(WORK IN PROGRESS)
The photographs represented here are only fragments of the originals. They present a family that no longer exists. The Milsztajn family lived in Lodz, Poland and was headed by Emanuel and Rywka Laja. In 1926, one of their sons, Morris (Moszek) left Poland and immigrated to Toronto, Canada. His family kept in touch through photographs and photographic postcards. However, the correspondences stopped during World War II and Morris never saw his family again. Except for one sister who immigrated to Canada a year after him, and a cousin, who found his way to Israel after surviving the concentration camps, the rest of the family was killed by the Nazis.
Morris Milstone (Milsztajn) attempted to patch his lost family together by creating a photographic montage, using the images that he had collected over the years. These images are testament to one family’s history. The absence of information is indicative of the brutal experiences that they, as well as many others, endured during the war.
One of Morris’ montages was recently rediscovered in 2013. However, it was in rather poor condition and in an attempt to gain more information about the family, a relative tried to further separate the images. From the numerous photographs that made up the original 24” x 30” montage, eighteen were selected for this publication. In Jewish tradition, the number 18 is commonly used as a symbol for life.
While some of the photographs only have remnants of the tape from their assemblage in the montage, others reveal detailed script in either Polish or Yiddish on the versos. On the backs of one of the postcards, "na wieczną pamiątkę" is written. This segment in Polish was a fragment of an expression declaring that the photograph was intended to be for an eternal souvenir/everlasting memory. As a momento, these photographs painstakingly highlight the fact that they are only fragments of what they once were. They were cut out and reassembled as an attempt to create a new history with a reconnected family. They are no longer whole.