In anticipation of Holocaust Remembrance Day this weekend, Yad Vashem in Israel displays photos from ghettos, camps, and liberation. Writers at The Times of Israel tell us more:
These images in Yad Vashem: The World Holocaust Remembrance Center’s new show are horrific, but they are not here merely to shock. Rather, they — like the other more than 1,500 others — are meant to provoke questions about who took them, where, when, how, and why.
The Dachau photos are authentic, but not in the usual sense of the word. They were taken by US Signal Corps troops who liberated the camp in April 1945, and the scenes depicted in them are reenactments staged with the help of former inmates. The images were captured, printed and disseminated widely throughout Allied-occupied Germany for the purpose of reeducating the German population.
They also ended up in the hands of historical commissions set up by Jews in displaced persons camps throughout Europe, and in those of US soldiers who took them home with them. More than 70 years later, people are still discovering them in old shoeboxes and albums and regularly offering them to Holocaust museums. Most of the donors are ignorant of, or mistaken about, the true context of the photos’ creation.