The New York Times reports on a meeting in London of former residents of the Lodz (pronounced wooj), Poland, Jewish ghetto to look at several thousand photos of ghetto life. The article says the photos are disconcerting because they show “scenes of the seemingly contented ghetto ‘elite,’ Jews who worked as ghetto supervisors and police officers or held coveted jobs.” The existence of this elite, Jews who ruled other Jews under German supervision, was no secret and is depicted in the movie The Pianist, for example. According to something I found on the Internet, they were called “kapos,” although that sounds to me more like a Mafia term.
For me, this goes along with my previous posting pointing out that there is a lot of “marketing” of the Holocaust, and that therefore this advertising does not give a totally accurate picture of what happened. There is no doubt that it was terrible, but there are questions about whether some of the much vaunted survivors survived because they cooperated with the Germans in oppressing (or worse) their Jewish compatriots.
The article continues:
“The photographs of the elite or the ‘protected class,’ as the survivors here called it, were the most striking in their departure from the stark pictures typically associated with the Holocaust. They featured smiling children in neatly pressed clothes, sitting around a table laden with food and drink for a party. A plump boy in a mini-policeman’s uniform, marching with his young friends around the street. Revelers gathered on top of a horse-drawn carriage.”
“For Mrs. Aronson, the photographs touch a more personal chord. She was indirectly a part of the elite, she said. Her father, who she said died after trying to save the children of her small town, knew Mr. Rumkowski and, because of that, Mrs. Aronson, her mother and brother were given good jobs. Hers was at an orphanage and later at a confectionary factory. She was in Lodz until the war ended.
“‘To say that we were privileged and that we knew we were going to survive is a load of rubbish,’ she said, adding that she, too, went hungry and feared for her life. ‘We had the same rations as everyone else. My brother got from the Germans a bit of food now and again. Food was the most important thing to survive.'”