The largest Jewish ghetto in Nazi occupied Europe was a closed space, literally and figuratively, and 'an event closed in time'. The area of Warsaw where it had been was completely razed to the ground in 1943 and almost all of its inhabitants were murdered during the Second World War. With some exaggeration one could state that most of the world was only able to 'see' the ghetto at a time when neither the place nor its inhabitants existed any longer, and then only through the medium of photographs and film clips. Although it is not crucial for an understanding of history, the visual experience, as mediated by photographs, is unique and cannot be put into words. The photographs of the Warsaw ghetto come mainly from three sources: photographs taken by Jews (an insider's perspective intended as testimony for the outside world); snapshots taken secretly by German soldiers (an outside perspective on an 'exotic' environment); and film clips intended for official Nazi propaganda (the deliberate manipulation of reality). The aim of this work is to provide a semiological analysis of these photographs from the perspective of the intention of the photographer and from the perspective of possible contemporary interpretations of their message.
Financed by the National Centre for Research and Development under grant No. SP/I/1/77065/10 by the strategic scientific research and experimental development program:
SYNAT - “Interdisciplinary System for Interactive Scientific and Scientific-Technical Information”.