Rambling ...

I'm an Irish Girl, A Dubliner, with the 'Gift of the Gab' ... I like to talk & to tell you things. In Celtic times news, views and comment were carried from place to place by wandering Seanachaí ~ Storytellers ~ who relied on their host's hospitality and appreciation. I will need that from you too, as I venture to share Politics, Poetry, Laughter, Love, Life & everything in-between ... from Bog to Blog!!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Haunted by the Holocaust ... Poland in Pictures!!

She has such natural beauty, she could pass for a movie star.
She smiles, her demeanour relaxed. In normal times, this young woman would surely have enjoyed a bright and happy future, perhaps with a  husband, children, grandchildren.
But soon after this photograph was taken, she would face almost certain death.

These are AMAZING Pictures .... Hitler's photographer Hugo Jaeger took these photographs in a disused sugar factory turned makeshift Ghetto in the Polish town of Kutno at various times in 1939 and 1940, although he is usually is associated with depicting the 'glory' of the third reich.  This local ghetto was liquidated in early spring of 1942 and most of the Jews here pictures were gassed in Auschwitz.  Poland's Jewry & Culture are no more today .... So this is a Sad & Special Posting!

 Hugo Jaeger's photographs normally celebrate the glory and triumphalism of the Third Reich yet the remarkable colour images I have reproduced here were taken by the Führer’s personal photographer, a loyal follower given unprecedented access to the Third Reich’s elite.   Hugo Jaeger was allowed to travel with Hitler to record his appearances at rallies, intimate parties and in private moments. More usually he dedicated himself to lionising his leader and what the Nazis regarded as their most triumphant moments.  

Here, it appears, he seems simply to have been fascinated by faces from a different faith in a country under siege. He is said not to have shared Hitler’s unqualified hatred of Jews. Hence, whether he intended it or not, Jaeger’s camera captured an atmosphere rarely seen before horror and carnage overtook it.   Kutno, 75 miles west of Warsaw, had been bombarded and turned into a ghetto soon after Hitler’s invasion in September 1939.
After so many years, it is impossible to know for certain why so many people in the photographs are smiling.   None appears to have been forced to pose,  none seems to display any fear.    Its sugar factory would be  surrounded by barbed wire and used to imprison 8,000 Jews, crammed into appalling conditions.   Some would die of infection or starvation. Others would not live through the bitter cold of the winter.  The ghetto existed until 1942, when most of its surviving inhabitants were sent to death camps.  To the best of my knowledge no one in these pictures survived the horrors of the War.

Incredibly, these photographs did.  The Kutno ghetto was ‘liquidated’ as part of the Final Solution in the spring of 1942.  In 1945, as the Allies advanced into Germany, Jaeger knew he would be arrested and tried as a war criminal if he was caught with so many intimate photos of the defeated Führer.  So after secreting them, initially in a leather suitcase, he buried them in airtight glass jars outside Munich, returning from time to time to check they were safe.  Two decades after the war ended, he sold them to Life magazine in 1965.  Now,  the pictures have gone online at Life.com. Despite attempts to identify some of the subjects, no record was ever found of the smiling young woman or any of the citizens depicted here.  Historians said it would be astonishing if she or any had survived. At least the camera immortalised them.   These photos have been released to mark the official establishment of the Warsaw Ghetto in October 1940 and the entire set are on display at Life.com HERE!!

Watch with me ......    Each Photograph is individually captioned!



An elderly man with a yellow Star ~ denoting Jew fixed to his chest, speaks with German officers as he and other Jews are Rounded up!
In their tattered rags the two boys smile for the camera, but the man in the centre, most probably their father, has a look of distrust etched across his face for the foreign camera
These young Jewish girls couldn't possibly have imagined the horrors that lay ahead as they pose outside their tent in another haunting photograph taken by the ardent Nazi Hugo Jaeger
Jewish inhabitants of the Kutno Ghetto stand near a car which has been converted into a makeshift house in early 1940
An elderly Jewish woman bends over her stove while a man, his Star badge clearly visible, watches over her in the Kutno Ghetto
A Jewish woman uses a washing board to clean clothes in the Kutno

While most Jaeger's photographs focus on the glory and triumphalism of the Reich, here he has chosen instead to capture the misery of the conquered people instead
A young woman clutches a jug as she escorts an elderly Jewish Scholar through the Kutno Ghetto in early 1940. One of the Saddest Images

Life .... An Ariel View!

With their clean clothes and hair neatly coiffured, these three young women do not, at first glance, appear anything like Jaeger's other subjects. But look closer and you find their star as on the coat of the girl on the left

In 1942, as part of Hitler's 'final solution' the Nazis began Operation Reinhardt, the plan to eliminate all of Poland's Jews. In the spring of 1942 the Kutno Ghetto itself was 'liquidated'

No one in the above pictures survived.  All perished in Auschwicz.   All Statistics ~ Some of Six Million!

 Taken from the Daily Mail ..... http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2219304/Haunting-smile-girl-facing-Holocaust-How-Hitlers-PERSONAL-photographer-captured-history-plight-Jews-Nazi-occupied-Poland.html

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