Portraits of Holocaust Survivors and Their Families

Photography News

Generations: Portraits of Holocaust Survivors

The Royal Photographic Society (RPS) has coordinated with a number of modern photographers to create an exhibition that shows over 50 portraits of Holocaust survivors and their families today.

Slated to open starting January 27, the date chosen as International Holocaust Remembrance Day, and available to view until March 22, 2022, the Generations: Portraits of Holocaust Survivors exhibition showcases new photos from a group of contemporary photographers with the goal of showcasing the special connections between the survivors and the younger generations of their families.

“The systematic persecution of Europe’s Jews by the Nazis between 1933 and 1945 led to the mass extermination of 6 million lives. For those who survived, its memory and impact were life-changing,” RPS writes.

“Through a series of individual and family portraits, the moving photographs in this exhibition present a group of survivors who made the UK their home after beginnings marked by unimaginable loss and trauma. While offering a space to remember and share their stories, these portraits are a celebration of the rich lives they have lived and the special legacy that their children and grandchildren will carry into the future.”

Generations: Portraits of Holocaust Survivors
Saul Erner, aged 86, with his granddaughters Evie and Sophia. Saul has a clear memory of
escaping to England from Belgium as a five-year-old. | Photo by Sian Bonnell HonFRPS

RPS says that most of the photographs in the exhibition were captured in the Spring of 2021 and were taken by a long list of photographers including Frederic Aranda, Jillian Edelstein, Sian Bonnell, Arthur Edwards, Anna Fox, Joy Gregory, Jane Hilton, Tom Hunter, Karen Knorr, Carolyn Mendelsohn, Simon Roberts, and Michelle Sank. Additionally, it includes photographs by Her Royal Highness, the Duchess of Cambridge, the RPS patron.

Generations: Portraits of Holocaust Survivors
Iby Knill was deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau in 1944 and liberated while on a death march in 1945. She did not speak of her experience for 50 years, not even to her children. | Photo by Sian Bonnell HonFRPS
Generations: Portraits of Holocaust Survivors
Eve Kugler, age 90, with her granddaughters Eliana, Kadya and Eve. Eve escaped with her mother to Leipzig, then to Paris, central France and finally New York. | Photo by Jane Hilton HonFRPS

The photos on display feature a range of individuals. One portrait, for example, shows Freddie Knoller who was photographed on his 100th birthday with his wife Frieda, daughters Susie and Marcia and grandson Nadav.

Generations: Portraits of Holocaust Survivors
Freddie Knoller BEM photographed on his 100th birthday with his wife Freida, daughters Susie and Marcia, and grandson Nadav. | Photo by Frederic Aranda

RPS explains that he was born on April 17 1921, was forced to leave his home in Vienna, Austria, and lived as a Jewish refugee in Belgium and France. In 1943, he joined the French Resistance and following his arrest, survived imprisonment in camps at Auschwitz, Dora-Nordhausen, and Bergen-Belsen. During a death march from Auschwitz, Freddie took the uniform badge of a dead French political prisoner to conceal his Jewish identity, replacing his own “yellow star” badge with that of a “red triangle” badge. Identifying as a political — rather than Jewish — prisoner helped him survive at Dora-Nordhausen. He moved to London in the 1950s and started a family, through whom his story will live on.

Generations: Portraits of Holocaust Survivors
Susan Pollack MBE photographed with her granddaughter Emily. After the war, Susan lived in Sweden and Canada, where she met and married a fellow survivor. | Photo by Frederic Aranda

Other portraits show survivors with important mementos, such as passports and in one case, a teddy bear.

Generations: Portraits of Holocaust Survivors
Ruth Sands was smuggled to France as a baby, before eventually being reunited with her parents. She has two sons, two daughters-in-law and five grandchildren. | Photo by Jillian Edelstein HonFRPS
Generations: Portraits of Holocaust Survivors
John Hajdu with his teddy bear, ‘Teddy’, who came from Hungary journeying with him as a refugee to the UK. | Photo by Jillian Edelstein HonFRPS

Two portraits of survivors Steven Frank and Yvonne Bernstein were taken by The Duchess of Cambridge, Catherine Middleton.

Generations: Portraits of Holocaust Survivors
Steven Frank, aged 84, with his granddaughters Maggie and Trixie. Steven survived multiple
concentration camps as a child. | Photo by The Duchess of Cambridge

“This exhibition honors those who escaped the Holocaust and celebrates the full lives that they have led in the UK since their arrival. Each portrait shows the special connection between the survivor and subsequent generations of their family, and it emphasizes their important legacy,” the Royal Photographic Society’s Project Curator Tracy Marshall-Grant says.

Generations: Portraits of Holocaust Survivors
Inge Hyman with her three children James, Peter and Philippa. She escaped with her brother and parents in 1938. | Photo by Anna Fox HonFRPS

“The portraits, by leading contemporary British photographers, seek to simultaneously inspire audiences to consider their own responsibility to remember and to share the stories of those who endured persecution. It creates a legacy that will allow those descendants to connect directly back and inspire future generations.”

Generations: Portraits of Holocaust Survivors opens on January 27 at the RPS Gallery in Bristol.


Image credits: Header photo caption: Ben Helfgott MBE with his grandson Sam. After the war, Ben became a champion weightlifter. Photo by Frederic Aranda. All other photos are individually credited, provided courtesy of the Royal Photographic Society.

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