Museums

4th July 1997 at 01:00
During the Second World War, Polish Jews confined to the Lodz ghetto had to cross bridges to get to the factories where they earned their meagre wages. They were not allowed to walk the same streets as more "racially pure" groups.

Huge photos of those bridges dominate an exhibition on the Lodz ghetto at the Manchester Jewish Museum which runs until August 3. Radishes for Ilsa: a Story of the Lodz Ghetto takes as its centrepiece the story of one woman, Ilsa Stern. On her birthday in April 1942, her brother Franz wrote to a local farmer asking for some radishes. Fresh vegetables were rare in the ghetto. She never received them.

That note and other reminders of ghetto life, such as the tin box in which Ilsa kept her belongings, Stars of David which had to be sewn on Jews' clothes, special ghetto money (Jews were not allowed real money) and notepaper from the administration of the ghetto, make a moving and vivid picture of ghetto life in which Jews were treated as factory-farmed animals to service the industrial base of the German war machine.

One item, a belt, illustrates the reality for one man of Nazi oppression. As its owner, Mendel Biel, struggled to survive first the ghetto, then Auschwitz, then the displaced persons' camp, the belt was taken in notch by notch. Mendel, miraculously, survived and by the time he came to England he weighed four and a half stone.

Worksheets are available for school visits. Tel: 0161-834-9789. Admission Pounds 2.50 adults, Pounds 1.25 children, special tariff for schools and groups.

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