Unseen Photos From Warsaw Ghetto Uprising Found in Attic

They're the only known photographs not taken by German forces
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 23, 2023 2:26 AM CST
Updated Jan 23, 2023 3:35 AM CST
Never Before Seen Photos From Inside Warsaw Ghetto Uprising Discovered
This handout negative dated on April 20, 1943, and taken by Polish firefighter Zbigniew Leszek Grzywaczewski negative shows Jewish people being evacuated from the ghetto to Umschlagplatz during the uprising of the Warsaw ghetto in 1943, Poland.   (ZL Grzywaczewski/courtesy of Maciej Grzywaczewski/POLIN Museum via AP)

Found in an attic in Poland last month were a number of photographs taken inside the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising—the only known photographs from inside the 1943 uprising not taken by German forces to be used as Nazi propaganda, NPR reports. An exhibition honoring the 80th anniversary of the uprising is planned for April at Warsaw’s POLIN museum of Jewish history, and as they planned the exhibit last year, curators wondered how to illustrate it without using the propaganda photos, the Guardian reports. A dozen photographs taken by Polish firefighter Zbigniew Leszek Grzywaczewski were stored at the Holocaust Museum in Washington, DC, so curator Zuzanna Schnepf-Kolacz started trying to track Grzywaczewski down.

He'd died in 1992, but his son was able to find a reel of film with 33 images from inside the uprising, which will be used in the exhibit. As German forces were burning down the ghetto, they called in Polish firefighters, including Grzywaczewski, to make sure the fire didn't destroy buildings outside the ghetto. Grzywaczewski, an avid photographer, nonetheless took blurry photos that were not always framed well, indicating he was taking them in secret. They show burning buildings and German guards leading Jews out of the ghetto, and in a diary he kept at the time, he wrote, "The image of these people being dragged out of there will stay with me for the rest of my life. Figures staggering from hunger and dismay, filthy, ragged. Shot dead en masse; those still alive falling over the bodies of the ones who have already been annihilated." The uprising was the largest one the Jews staged during World War II. (More Warsaw Uprising stories.)

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