In 2018, when the exhibition Memory Unearthed: The Lodz Ghetto Photographs of Henryk Ross was on view at the Museum, Lodz Ghetto survivors Ray Kaner and Dr. Salomea Kape told us their Lodz Ghetto histories.
Ms. Ray Kaner was born in Lodz, Poland. She endured the Lodz Ghetto. Ms. Kaner was transported to Auschwitz in August 1944 during the liquidation of the ghetto. She was later transported to the labor camp in Hambieren, Germany where she was liberated by the British on April 15, 1945. She and her husband arrived in New York City in 1946. Ms. Kaner has been an active volunteer with the Museum and has shared her history extensively as a member of the Speakers Bureau.
Dr. Salomea Kape was born in Lodz, Poland in 1926. In 1939, Dr. Kape and her family were forced to live in the Lodz ghetto, where they spent all five years of Nazi occupation. She was liberated by the Russians, who she credits to giving her back her life. Dr. Kape went to medical school and eventually became the director of the Anesthesia department at a Hospital in Brooklyn. At the age of 82, Dr. Kape retired and began to frequently speak about her experience during the Holocaust at the Museum of Jewish Heritage – A Living Memorial to the Holocaust, in addition to schools and universities. She also shared her story in Polish, and was invited to speak in Lodz multiple times. Dr. Kape died in 2021.
About the Lodz Ghetto
Lodz, Poland was a flourishing industrial city in the mid-1800s with a successful textile sector and a mixture of Polish, German, Czech and Jewish inhabitants. Before World War II, a third of the population of 672,000 was Jewish. Lodz’s Jewish residents played a significant role in the economic and cultural life of the city.
In 1939, after World War II began, the German Army invaded Lodz and later renamed it “Litzmannstadt.” As the Nazi regime terrorized the city and destroyed Polish monuments, Catholic churches, and Jewish synagogues, many members of the Jewish population fled to other European countries.
In the video clip below, Lodz Ghetto survivor Ray Kaner recounts the start of WWII and how Jews were being treated prior to being sealed into the Lodz Ghetto.
In early 1940, the Nazis rounded up more than 160,000 of the remaining Jews and forced them into the Lodz Ghetto. The Nazis then isolated the Lodz Jews from the rest of the world using barbed wire, sentry booths and a German police patrol. The ghetto was an area of less than 1.6 square miles situated in the poorest part of the city.
Ray Kaner on how food deprivation in the ghetto affected her brother.
The conditions in the Lodz Ghetto were atrocious from the start and steadily deteriorated until the summer of 1944, when the Nazis sent most of the remaining residents to death camps.
Dr. Salomea Kape survived the Lodz Ghetto. in the video below, she remembers the isolation of the ghetto and how people started to ‘disappear.’
From August 9 – August 28, 1944, SS and police units deported more than 60,000 Jews and an undetermined number of Roma to Auschwitz-Birkenau, which was the last large-scale deportation to Auschwitz during the Holocaust.