Photo Corners

A   S C R A P B O O K   O F   S O L U T I O N S   F O R   T H E   P H O T O G R A P H E R

Enhancing the enjoyment of taking pictures with news that matters, features that entertain and images that delight. Published frequently.

Remembering Faye Schulman Share This on LinkedIn   Tweet This   Forward This

8 May 2021

Faye Schulman, the only know Jewish partisan of the second World War, died last month at the age of 101.

Born into a large family of two brothers and four sisters in Lenin, Poland, in 1919, Schulman learned about photography from her brother Moishe who she assisted in his studio.

One of her sisters had the care for three children, one of whom was sickly, so Schulman was saddled with the family household chores. Shed credited that with making her physically strong and self-reliant.

At the age of 16 she took over Moishe's photography business when he had to leave town.

Her parents, sisters and younger brother were among the 1,850 Lenin ghetto Jews murdered by the Nazis in August 1942. Only 26 were spared, incluing Schulman who was prized for her darkroom knowledge. When they ordered her to develop their film of the Lenin ghetto massacre she made copies for herself to document the atrocity.

'Jews did not go like sheep to the slaughter. I was a photographer. I have pictures.'

She subsequently escaped to the forest to join the Molotava Brigade of escaped Soviet Red Army POWs who were desperate for medical help. Her brother-in-law had been a doctor and that was close enough. Until July 1944, she served the group as a nurse under a doctor who had been a veterinarian.

"When it was time to be hugging a boyfriend, I was hugging a rifle," she said. Now, I said to myself, my life is changed. I learned how to look after the wounded. I even learned how to make operations."

She recovered her old photo equipment during a raid on Lenin and spent two years taking over 100 medium-format photographs, developing them under blankets and making prints using the sun for a light source. She buried the equipment when she was away on missions to prevent its discovery.

"I want people to know that there was resistance," she said. "Jews did not go like sheep to the slaughter. I was a photographer. I have pictures. I have proof."

After the war, she married Morris Schulman, also a Jewish partisan. The moved from Pinsk in Poland to the Landsberg Displaced Persons Camps in Germany before immigrating to Canada in 1948.

She told her story in her 1995 autobiography A Partisan's Memoir.

"We were poor, and it was hard to find work because we did not speak English. But we were young and healthy and determined," she wrote. The couple worked in a Toronto clothing factory before opening their own hardware store.

They had two children and six grandchildren. "I am now an old woman," she wrote. "I love my two children and my six grandchildren dearly. But my past life as a partisan, the Holocaust, the torture of our people: These I will never forget."

In her last years, she still kept at her side the vintage folding Zeiss Ikon and its cable shutter release that had been her salvation.

BackBack to Photo Corners