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November 28: The Partisan Photographer

November 28, 2014
IT-Schulman-Portrait-largeFaye Lazebnik Schulman, who at 16 was running her family’s photography business in Lenin, Poland, was born on this date in 1919. When the Nazis killed 1,850 of her compatriots in three trenches in 1942, including her parents and younger siblings, they kept her alive to develop photographs of themselves, of their girlfriends, and of the massacre. Schulman kept copies of the photos for herself, then fled to the forests to join the Molotava Brigade, a partisan group consisting mostly of escaped Soviet prisoners of war. She served with them as a nurse for two years. During one of the group’s raids on her hometown for supplies, Schulman had them burn down her family home but recovered her old photographic equipment, with which she took over a hundred photographs over the next two years. She developed the negative under blankets and as “sun prints” on photo paper. After the war, she lived in the USSR as a war hero and married a fellow partisan, but in order to emigrate to Palestine they took themselves to a Displaced Persons camp in Germany, where they helped smuggle arms to the nascent Jewish state. After she gave birth, however, they opted for Canada instead, where she still lives today. To see some of her photographs and hear her voice, look below. ““I want people to know that there was resistance. Jews did not go like sheep to the slaughter. Many fought back — if there was the slightest opportunity — and thousands lost their lives fighting the enemy and working to save lives. I was a photographer. I have pictures. I have proof.” —Faye Schulman