About the Photo Archive
"Mendel takes out his camera. No flowers, clouds, nature, still lifes or landscapes-anymore. Among the horrors surrounding him he found his mission: tophotograph and leave testimony for future generations about the huge tragedy unfolding before his eyes."
Thus was the description of Aryeh Ben Menachem concerning the essence of the work by the Lodz Ghetto photographer, Mendel Grossman, in his book "With a Camera in the Ghetto." Aryeh Ben Menachem was himself a photographer, and during the war he worked as Grossman's assistant. Unlike Grossman, who perished in a German labor camp in April 1944, Ben Menachem survived the Holocaust. Thanks to Ben Menachem, hundreds of photographs taken by the two men in the ghetto, also survived. This collection is part of the Yad Vashem Photo Archive.
Mendel Grossman's photos constitute only a small portion of the historical photos that comprise the Yad Vashem Photo Archive collection. The Yad Vashem historical photo collection has its origins in the documentation projects carried out by individuals and organizations in the years immediately after World War II. The opening of the Yad Vashem Archives in 1955 marked the consolidation of collections of photos that had been amassed until that date. In 1983 Yad Vashem established a separate department which coordinates all activities connected with the Photo Archive, including collecting, cataloging and researching historical photos related to the Holocaust. In 1993, Yad Vashem began its computerized Photo Archive catalogue and in 1998 began a project to scan the photos. The photos in this collection constitute a valuable resource for historians, teachers, students, writers and film producers, as well for as the general public.
This collection of historical photos covers a wide range of subjects including Jewish life before the Holocaust, Jewish life during the Holocaust, the life of Jewish survivors in Europe after the war, and activities to commemorate the Holocaust in various places around the world. These photos come from a wide variety of sources: official archives, private collections, museums, various historical collections and other sources.
The collection on display contains 130,000 historical photos. In the future Yad Vashem hopes to add more photos to the web site as individual photos and collections arrive at and are incorporated into the current Photo Archive. Photos are displayed based on approval of the rights owner and are not displayed if their publication would constitute a violation of the right to privacy.
This photo collection, which is presented as a public service, constitutes the largest existing collection related to the subject of the Holocaust. It is an actualization of the heritage bequeathed to us by Mendel Grossman.