journal, devoted an issue to Grosman's photographs of the Lodz ghetto. Close