Yad Vashem stages ambitious show of rare photos taken by Nazis and their victims

 

Przyslala Rimma Kaul


Ahead of International Holocaust Remembrance Day, Israel’s national Shoah museum focuses on the impact of thousands of now iconic images from ghettos, camps, and liberation

Near the end of Jerusalem-based exhibition “Flashes of Memory: Photography During the Holocaust,” is a glass case containing a loose pile of postcard-size photographs of scenes from the Dachau concentration camp. Some show inmates shoving dead bodies into crematoria. Others show torture scenes, with prisoners’ bodies hanging from nooses.

Near the end of Jerusalem-based exhibition “Flashes of Memory: Photography During the Holocaust,” is a glass case containing a loose pile of postcard-size photographs of scenes from the Dachau concentration camp. Some show inmates shoving dead bodies into crematoria. Others show torture scenes, with prisoners’ bodies hanging from nooses.

These images in Yad Vashem: The World Holocaust Remembrance Center’s new show are horrific, but they are not here merely to shock. Rather, they — like the other more than 1,500 others — are meant to provoke questions about who took them, where, when, how, and why.

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Director of Yad Vashem’s photography archive, Dr. Daniel Uziel at opening of ‘Flashes of Memory’ exhibition, January 24, 2018 (Renee Ghert-Zand/TOI)

hey also ended up in the hands of historical commissions set up by Jews in displaced persons camps throughout Europe, and in those of US soldiers who took them home with them. More than 70 years later, people are still discovering them in old shoeboxes and albums and regularly offering them to Holocaust museums. Most of the donors are ignorant of, or mistaken about, the true context of the photos’ creation.

Virtually none of the still and moving images made by the Nazis, Jews and liberating Allied forces displayed in “Flashes of Memory” are revealed here for the first time. They were previously published or shown elsewhere, with some, like “The Warsaw Ghetto Boy” photo having achieved iconic status. Most are from Yad Vashem’s collection of over half a million Holocaust-related photographs (originals and copies).

However, these images are exhibited here in a different light, and in a way that casts a more critical lens on Holocaust-era photography. The exhibition goes beyond the usual emotional response and takes a more cerebral and analytical approach.

Calosc TUTAJ

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