Beyond the Shadows Images of Holocaust without People

A gas chamber at Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland.Credit Judy Glickman Lauder/Courtesy of Aperture

Why words and photos matter. Interesting timing, on the eve of Hanukkah, first battle over religious freedom.

Judy Glickman Lauder’s revealing images in Beyond the Shadows: The Holocaust and the Danish Exception,” from Aperture, might make a person stop and think. Ya think? 

I also LOVE infrared film. The only roll I ever shot was stolen by the performer I photographed. Makes for unusually haunting photos.

“Hatred, injustice, and genocide did not end with World War II, and evil is present with us today in too many parts of the word” Ms. Glickman Lauder wrote. “‘The other’ continues to be vilified. We must challenge ourselves to step out of the comfortable role of bystander, and to stand in the way of all forms of hate. We need the moral courage to act against all injustice.”

PHOTOS are vital to history. To storytelling. To the human experience. Yet so many mindlessly quickly take forgettable and disposable snapshots. Or don’t know what to photograph. It’s right under our noses.

I’ve never seen images which show the cold, harsh, large reality of the “Concentration Camps.” I always thought of them as “Extermination Camps.” I was a child born in the first generation after the discovery and liberation of those death places. I grew up on still images and newsreel footage (movies) when Allied forces first entered the camps. 

I’ve seen many Holocaust related photos since then. But never anything to suggest the size. Plus what these looked like empty. The photo of one of the many gas chambers really made me stop.,

LOOK the SIZE the gas chamber. HUGE. How many men, women and children could you cram in there and gas to death at once? A LOT. 

Germans are such an efficient people. 

Her book focused on the Danes, who courageously saved not only thousands of Jews, but sacred objects in Jewish Temples. 

Today, many in America and Europe don’t believe the Holocaust happened. They believe Jews are using it to get ahead. As if. Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it. Making those who speak truth to power suffer as well.

I know how Cassandra felt. Heartbreaking that so many deny this could happen again. Has happened, but not on that scale. Not yet. 

The photographer, Judy Glickman Lauder, has led quite the life! In 2015, at age 76, she married billionaire Leonard Lauder, 81, of the cosmetics firm. She’s very active in the photography and art world, behind the scenes. Wow. Whatta life!

My only time visiting New York included an afternoon at Neue Gallerie, the AMAZING gallery from Ronald Lauder. Prominently showcased was Klimt’s Woman in Gold. Did you see the movie with Helen Mirren and Ryan Reynolds? IF not, well worth seeing. Fits into this story too. Sadly. 

The battle to restore art illegally and often brutally stolen from Jews during World War 2. Ronald Lauder played a major role getting the work returned to its rightful owner. I saw the painting easily in NYC. It was mobbed when first displayed at LACMA.

As I read this, and now thinking about the article, I cried. I could not photograph the death camps. I couldn’t stop crying long enough to focus. 

Ok, so what do you think? How do you feel? What stories come to mind? 

(The Holocaust’s Paradox of Good and Evil, in Photographs. You can read a few free articles from the New York Times each month. Some libraries offer free daily access.)

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