A photography exhibition at IWM North will display new, never-before-seen photographs of northwest-based Holocaust survivors when it opens on Holocaust Memorial Day 2023.
Following its inaugural run at IWM London in 2021, Generations: Portraits of Holocaust Survivors will open at IWM North with four new photographs taken by The Royal Photographic Society (RPS) President and Chair of Trustees, Simon Hill, alongside the exhibition’s original 60 contemporary portraits of Holocaust survivors and their families.
Generations: Portraits of Holocaust Survivors (27 January 2023 – Summer 2023) showcases works from 13 contemporary photographers, all members and Fellows of RPS, alongside photography by RPS Patron, Her Royal Highness The Princess of Wales. These powerful photographs capture the special connections between Holocaust survivors and the younger generations of their families, shining a light on the full lives they have lived and our collective responsibility to ensure their stories live on.
The persecution of Europe’s Jews by the Nazis and their collaborators between 1933 and 1945 led to the mass extermination of 6 million lives. For those who survived, its memory and impact were life changing. 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 which their children and grandchildren will carry into the future.
One survivor who has been newly photographed by Simon Hill is Itzick ‘Ike’ Alterman (born 1928 in Ozarow, Poland), a survivor of four concentration camps – Blizyn, Auschwitz-Birkenau, Buchenwald and Theresienstadt – as well as a death march. His father died in the Buna work camp; his mother, his 14-year-old sister and his nine-year-old brother were transported to the Treblinka death camp in October 1942 and murdered upon arrival by the Nazis. After the war, Ike came to England as one of ‘The Windermere Children’ and began to slowly rebuild his life. Finding stability and happiness with his wife and children – his ‘new family’ as he calls them – Ike oversaw the creation of a thriving jewellery business in Manchester, eventually carving out a life for himself which defied his oppressors.
Other photographs in Generations: Portraits of Holocaust Survivors were captured in Spring 2021, presenting a body of work from contemporary photographers including Frederic Aranda, Sian Bonnell, Jillian Edelstein, Arthur Edwards, Anna Fox, Joy Gregory, Jane Hilton, Tom Hunter, Karen Knorr, Carolyn Mendelsohn, Simon Roberts and Michelle Sank. These include portraits taken by Edelstein which capture survivors alongside childhood mementoes – passports and teddy bears – or sat in the homes where they have created new lives and memories. Joining these are The Princess of Wales’s intimate portraits of survivors Steven Frank BEM and Yvonne Bernstein, commissioned specially for the exhibition.
Presented in partnership with the RPS, Jewish News, the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust, Dangoor Education, and Northern Partner The Fed, Generations: Portraits of Holocaust Survivors will remind visitors of our collective responsibility to remember and share stories about those who endured conflict and persecution.
Simon Hill, the Royal Photographic Society’s President says:
Portrait photography can be one of the most difficult or one of the easiest genres in which to work. So much depends on the relationship that is formed, often in an instant, between the subject and photographer. It has been an immense privilege to meet each of these camp survivors and refugees and to explore with them their unique stories.
All portrait photographs invite a three-way dialogue – between the subject, the photographer and the viewer. I hope that my portraits of these amazing people, pictured with members of their family, will help to encourage a dialogue, with a wider audience, that will ensure their personal stories are never forgotten and subsequent generations can celebrate their incredible perseverance in the face of unimaginable horror and suffering.
Simon Hill, Royal Photographic Society’s President
James Bulgin, the Content Leader of IWM’s Holocaust Galleries, says:
These remarkable images of survivors and the generations that have followed them are a powerful and important reminder that despite the catastrophic destruction of the Holocaust, Hitler’s intention to destroy all Jewish life and culture across Europe was ultimately unsuccessful. In showing the dynamism and diversity of those that endured and flourished, we are given cause to reflect on the profound significance of what has continued and the tragic extent of what was lost.
James Bulgin, Content Leader of IWM’s Holocaust Galleries
Generations: Portraits of Holocaust Survivors is a free exhibition opening at IWM North on 27 January 2023 and running until summer 2023.
- Photo by Dariusz Sankowski: Instant images