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גיבורי מלחמת העולם השנייה

 Heroes Of World War 2

צילום: חיים מצ'י ורסנו


How can the personal testimonies of Holocaust survivors be told and preserved and made accessible to future generations through art?


How can art reach out to the human consciousness, even at times when Holocaust denial still exists?


After the Holocaust, some survivors began telling their stories and difficult experiences they had  during the war. These survivors had a need to testify about what happened to them, to their families and friends, and to almost an entire generation of Jews in Europe. 


Beyond the basic need to testify, the desire to tell the stories of the Holocaust comes from a need to educate, to teach future generations about hatred and indifference and intolerance towards the other and what it can lead to.


Sadly, the generation that experienced the Holocaust first hand is dying away, a day will come when we will have to change our educational approach to the Holocaust and this day is approaching fast.


The idea of ​​creating a photography project about Holocaust survivors was initiated during my volunteer work as a project manager for the “Ledorot” project. I noticed that something exciting and interesting was happening in the meetings between the young students and the senior Holocaust survivors. Something that brought new insight and understanding to a younger generation. Although, many years and life experience separated the two groups, a magical connection was felt during these meetings. Some of that magic can be found in the photos in this book. These images are not just the framing of peoples in a given situation and composition, they are real moments of connection. Moments frozen in time by the camera. 


The combination of the words of the storyteller and the images of the photographer, make it possible for the stories of Holocaust survivors to spread from the confines of a small inner circle, to the world outside, and into the hearts of readers who will learn and draw inspiration from them.


This platform cherishes the culture and roots from which each one of us grows and the assimilated values which build us as human beings: the familiar food and landscape, alongside our history and scars, our fears and hopes. In these shared moments, despite all the obvious differences between us, something universal is to be found and the understanding of it, creates real but magical encounters in which we all can share what we have in common.


In this spirit, the photographers and the documenters got to work. Their work reflects a dialogue around identity that evolved through the encounter between them and the survivors.

Each individual involved coming from a particular world of content and personal experiences and all these found a place in the resulting images.


In "Voices from the Dark" Adina Sumrokova photographed and recorded the stories of veterans in an old age home in Jerusalem, her city of residence. Then Sveta Domanov, a writer and poetess, listened to the recordings and produced the written testimonies. Adina and Sveta created a visual and textual portrait of this group of veterans, connecting the stories they were told to their own personal stories of immigration to Israel.


Nissim Salem and Sandrine Cohen, in the last link, a project they established together, met Holocaust survivors, listened to their stories and created a unique photographic portrait. The connection between “The Last link” and “The Autographers” took place as Salem and Cohen were in search of additional testimonies for the project, in order to reach the 100 Holocaust survivor story goal. Nissim told me of his approach: "I always ask them abedout faith and they always leave something with me”.


Mark Wilson, a London based photographer, initiated a similar project in April 2015. The project led him to photograph his mother, a Holocaust survivor, in January 2017. 

Wilson travels to photograph the landscapes and places that Holocaust survivors tell of in their wartime testimonies. In his photos he shows the connection between the landscape and the survivor, between past and present. A meeting with Mark Wilson last January enabled me to understand that there are no geographical distances that art cannot bridge.



Stephanie Pfeiffer who is based in New York is, like me, a third generation decendant of Holocaust survivors. 


Pfeiffer created a photography project dealing with refugees living in Paris, her hometown. These days, the need for solidarity among communities is clear, perhaps clearer than ever before. Stephanie writes: “When my great grandmother passed away, I realised there was no trace left of her stories. This realisation inspired the project “Paris remains a feast”. When I walked past refugee camps in Paris I wondered; Do their families know they are here? Who tells their personal stories? The drama is different, but the refugee crisis also leaves behind families who might find those pictures one day and read their stories”. 


The great problem of humanity is not so much the murderers, but the people. Those who witness the horrors committed against them and who sit on the sidelines observing but not interfering, perhaps because of fear, perhaps by indifference, they do not lift a finger or protest. It is our duty as human beings, as artists, as leaders and as public opinion makers, to break the silence.


The words of Elie Wiesel, writer and Holocaust survivor: 


”He who hates one group, hates all groups, hates all minorities. Any project that has the slightest resemblance to Hitler's project of extermination, must get us as human beings to do everything in our power to stop it”.


Many other photographers joined the project. Each one brought new materials which motivated the project and enriched it. 


Among our Autographers, Hila Kadi, who photographed Holocaust survivor Haim Kaufman, together with his granddaughter Keren who was pregnant at the time, and his great-grandson. 


Kaufman died in February 2018 and did not get to see the exhibition. However, after Grandfather's death, during the mourning period, Keren told us that the photo had turned out to be a special gift for her and for future generations.


life In my view, this picture symbolizes the essence of our project: The circle of life creating an intergenerational link between past present and future, between memory and continuity.


It was decided to dedicate the exhibition in memory of Haim Kaufman.


Many thanks to all the people who took part and all those who will continue to participate in the future.


Sincerely yours,


Keren-Or  Rosenbaum

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