Tuesday 11 May 2021

Holocaust photos ‘too horrific’ to go on show at specialist museum

The National Holocaust Museum. PHoto: Luuk Kramer

Four unique photographs showing Jews being sent into the gas chamber and the burning of bodies at Auschwitz concentration camp were not shown in an exhibition at the National Holocaust Museum in Amsterdam for being too shocking, the Volkskrant said on Friday.

The photos, which were taken at great risk to his own life by Greek prisoner Alberto Errera and smuggled out in a toothpaste tube, are the only known photographs in which the acts of the mass extinction of Jews can be actually seen.

They should have formed ‘the logical conclusion’ of an exhibition which tells the story of the holocaust in photographs, guest curators Erik Somers and René Kok said.

‘We show how the societal exclusion of Jews progressed from 1940 and how it was followed by persecution and finally, extinction. This ultimate consequence must be shown, no matter how shocking,’ they told the paper.

Emile Schrijver, director of Amsterdam’s Jewish Cultural Quarter, told the paper that apart from doubts about the educational value of the horrific photos, they were already on show at the Hollandse Schouwburg opposite the museum.

‘It would have been ridiculous to show photos by a Greek photographer with Greek victims now when visitors can see them on the other side of the street. This exhibition did not warrant their inclusion as it is about the persecution of Dutch Jews,’ he told the paper.

Errera’s photos were not removed but covered up. The reason for this is that the exhibition, titled The persecution of the Jews in photographs, is going to travel to Berlin where it can be seen at the Topographie des Terror institute from October 29.

‘They will naturally go on show there. The Germans would very much object to the removal of the photos,’ the paper quotes Somers as saying.

It is not known where Errera got the camera to make his photos. He did not survive the camp.

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