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Works


Presentations, Film Screenings, Book Talks | The Video | The Book

PHOTO EXHIBITION

There are two versions of the photo exhibition, a larger one best suited for museums and art galleries, and a smaller one best suited for schools and community centers. Contact Ann Weiss directly for details about dates and arrangements.

Smithsonian Institution’s former head of Traveling Exhibition, Washington, D.C. wrote the following description when he viewed exhibition at the Erie Art Museum.


THE LAST ALBUM:
EYES FROM THE ASHES OF AUSCHWITZ-BIRKENAU – THE TRAVELING EXHIBITION

Stripped of their context, the images are hauntingly familiar: a high school class on an outing, a family vacationing at a resort, young children playing in a sandbox, sweethearts affirming their love. The photographs remind us of life not only as it was, but also as it still remains today. They are, in short, the most ordinary of images. And yet, because in this instance context is absolutely crucial to our understanding of them, they are also the most extraordinary of photographs. In the early 1940s, Jews who were condemned to death carried millions of photographs to Auschwitz-Birkenau and other concentration camps. The photos they brought with them signified their lives—the people, the places and the moments they cherished most deeply. These were the photographs they could not leave behind.

Yet of the millions of photos brought to the death camps, only one cache, numbering some 2,400 images, survived. In 1986, a photojournalist and educator, Ann Weiss, accidentally came across these photographs while on a tour of Auschwitz-Birkenau. Inspired by this discovery, Weiss embarked on a tireless quest to bring these remarkable images to life, by searching worldwide for the people, the names to preserve and the stories to share that would provide the context necessary for fully understanding and appreciating their significance. Her critically acclaimed book, The Last Album: Eyes from the Ashes of Auschwitz-Birkenau, published in 2001 by W.W. Norton & Company, presented some 400 of these photographs and the identities and stories she uncovered through her searching.

Now an equally compelling traveling exhibition, adapted from the book and curated by its author, is available for display. The exhibition is offered in two formats: a larger version of 140 photographs, and a smaller one of 72 images. Both versions are configured for installation in a variety of museums, galleries and other suitable display spaces. Featuring framed and matted photographs painstakingly and faithfully reproduced from the originals still housed at Auschwitz-Birkenau, the exhibition also includes explanatory captions, first-person survivor accounts, commentaries from noted Holocaust experts, and Ann Weiss’s own account of how she found, and has labored to bring to life, the trove of forgotten images. Historical maps and a video montage of images, produced by Weiss with her audio commentary, help provide further context for viewers’ understanding and appreciation of the photographs.

Currently in the midst of projected multi-year national tour, the exhibition adaptation of The Last Album has moved and awed countless numbers of viewers throughout the United States. The tour itineraries for both versions are filling up quickly, but some choice slots still remain available for booking. Now is the time to reserve a space before the itineraries are fully booked. To book the exhibition or to request more information, please contact Eyes from the Ashes Foundation.

“Look at these photos and see the eyes that peer back at you, photos that exhort memory, photos that recall a world that exists no more,” urges Ann Weiss. “Zachor–remember,” so that in remembering, viewers will help these photos to live once more. Those who see these astonishing images first-hand will join those who not only remember, but also in those who will never forget!

To book the exhibition, arrange interviews, film screening, book talks or to request more information or ways to get involved, please contact Ann Weiss directly at 610-527-3131 (best), annweiss@thelastalbum.org The Last Album is a 501(c)3 non-profit foundation.

Photo Exhibition | The Video | The Book

PRESENTATIONS

FILM SCREENINGS

BOOK TALKS

Audiences are deeply moved when they hear Ann’s presentations, filled with stories of these remarkable photos and the people who once owned them. These are the very images that Jews brought to Auschwitz-Birkenau, when they thought they were going to be worked, not murdered.

A sampling of comments:


What’s important about this excellent book and exhibition is that Ann Weiss shows us the real photos of the real people and you can see how beautiful the people were, and how beautiful life once was. I am among the youngest of those who survived, and I believe that, not the abstract idea, but the concrete reality must be preserved. In these precious photos, Ann Weiss shows how much we all have in common, as she displays the full gamut of pre-war society–men, women, children, religious, not-religious, urban, rural. It is an important book and exhibition; it is a beautiful book and exhibition. Cherish it–It represents our lives.

Yaffa Eliach, Founder of the Shtetl Project
Author of Hasidic Tales of the Holocaust, and There Once was a Time, and Creator of the Tower of Eisheshek, at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum


This album shows all our lives at a time when we were living, not when we were dying. “In these smiling faces, I see all our families, all our youth groups, our sports clubs and synagogues, the smiling faces when we were together. These pictures mirror every town and every city where the Jewish people were living and thriving before the war. The tragedy is that these fragments emerged only after most of the people were already dead in the crematorium. The triumph is that these photos emerged at all” Thanks to Ann Weiss, the historical value is that you can now see the Jewish people in their bloom, not only in their suffering, and for this, other survivors and I will be eternally grateful.

Henry Skorr, Holocaust survivor from Kalisz, Poland


Six million deaths is a statistic, a datum, but the photograph of a child, that is a knowable tragedy! A group of friends – that is a horror! They killed, one by one. These photographs show me people, one by one. “How was it possible?” I always ask. Now I see faces and eyes as I ask.

Martin Rosenzweig, Math Professor, Rhode Island


I was in a room of a thousand people, and I was sitting in the last row. Nevertheless, I felt like she was talking just to me – that’s how powerfully and personally she spoke.

Buffalo, New York


Weiss transformed the Holocaust from an unimaginable recitation of statistics to an intensely personal realization of what and who were lost, from a focus on death to an affirmation of life.

