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SURVIVORS

Faces of Life after the Holocaust

75 Portraits of Survivors

Photographed by Martin Schoeller
On January 21, 2020, the German Chancellor Angela Merkel and the Prime Minister of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia Armin Laschet are inaugurating the exhibition "SURVIVORS. Faces of Life after the Holocaust", being staged in the Zollverein Coal Mine Industrial Complex in Essen, a UNESCO world heritage site. Marking the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau Concentration Camp, the exhibition is showcasing 75 haunting portraits of Holocaust survivors, photographed by Martin Schoeller. For this commemorative project, the internationally-acclaimed artist is collaborating with the World Holocaust Remembrance Center Yad Vashem in Jerusalem, its German Society of Friends, and with the Bonn-domiciled Foundation for Art and Culture. The portraits are being premièred in the Zollverein from January 22, 2020. Further touring venues are also being planned.

Preserving humanity and dignity under inhumane conditions: This is the experience informing the larger-than-life, close-up portraits of the 75 survivors, which were taken in the Yad Vashem Memorial Center in Jerusalem, where Schoeller spent much time with his subjects in preparing the portraits. „I was raised in Germany“, explains Martin Schoeller, who has lived in New York for many years. „I grew up with this incredible sense of guilt and shock, which lead me to question my own identity. How could people from my country commit these horrendous crimes? It is very scary to see what is happening in Europe right now, that anti-Semitism has come back so strongly. Now more than ever, I feel a great responsibility to fight anti-Semitism whenever I see it and to do whatever I can to make sure that something like the Holocaust can never happen again. I do think that people have a responsibility for their history. If everybody looked at their own history and tried to learn from it and then went on to use that knowledge to better themselves and to better society, ultimately, I think that is what will bring us all forward as human beings“.

It is of profound importance both today and for future generations to gaze into these lined and weathered faces: For the portrayed subjects are among the few surviving contemporary eye-witnesses. Stripped of artifice, Schoeller’s photographs serve as an enduring testament of the personal and collective history and convey the horrors of the Holocaust, as no words can.

„The legacy of the Shoah that these survivors nurtured with such fortitude and commitment is now bequeathed to us, and their hopes for a better future are now ours to treasure and to realize.“, explains the Chairman of Yad Vashem, Avner Shalev. „At Yad Vashem, the World Holocaust Remembrance Center, we fervently believe that ensuring that their messages and values are honoured and implemented is a sacred mission for the entire world. As we go forward in the twenty-first century, we recommit to maintaining accurate Holocaust memory and to building more humane, tolerant and democratic societies for the sake of the generations to come.“

The exhibition has been extended until July 26th 2020.

Visitor Information

Opening hours

22.01. – 26.07.2020
Open daily from 11 am – 5 pm

Admission price

At the visitor’s own discretion

Photobook

Steidl-Verlag, ISBN 978-3-95829-621-3
Museum price: 28 euro

Programme

events accompanying the exhibition

Advanced booking required / includes a guided tour of the exhibition

Wed, 26.2.2020 | 6 pm
Artist talk with Martin Schoeller (Moderator: Kai Diekmann, Chairman of the Society of Friends of Yad Vashem in Germany)

Tue, 31.03.2020 | 6 pm
Herbert Rubinstein: „The good will prevail. A contemporary eye-witness remembers.“

Conversation with contemporary eye-witnesses for school students, aged 15 and above.
During the course of the exhibition, the Holocaust survivor Herbert Rubinstein will be present to engage in discussions with students at 10 am on every Tuesday (11.02., 18.02., 24.03. and 31.03.2020). Together with his mother, the then 10-year-old Herbert Rubinstein managed to escape deportation to a concentration camp and flee. For the past 60 years he has lived in Düsseldorf, where he has remained an active and influential figure within the Jewish community.

Exhibition venue

Zollverein UNESCO World Heritage Site

UNESCO-Welterbe Zollverein
Areal C (Kokerei), Mischanlage
Arendahls Wiese
45309 Essen

Information / Contact

Visitor Service

Besucherdienst Zollverein
Tel.: 0201 24681-444
besucherdienst@zollverein.de
www.zollverein.de