Photos on the Fence: Holocaust Survivors at the United Nations

Last weekend I had the chance to go see a special installation displayed on the fence outside of the United Nations headquarters in Manhattan. The photos are one half of an exhibition memorializing the victims and survivors of the Holocaust titled Survivors, Victims and Perpetrators, and were taken by Italian photographer Luigi Toscano as part of the Lest We Forget project. (I haven’t yet had the opportunity to see the other half of the exhibit, which is located inside the Visitors’ Center.)

The photos are larger than life and intensely powerful. The survivors’ faces engage the viewers; both hope and sorrow are visible in their gazes. Each one is accompanied by a small card that gives each survivor’s name, place and date of birth, date and details of arrest and detention, and information about liberation. Some cards had additional heartbreaking details about what happened to other members of the survivor’s family during the Holocaust. Two even had the caps they had worn in the concentration camps.

Here are some of the photos that stayed with me even after I left the site.

I’m going to stop with these, as I don’t want to ruin the exhibition for those who have the chance to visit it themselves. Hopefully from these you can understand why I found the photographs so gripping.

Want to see this powerful exhibition in person? It’s located at the entrance to the United Nations headquarters on First Avenue, between 46th and 48th Streets. (The M15 bus runs north along First Avenue, if you are traveling by public transportation.) Survivors, Victims and Perpetrators is only on view through the end of February 2018.

21 thoughts on “Photos on the Fence: Holocaust Survivors at the United Nations

  1. Reblogged this on John Knifton and commented:
    This blog is written by Susan Landrum who lives in New York and it is called “Finding NYC”. It is a wonderful blog to follow because she deals primarily with art exhibitions and other artistic themes. This post is a little different. It shows the photographs of Holocaust survivors outside the United Nations building. Enjoy a wonderful set of photographs and try to remember who and what they represent.

  2. What an amazing exhibition Susan – deeply moving and an immensely powerful presentation. A few years back we were in Berlin at the time of a rolling series of exhibitions “Diversity Destroyed 1933 – 1938” to remember and honour the victims of the appalling events (it was 80 years since the Nazis came to power). They had posters all around the city each one with a photo and a story of a particular person – it was haunting, lest we forget.

      1. I agree it seems particularly salient today and photography is such a powerful medium. It is so important to never forget – my husband was watching Schindler’s List again recently I have never been able to watch it all the way through but am determined to force myself. I cannot even begin to fathom the suffering. Also have recently discovered unknown Jewish heritage courtesy of an Ancestry DNA test and am now uncovering family secrets from the 19th century (a “non parental event”). I can never understand discrimination of any sort – we are all so closely connected – more so than we realise much of the time.

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