I Placed Photographs Of My Family Throughout Auschwitz, To Document The Life Of 4 Generations Since My Grandmother Survived The Camp
My grandmother, Miriam Sharir, was a survivor of the Auschwitz death camp. 1.1 million people were brutally murdered in this place of horror. Only 7500 survived by the time it was liberated on January 27th 1945.
Her unbelievable strength is what got her out of there. The fate of 9 other family members who were also deported to that camp was never to make it out alive.
I grew up by her side, always close by. During my teenage years, she gradually began to share with us some of her horrific experiences, as well as her incredibly heroic moments in the camp.
She never wanted me to go there. She didn’t think I had any reason to.
It has been a little over a decade now since she left us. Since then, I’ve been watching my nieces and nephews, 4th generation since the Holocaust, grow up and I found my reason.
Only two of them had the privilege to be around her in her lifetime, until they were 6 years old. I couldn’t help but wonder, how will they all remember what happened in the Holocaust? How will they pass it on?
They’ve never heard a thing from the woman who had been there; they never lived through the implications. I realized that I, as a 3rd generation, was the last link between those who experienced the horrors, and the future generation who only hear the stories.
Last year I went to the death camp, and documented the life of 4 generations since my grandmother’s survival. I gathered my family’s photos and scattered them in frames throughout the camp.
Scenes of a Jewish wedding, a Bar-Mitzvah or lighting of the candles in Hanukkah, were all that the Nazi’s sought to exterminate – and in that very place there would now be a proof to how they failed.
There was a storm that day. It was bitter cold, the winds were high and the rain was pouring with only moment’s break of a deceiving sun. The frames got wet and repeatedly kept falling, as did I. It was a physical and emotional struggle. But I kept thinking that nothing can even begin to compare to the struggle my grandmother went through in that place.
Although it’s very personal, I decided to put out this series of photos so that more people can learn the importance of never forgetting what happened just 73 years ago. January 27th also marks The International Holocaust Remembrance Day; on the date Auschwitz was liberated by the Red Army. I wish this day was commemorated by everyone, everywhere. We must all know that if we forget the past, the future can never be guaranteed.
Dedicated to my grandmother, her family members who were murdered in Auschwitz and the 6 million Jews exterminated during the Holocaust who did not live on to see their next generations.
More info: noamchen.com
Generations of survival: My grandmother (left) with the 2nd, 3rd and 4th generations
Three years since this project, and I feel absolutely the same about how important it was. The farther we get from WWII era, the more we see people trying to rewrite history and deny that the Holocaust ever occurred, while at the same time we lose more and more Holocaust survivors that still live among us. The younger generation needs constant reminders as to what happened during the darkest time in history.
The memory of the tragic events is even more valued and important today than before. Nowadays we see an alarming rise in antisemitism around the world once again, and when remembering the past, one can never underestimate the consequences that can follow.
Our Triumph: 2nd, 3rd and 4th generations to the Holocaust
My grandmother’s wedding after surviving Auschwitz
I have only good memories of my grandma. She was the most loving, caring person who would do everything for us. Unfortunately, she only began to speak about her experiences later in life, so I was fortunate enough to hear only a few stories. During most of her life she did not talk about it, and we did not want to ask so that she wouldn’t get emotional or sick. The pain she carried with her was beyond anything you and I can imagine.
My mother, 2nd generation, on her wedding day
My uncle, 2nd generation, on his wedding day
My grandmother with her son and daughter, the 2nd generation
My Bar-Mitzvah ceramony (3rd generation)
My sister, 3rd generation, on her wedding day
My cousin, 3rd generation, on her wedding day
My cousin’s family, 3rd and 4th generations, light the Menorah in Hanukkah
My grandmother with her great-grandson (4th generation)
My mother (2nd generation) and us (3rd generation)
My brother’s family, 3rd and 4th generations
My cousin’s family, 3rd and 4th generation
My cousin and her daughter, 3rd and 4th generation
My grandmother with her newborn 4th generation
My nieces and nephews, 4th generation
Today I work as a full-time photographer in Israel, and I try my best to advocate for my country and my people. Unfortunately, there’s a lot of hatred towards Israel, which in my eyes is just another form of antisemitism, so I’m doing what I can to educate people about our history and our reality which oftentimes is being distorted on social and mainstream media.
Like most people, my family and I have also been somewhat affected by the pandemic, whether it’s financially or knowing people who got sick or even lost their lives to the virus. We hope to see an end to this pandemic as soon as possible before more lives are lost.
My grandmother, in the only photo of her’s I ever took before she passed away
Most people react very positively to this project, stating that they get very emotional reading and seeing the pictures. Some shared their own family history, which is very heartwarming. I was afraid that more people would find it offensive towards the Jews who did not survive the Holocaust to see a family of their own, but was glad to realize that everyone understands it’s just as much in those people’s honor.
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