Twins Iudit Barnea and Lia Huber look at photos of the Soviet liberation of Auschwitz, at which they were present
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24 January 2018
Yad Vashem inaugurated today 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. Present at the opening were Holocaust survivors connected to some of the exhibits, including twins Iudit Barnea and Lia Huber (nées Tchengar), who were born in Transylvania in 1937 and suffered at the hands of the notorious Josef Mengele at the Auschwitz death camp.
The opening ceremony was held in the Yad Vashem Synagogue, a few meters from the Temporary Exhibitions Pavilion, where the exhibition is displayed. "This outstanding and special exhibition invites us to see things from a different angle and an altered viewpoint," said Yad Vashem Chairman Avner Shalev. He pointed out the widespread taking, sharing and manipulation of photographs by today's younger generation, and invited them to view the photographs from the wartime period in light of this phenomenon. Dr. Daniel Uziel, Director of Yad Vashem's Photo Archive and Historical Advisor of the exhibition, concurred: "The exhibition is directed, first and foremost, at the intellect, and not at the heart," he said. "It demands from the viewer what is demanded from historians – to understand the context." "The act of photography is the beginning of the process, never the end," summarized Vivian Uria, the exhibition's curator and Director of the Museums Division Despite the display of German propaganda photos and films, Uria stressed. "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… We endeavored to emphasize Jewish photograph, which expresses compassion and empathy, and identifies with the victims of the Holocaust."