Polish Jews

Roman VISHNIAC   |   Abraham Joshua HESCHEL

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VISHNIAC, Roman. Polish Jews. A Pictorial Record. New York: Schocken, (1947). Quarto, original black cloth, original photographic dust jacket.

First edition, presentation/association copy from the library of noted photography collector Howard Daitz, long associated with New York’s Lee Witkin Gallery, inscribed by Vishniac on the title page, “For Howard Daitz, Roman Vishniac,” with introduction by Abraham Joshua Heschel and 31 full-page photogravures of Eastern European Jews on the eve of World War II, scarce in bright unrestored dust jacket.

Born in Russia, Roman Vishniac was living in Germany when hired by a Jewish watchdog agency, the Joint Distribution Committee, in the early 1930s to travel through Eastern Europe, documenting "Jewish communities that would soon be destroyed by Hitler… Because any Jew—especially one with a camera—was suspect, he often posed as a Nazi during his photographic excursions." "These pictures," Vishniac wrote, "were made without letting the subjects know of the presence of a camera. They represent real life completely unposed. And so today they have become documents of a lost epoch of a lost people." Vishniac's work has been exhibited worldwide; in addition to his skill as a portraitist, he was "one of the world's foremost photomicrographers" (McDarrah, 511). This presentation/association copy is inscribed by Vishniac to respected photographic collector Howard Daitz, whose wife Evelyne Daitz was a director of the famed Lee Witkin Gallery during Witkin's lifetime, and became the gallery's owner and director on his death in 1984.

Book and plates fine, some chipping to spine head of extremely good dust jacket with bit of loss not affecting text. A near-fine presentation copy with a distinctive association.

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