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Page from an album showing Polish Jews
Swann Galleries - New York
Art & Storytelling: Photographs & Photobooks, Feb 25, 2016, Sale 2406, Lot: 61
Album with 168 carefully composed photographs in occupied Poland by a Nazi photographer.
Many of them depicting the town of Strzyzow, including 15 of the Jewish population. With views of Polish Jews wearing armbands; forced labor workers; Rabbis with yellow badges; a minyan of Jewish men in prayer; a Jewish policeman ("kapo") supervising slave workers; and children reading a Notice Board posted by Die Sturmer, the weekly tabloid-format Nazi newspaper published by Julius Streicher (a prominent Nazi propaganda official), with slogans "We the Jews are destroying the country" and "The Jews are our misfortune." With additional images of Polish types, street scenes, a mining camp, Cracow, the Russian/German city of Premysi, and Nazi officials. Silver prints, each 2x2 1/8 inches (5.1x5.4 cm.), mounted recto/verso, each print is numbered, and many pages with headings and captions (in German), in white pencil. Oblong 4to, multi-colored leathertte; ties; internally and externally excellent.
This important and unusual album illustrates a startling disconnect between the brutal Nazi program, which was enforced by militiamen like this photographer, and his quietly poetic pictures.
The album is organized in two parts: the first includes 108 photographs that were taken by a Nazi officer with a sensitive approach to portraiture and a poetic exploration of available light. The second portion of the album contains an additional 60 photographs by the same photographer of a mining camp with views of slave workers, machinery, construction scenes, and Nazi officials inspecting various sites.
Strzyzow, which was located in central Galicia in the southern part of Poland, midway between Rzeszow and Yaslo, was known mostly to Jews living in the the foothills of the Carpathian Mountains, especially admirers of Rabbi Shlomo Shapiro and his son, who left Strzyzow and moved to Munkatch (where Vishniac photographed in the 1930s). To scholars of Jewish history, Strzyzow was a place where famous Rabbis resided; many of them later became religious leaders throughout Galicia.