Flashes of Memory

January 26, 2018 by J-Wire Newsdesk
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Yad Vashem, the World Holocaust Remembrance Centre in Jerusalem, has inaugurated a brand new exhibition entitled “Flashes of Memory –  Photography during the Holocaust.”

The exhibition, housed in the Temporary Exhibitions Pavilion of Yad Vashem’s Museum Complex, presents a critical account of visual documentation – photographs and films – created during the Holocaust by German and Jewish photographers, as well as by members of the Allied forces during liberation. The exhibition focuses a spotlight on the circumstances of the photograph and the worldview of the documenting photographer – both official and private – while emphasizing the different and unique viewpoint of the Jewish photographers as direct victims of the Holocaust.



Displayed throughout this exhibition are some 1,500 photographs and 13 films created during the Holocaust, as well as original newspaper clippings, albums, diaries, and a number of original cameras from the period. Also included in the collection are three-dimensional and color photographs taken by professional photographers of the Nazi regime.

Visual documentation is one of the major factors in shaping historical awareness of the Holocaust. Alongside archival documentation of the period’s events, visual documentation – photographs and films – has contributed significantly towards knowledge of the Holocaust, influenced the manner in which it has been analyzed and understood, and affected the way it has been engraved in the collective memory.

Different parties photographed during the Holocaust. For the Nazi German regime, photography and filmmaking played a crucial role in manipulating and mobilizing the masses. This kind of propaganda documentation attests to Nazi ideology and how German leaders sought to mold their image in the public eye. Conversely, Jewish photography was a component in the struggle for survival of the Jews imprisoned in the ghettos, and a manifestation of underground activity that testified to their desire to document and transmit information on the tragedy befalling their people. The Allied armies, who understood the publicity value of photographing the camps they liberated, documented the scenes revealed to them, bringing in official photographers and encouraging soldiers to commemorate the Nazi horrors as evidence for future war crimes trials and in an effort to re-educate the German population in the spirit of democratic values.

“The camera and its manipulative power have tremendous power and far-reaching influence,” remarked Vivian Uria, Exhibition Curator and Director of Yad Vashem’s Museums Division. “Although photography pretends to reflect reality as it is, it is in fact an interpretation of it, for elements such as worldview, values ​​and moral perception influence the choice of the photographed object and the manner in which it is presented. The exhibition draws attention to these critical elements which are not only a form of visual documentation but also pieces of historical evidence.”

Dr. Daniel Uziel, Head of the Photo Collection Section in the Yad Vashem’s Archives, is the Historical Advisor for this exhibition.

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