Henry Cohen, Rabbi Emeritus, Gladwyne, Pennsylvania

To book the exhibition, arrange interviews, film screening, book talks or to request more information or ways to get involved, please contact Ann Weiss directly at 610-527-3131 (best), annweiss@thelastalbum.org The Last Album is a 501(c)3 non-profit foundation.

Presentations, Film Screenings, Book Talks | The Video | Photo Exhibition

The Book

THE LAST ALBUM

Eyes from the Ashes of Auschwitz-Birkenau
by
Ann Weiss

They were the photos that no one was supposed to see.
The Nazi order to destroy every personal photograph brought to every concentration camp was clear: Not only were the victims to be destroyed—so too were their memories and their precious photographs.

In October of 1986, during a tour of Auschwitz, Ann Weiss came upon a locked archive whose contents were to become the inspiration for THE LAST ALBUM: Eyes from the Ashes of Auschwitz-Birkenau [W.W. Norton & Company; January 15, 2001; $39.95 cloth]. She discovered 2400 photographs, confiscated from Jews in 1943, which had been hidden and unknown for more than forty years. Of the millions of photos brought by the millions of people to Nazi concentration camps, it is only these photos from one transport that miraculously survived. Why? How? Weiss tells the story in her riveting personal interviews.

The photos were among the cherished last possessions of a trainload of Jewish prisoners from Eastern Europe, confiscated upon their arrival to Auschwitz-Birkenau. Virtually forgotten in the annals of Auschwitz, they remained locked away, only to emerge decades later with remarkable stories to tell. These unforgettable images depict the Jews, not as they died, but as they had lived, and in these remarkable photos, we easily recognize images of our loved ones and of ourselves. With over 400 photos, this stunning tableau reveals whole worlds lost in the Holocaust. And furthermore, unlike any other work to date, the photos in THE LAST ALBUM reveal what the individuals, themselves, as they were leaving home for the last time chose for their own remembering.

Weiss, herself a daughter of two Holocaust survivors from Poland, has spent over a decade traveling the globe trying to uncover the lost personal histories of individuals and families depicted in the Auschwitz photos. Following every possible lead, interviewing survivors in Europe, Israel and North America, she was eventually able to reassemble identities of several hundred, piecing together stories that had been the silent companions of these lost images for many years. Furthermore, and very poignantly, she was able to give photos to remaining family members, in some cases, giving survivors the only photos that they have. As one said, “Now I can show my family who I came from.”

Complete with a foreword by Leon Wieseltier of The New Republic, an introduction by James E.Young, author of The Texture of Memory, and an opening passage by Nobel Prize Laureate Elie Wiesel, THE LAST ALBUM illuminates the profound tragedy of the Holocaust from a dramatically different perspective than those we have seen before. Individual by individual, and family by family, it weaves the heretofore anonymous faces together with the contexts and stories that lend them a true sense of identity. Not only does it reveal many names, but it also brings back to life the quotidian details of their existences. Weddings, vacations, school outings: all are depicted here, complete with accounts provided by those who knew the victims. The result is a moving revival of lives and people formerly lost to history. For anyone wishing to understand the real cost of genocide, this book will make tangible the depth and scope of loss such a tragedy invokes. In the words of author Ann Weiss, “I choose to put the final punctuation on the people they were in life, not the victims they became in death.”

To book the exhibition, arrange interviews, film screening, book talks or to request more information or ways to get involved, please contact Ann Weiss directly at 610-527-3131 (best), annweiss@thelastalbum.org The Last Album is a 501(c)3 non-profit foundation.

Presentations, Film Screenings, Book Talks | The Video | The Book | Photo Exhibition

The Video

Eyes from the Ashes

Featuring treasured personal photos brought to Auschwitz-Birkenau by Jews deported there, this video focuses on pre-war images of Jewish life and culture. A single violin strain of music contemporaneous with the photographs, is performed by Arkady Starikovsky, newly arrived from Kiev’s Symphony Orchestra, accompanies the simple text. The photos in this video montage show, compellingly and simply, who and what was lost.

Widely acclaimed, Eyes from the Ashes video has been screened to diverse audiences worldwide, including civic and religious groups, academic conferences, city-wide commemorations and students of all ages, including university, high school, junior high and even upper elementary school. It has been screened in Great Britain, France, former Yugoslavia, former Soviet Union, Israel, Canada and many cities in the United States. Excerpts of the film have appeared on television stations in the US and Israel.

Educators have been using the video, since the first version was appeared in 1989. Because of persistent requests, a children’s versions of the book, and related material are now in development.

Selected comments from those who have used the video:

“Eyes from the Ashes is part of every Summer Institute taught to teachers at Yad Vashem.”

Karen Shawn, Director, Yad Vashem Summer Institute, Jerusalem

“I use the photos in the film to motivate students to write. I have gotten the most extraordinary poems and other writing from my students reacting to Eyes from the Ashes.”

Lowell Hamilton, Junior High School Teacher, New Jersey

“I always use Weiss’ film, whenever I teach about the Holocaust. It enables my students to understand the essential core of the tragedy–that it happened to people like all of us.”

Cary Evans, High School Teacher, Illinois

“I’ve never seen anything quite like these pictures. Seeing people alive and happy and living normal lives is quite different than what we usually see. Especially in a place like Mississippi, where kids sometimes learn very troubling attitudes at home, I use your film to personalize the Holocaust, and try to fight the racism I see around me, even a little bit.”

Kathy (last name withheld upon request), Teacher, Mississippi

To book the exhibition, arrange interviews, film screening, book talks or to request more information or ways to get involved, please contact Ann Weiss directly at 610-527-3131 (best), annweiss@thelastalbum.org The Last Album is a 501(c)3 non-profit foundation.