Duchess of Cambridge's photos feature in RPS exhibition of holocaust survivors

New exhibition Generations: Portraits of Holocaust Survivors held at rps 2022
Ben Helfgott MBE with his grandson Sam. After the war Ben became a champion weightlifter. (Image credit: © Frederic Aranda / Royal Photographic Society)

A new exhibition is to be held at the Royal Photographic Society (RPS) Gallery that brings together over 50 contemporary portraits captured of Holocaust survivors and their families. The photo series aims to shed a light on the lives of survivors and highlights our collective responsibility to cherish their stories.

Leading contemporary photographers including RPS patron, the Duchess of Cambridge, will have new works showcased in the exhibition, 'Generations: Portraits of Holocaust Survivors', on display at the RPS Gallery, Bristol, UK from 27 January to 27 Mar 2022. 

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Holocaust survivors and their younger generation families have had their special connection documented throughout this powerful photo series. The diabolical events that make up the Holocaust and the systemic persecution of Jews during 1933 and 1945 by the Nazi party caused the devastating loss of 6 million lives. For survivors, they are left with undoubtedly life changing trauma and memories impacted by their own individual experiences. 

Through this moving photo series of both individual and family portraits, subjects are presented as a strong group of survivors who have now made the UK their home after tragic beginnings marked by unimaginable loss. These portraits featured in the exhibition offer a celebration of the lives these survivors have lived and the special continued legacy with which their children and grandchildren can carry onwards.

Freddie Knoller BEM photographed on his 100th birthday with his wife Freida, daughters Susie and Marcia, and grandson Nadav. (Image credit: © Frederic Aranda / Royal Photographic Society)

Generations: Portraits of Holocaust Survivors, incorporates brand new bodies of work, most of which were captured in Spring 2021, from contemporary photographers such as Frederic Aranda, Jillian Edelstein, Sian Bonnell, Arthur Edwards, Anna Fox, Joy Gregory, Jane Hilton, Tom Hunter, Karen Knorr, Carolyn Mendelsohn, Simon Roberts and Michelle Sank.

Examples of images we can expect to see at this exhibition involve Freddie Knoller BEM photographed on his 100th birthday next to his wife, two daughters and grandson. Freddie was born in 1921 and forced to leave his home in Vienna to live as a Jewish refugee, joining the French Resistance in 1943 and surviving imprisonment in camps at Auschwitz. He moved to London in the 1950s and started a family, who will ensure that Freddie's important story will continue to hold legacy for years to come. 

Other portraits feature survivors pictured alongside mementoes from childhood such as passports and teddy bears, while sat in the homes where they have created new memories and lives for themselves. Intimate portraits captured by the Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton were commissioned specially for the exhibition and feature portraits of survivors Steven Frank BEM and Yvonne Bernstein. 

Steven Frank, aged 84, with his granddaughters Maggie and Trixie - shot by the Duchess of Cambridge with a 50mm lens. Steven survived multiple concentration camps as a child. (Image credit: © The Duchess of Cambridge / Royal Photographic Society)

The RPS's Project Curator, Tracy Marshall-Grant, shares that "Each portrait shows the special connection between the survivor and subsequent generations of their family, and it emphasises their important legacy. The portraits, by leading contemporary British photographers, seek to simultaneously inspire audiences to consider their own responsibility to remember and to share the stories of those who endured persecution. It creates a legacy that will allow those descendants to connect directly back and inspire future generations.”

A free outdoor edition of the exhibition will be hosted by UNESCO at its Paris headquarters from now until the 4 February as part of commemorations around Holocaust Memorial Day. Accompanying the exhibition is a streamed online event that will take place on 16 February, where Marc Wilson talks about his project documenting the physical traces of the Holocaust, presented in his book A Wounded Landscape - bearing witness to the Holocaust that was published in October 2021.

Ruth Sands was smuggled to France as a baby, before eventually being reunited with her parents. She has two sons, two daughters-in-law and five grandchildren. (Image credit: © Jillian Edelstein / Royal Photographic Society)

 The exhibition is in partnership with the Imperial War Museum, Jewish News and the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust, expecting to open on 27 January 2022, to coincide with the Holocaust Memorial Day. The RPS will also be hosting a series of events to commemorate the new exhibition including a planned open day on 6 March that will feature talks from both survivors and photographers.

Advanced booking and tickets are required to visit the RPS Gallery exhibition, though the exhibition will be free admission. Information on tickets, educational resources and general information can be found on the Generations page of the RPS website. 

Saul Erner, aged 86, with his granddaughters Evie and Sophia. Saul has a clear memory of escaping to England from Belgium as a five-year-old. (Image credit: © Sian Bonnell / Royal Photographic Society)

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Beth Nicholls
Staff Writer

A staff writer for Digital Camera World, Beth has an extensive background in various elements of technology with five years of experience working as a tester and sales assistant for CeX. After completing a degree in Music Journalism, followed by obtaining a Master's degree in Photography awarded by the University of Brighton, she spends her time outside of DCW as a freelance photographer specialising in live music events and band press shots under the alias 'bethshootsbands'.