In honor of International Holocaust Remembrance Day, Britain’s Duchess of Cambridge unveiled a photo collection of four Holocaust survivors and their families.
Known as Kate Middleton before her marriage to Prince William, the amateur photographer is Royal Photographic Society Patron and worked in partnership with Britain’s Jewish News and the Royal Photographic Society (RPS) in what will be part of a new exhibition opening later this year commemorating 75 years since the end of the Holocaust.
In addition to the duchess, RPS Honorary Fellow Jillian Edelstein and RPS member Frederic Aranda also worked on the collection, which will include 75 photos in total. Other images featured in the exhibition will be taken by fellows of the RPS.
Photographed by Aranda, Joan Salter, 79, fled the Nazis as a young child. She is photographed with her husband, Martin, and her daughter Shelley. John Hajdu, 82, photographed by Edelstein, survived the Budapest Ghetto and was photographed with his 4-year-old grandson Zac.
The duchess photographed Steven Frank, 84, and Yvonne Bernstein. Originally from Amsterdam, Frank survived multiple concentration camps as a child and was pictured alongside his granddaughters Maggie and Trixie Fleet, ages 15 and 13, respectively. Bernstein, originally from Germany, was a hidden child in France throughout most of the Holocaust. She is pictured with her 11-year-old granddaughter Chloe Wright.
“The harrowing atrocities of the Holocaust, which were caused by the most unthinkable evil, will forever lay heavy in our hearts. Yet it is so often through the most unimaginable adversity that the most remarkable people flourish,” the duchess said.
“Despite unbelievable trauma at the start of their lives, Yvonne Bernstein and Steven Frank are two of the most life-affirming people that I have had the privilege to meet. They look back on their experiences with sadness but also with gratitude that they were some of the lucky few to make it through. Their stories will stay with me forever. Whilst I have been lucky enough to meet two of the now very few survivors, I recognize not everyone in the future will be able to hear these stories firsthand. It is vital that their memories are preserved and passed on to future generations, so that what they went through will never be forgotten.”
Speaking about the project, Frank said in a statement that although he hopes people enjoy the beauty of the photography, “they will also think of the people behind the photos and their families that they lost in the Holocaust.”
“I think it helped put into perspective that he’s just our Opa — he’s our grandpa as well as a Holocaust survivor,” Frank’s granddaughter Maggie said. “It’s important to tell the story so it doesn’t happen again.”
Alan Hodgson, president of the Royal Photographic Society, also commented on the importance of educating future generations on the Holocaust.
“These portraits provide a direct connection to those who were witnesses to the horrors perpetrated by the Nazi regime and, crucially, bring in their children and grandchildren who will be so important in ensuring that their stories and experiences remain relevant and real to contemporary society, Hodgson said.
Jewish News Editor and Co-Publisher Justin Cohen, said, “Each of these striking photographs remind us of the strength of so many survivors in building new lives and families after coming face to face with evil, but also of the millions who were murdered and the many more millions of children and grandchildren who were never even born.”
He added: “With fewer and fewer survivors with us to relay their experiences, the work of the duchess and the other photographers will help ensure the truth is never forgotten, and its lessons for fighting hate today are brought to the fore.”