Faye Schulman, a Jew photographer who spent two years as a supporter resistance fighting on the Eastern Front during WWII and also captured the atrocities committed by the nazis, died at the age of 101.
Almost eight decades since the Holocaust started, those who have witnessed and experienced such violence are beginning to decrease in number. It is the images, like those taken by Schulman, that will be viewed and studied when the horrors of war have faded from collective memory. Schulman, armed with a Photo-Porst Nurnberg, which she kept until her death, is one of the many people who played their part in documenting the tragedy.
It was her talent as a photographer – which she developed with the help of her brother, Moishe – that saved her life when the Nazis occupied Poland. In May 1942, the ghetto that had been established in Schulman’s hometown of Lenin was liquidated and nearly 2,000 people, including his parents and six siblings, were murdered.
The Nazis, judging his talents as a precious photographer, spared him the same fate as the rest of his family. Instead, she was put to work photographing the massacre, which included the bodies of her loved ones. Determined that Lenin’s events be exposed, Schulman secretly made additional copies of the photographs.
Schulman was adrift after witnessing such horrors, but soon after, an idea occurred to him: to avenge the murder of his family. No longer afraid to put anyone in danger, she fled into the nearby forest and encountered the Molotova Brigade, a group made up mostly of escapees. Soviet prisoners of war. At 22, Schulman became one of tens of thousands of Jews who joined the resistance.
“We faced the hunger and the cold; we faced the constant threat of death and torture… Against all odds, we fought, ”Faye wrote of his time with the brigade in his autobiography, Memory of a supporter.
Putting on a leopard-skin coat to survive Poland’s bitter winters, Schulman spent two years helping the brigade deal with medical issues – in a small resistance group against the brutality of the Nazi invaders, there was a lot going on. to manage. From treating gunshot wounds to performing surgeries in the open with vodka as an anesthetic, she has played a crucial role in the camp.
Schulman also risked his life by participating in numerous raids. “When it was time to hug a boyfriend, I hug a gun,” Schulman told a PBS documentary in 1999. “Now, I thought to myself, my life has changed.”
After recovering her camera equipment during a raid, she spends her free time capturing images of people she encountered in the resistance, young and old, doing their part to sabotage the enemy. Over 75 years later, his images offer a unique perspective on an often overlooked part of history.
Throughout the war, Schulman proved to be a brave and kind figure. She cared for an eight-year-old Jewish girl after the wife of a local priest, who was caring for her, fled. For over a year, she ensured that the girl, who was called Raika, was taken care of. Raika was eventually taken to Moscow, and Schulman never saw or heard from her again.
As with many in the war, the loss became an all-encompassing shadow for Schulman who never seemed to leave. During what was to be his final raid on Lenin, Schulman visited his now nearly destroyed family home which had been taken over by local collaborators. Rather than let her beloved home be of use to the Nazis, she chose to burn it down. After dousing it with gasoline, she lit the match herself and watched it catch fire. “I feel heartbroken, devastated – something precious has been lost again… this city and this house, so close to my heart, is no more,” she later recalled.
After the territory was liberated in 1944, she married Morris Schulman, another supporter, and had two children with him. She kept her camera as a permanent reminder of what it stood for. “I would never want to separate [with it] as long as I live, ”she said, noting that the camera had“ seen it all ”.
Schulman is survived by two children, a brother, six grandchildren and three great grandchildren.
Faye Schulman, partisan photographer, born November 28, 1919, died April 24, 2021