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News – New York Jewish Week

New York Jewish Week
New York and Environs
March 23, 2001

THE PHOTOS THEY CARRIED

New Book Chronicles What Auschwitz Prisoners Brought
with Them and How They Wanted to Be Remembered

by Sandee Brawarsky

“If memories form a circle around the heart, as S.Y. Agnon writes in “Betrothed.” Then photographs uphold that circle.”

“Many of the people whose photographs appear in The Last Album… are smiling. Almost all look directly at the camera, with a certain confident, content and hopeful gaze. The book has the feel of someone else’s family album – the people almost look familiar.”

“The Last Album is a very different work than photo collections of pre-war Europe by noted photographers like Roman Vishniak or Alter Kacyzne….The power of the photographs in this new book has les to do with their sense of composition or artistic value than with the reason they were brought to Auschwitz in the first place: For the prisoners, these are the images of loved ones they wanted to remember as they were taken to an unknown destination and fate. The photos were the embracing circles around their hearts….”

“In talking with Weiss about her project, her passion for the photos and the stories behind them seems boundless. She remarks that some of the survivors told her of events they hadn’t spoken of before. “I am a shaliach, an emissary, a messenger for the photographs—no more, no less,” she writes. Some of the survivors might use another word for messenger and call her an angel.”