Israel Baruch [Boris] Kowadlo was born on 2 December 1911 in Plock [Plotzk], Poland to David and Ruda Kowadlo. The son of a rabbi, Kowadlo grew up in a religious family. In 1933, faced with growing anti-Semitism in Poland, he emigrated to the Netherlands. He was known for his extensive photo reports of the Polish-Jewish community. During the German occupation of the Netherlands, he was active in the resistance under the name Bernard van der Linden and became involved with the photographers group “De Ondergedoken Camera” [the hiding camera] which documented the war years in the Netherlands clandestinely.
Kowadlo married Margaretha Raasveld in 1945 and the couple settled in Amsterdam, where they opened a portrait photography studio on Ruysdaelstraat. Kowadlo also took photos at lectures, in schools and workshops and other events. It was during this period, in 1947-1948, that he documented ORT activities in Amsterdam and at the children’s village in Apeldoorn [see images]. He also visited his brother in the newly established State of Israel, where he travelled widely, documenting the nation’s early years. This work, entitled Dit is Israël [This is Israel], was published in book form in 1958.
Kowadlo died on 24 May 1959, aged 47, in a sailing accident near Porto, Portugal, when he fell overboard while on assignment with a journalist.
A large part of his photo archive has been lost and only prints of his work from the war years have survived. These are held in the Nederlands Fotomuseum in Rotterdam. Some of his work from the 1950s has ended up in the NIW [Nieuw Israëlietisch Weekblad Foundation] archive in Amsterdam. His ORT work is held at the World ORT Archive and can be viewed in the Netherlands gallery.