Editor’s note: Henryk Ross took the photos shown in this entry. The friendship he and his wife Stefania developed with the Kape family is detailed below.
By Salomea Kape, M.D.
My husband and I became friends with the Ross family in Jaffa, Israel in the early 1960s. We all carried the heavy weight of remembrance of the life in the Lodz Ghetto. Stefania and Henryk were more than 15 years older than I was but the difference in age was unimportant. We clicked with each other like old friends; after all, we shared the same past in a place called the Lodz Ghetto.
My son, John, was born in 1963 and Stefa became a second mother to John.
Look at her happy face when she is holding him in her arms.
I never had friends like Stefa and Henryk.
I didn’t see Henryk’s ghetto photos in Israel because he had not yet developed them. Looking at the photos in the Museum’s exhibition, I feel a sense of déjà vu and a paralyzing fear: Had Rumkowski or the Nazis found the concealed pictures back then, Henryk and Stefania would have been sent to Chelmno or Auschwitz.
Stefa knew the life-threatening risk that Henryk took with each unofficial photo, but she encouraged him to capture and hide the negatives for future generations. Without Stefa, this exhibit would have never taken place. I salute my dear friends, Henryk and Stefania, brave human beings who documented what really happened in the Lodz Ghetto. I am so grateful that we became devoted friends in Jaffa, Israel.
About the author: Salomea Kape and her family were imprisoned in the Lodz ghetto in 1940. They remained in the ghetto until the liberation by the Soviet Army on January 19, 1945. Salomea went back to school and graduated from Lodz Medical School in 1952. In 1957, Dr. Kape and her husband left Poland for Israel where their son John was born in 1963. The Kape family moved to New York in 1966. Dr. Kape was the Director of the Anesthesia Department at Caledonian Hospital in Brooklyn and she retired from medicine at the age of 82.
Dr. Kape is a former gallery educator and volunteer translator at the Museum. Her war stories have been published in the US, Poland and Germany. Dr. Kape continues to do presentations at high schools & colleges about her experiences as a teenager in the Lodz Ghetto.