Duchess of Cambridge Photographs Holocaust Survivors for 75th Anniversary of Auschwitz Liberation

Duchess of Cambridge Photographs Holocaust Survivors for 75th Anniversary of Auschwitz Liberation

Catherine (Kate) Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge, has created a series of images to mark the 75th anniversary of the end of the Holocaust.

The Holocaust — an event from which humanity is some way off of recovering from, if indeed it's at all possible — sits in a difficult period of history; not only for the atrocities seen but its mixture of recency and distance. For those in schools today, it must seem so far back it's difficult to relate to. But many of us had parents, grandparents, and other family members who were directly affected by the Holocaust and to whom it is important to remember the events.

Kate Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge, is a keen member of The Royal Photographic Society and keen photographer. This week she published a series for the anniversary of the end of the Holocaust in which she photographed survivors.

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This photo, taken by The Duchess of Cambridge (@kensingtonroyal), is of Yvonne Bernstein, originally from Germany, who was a hidden child in France throughout most of the Holocaust. She is pictured with her granddaughter Chloe Wright, aged 11. Speaking about the project, RPS Patron, The Duchess of Cambridge said: ‘The harrowing atrocities of the Holocaust, which were caused by the most unthinkable evil, will forever lay heavy in our hearts. Yet it is so often through the most unimaginable adversity that the most remarkable people flourish. Despite unbelievable trauma at the start of their lives, Yvonne Bernstein and Steven Frank are two of the most life-affirming people that I have had the privilege to meet. They look back on their experiences with sadness but also with gratitude that they were some of the lucky few to make it through. Their stories will stay with me forever. Whilst I have been lucky enough to meet two of the now very few survivors, I recognise not everyone in the future will be able to hear these stories first hand. It is vital that their memories are preserved and passed on to future generations, so that what they went through will never be forgotten. One of the most moving accounts I read as a young girl was ‘The Diary of Anne Frank’ which tells a very personal reflection of life under Nazi occupation from a child’s perspective. Her sensitive and intimate interpretation of the horrors of the time was one of the underlying inspirations behind the images. I wanted to make the portraits deeply personal to Yvonne and Steven – a celebration of family and the life that they have built since they both arrived in Britain in the 1940s. The families brought items of personal significance with them which are included in the photographs. It was a true honour to have been asked to participate in this project and I hope in some way Yvonne and Steven’s memories will be kept alive as they pass the baton to the next generation.’ Project in collaboration with @holocaustmemorialdaytrust & @jewishnewsuk to mark 75th anniversary of the end of the Holocaust. A special commemorative exhibition announced soon. For more information please read #linkinbio

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As part of the commemorations for the 75th anniversary of the end of the Holocaust, The Duchess of Cambridge has taken photographs of two Holocaust survivors with their grandchildren. The first photograph features Steven Frank with his granddaughters, Maggie and Trixie. Alongside his mother and brothers, Steven was sent to Westerbork transit camp then to Theresienstadt. Steven and his brothers were 3 of only 93 children who survived the camp - 15,000 children were sent there. The Duchess also photographed Yvonne Bernstein with her granddaughter Chloe. Yvonne was a hidden child in France, travelling in the care of her aunt and uncle and frequently changing homes and names. The Duchess said: “I wanted to make the portraits deeply personal to Yvonne and Steven – a celebration of family and the life that they have built since they both arrived in Britain in the 1940s. The families brought items of personal significance with them which are included in the photographs. It was a true honour to have been asked to participate in this project and I hope in some way Yvonne and Steven’s memories will be kept alive as they pass the baton to the next generation.” The portraits will form part of a new exhibition opening later this year by @holocaustmemorialdaytrust, Jewish News and @royalphotographicsociety , which will feature 75 images of survivors and their family members. The exhibition will honour the victims of the Holocaust and celebrate the full lives that survivors have built in the UK, whilst inspiring people to consider their own responsibility to remember and share the stories of those who endured Nazi persecution. Portraits ©The Duchess of Cambridge

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To stay within Fstoppers' wheelhouse, I'll discuss the images which I think are beautiful. They have a classic, painterly portrait feel achieved with what looks to be one large softbox, mimicking a bay window typically used to light paintings of subjects throughout the ages. The simple, reserved style is fitting and the images are sweet and reflective. I'm not one to heap praise on "celebrity" photographers simply because their fame predates their relationship with a camera, but there's very little to not enjoy about this artistic memorial.

Lead image by Ricky Wilson used under Creative Commons 2.0

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13 Comments

Studio 403's picture

So touching, thank you for keeping the memories alive in photography. Inspires me to keep shooting.

Alex Herbert's picture

I don't think Kate has an account on this site. You'd do better to send her a letter :)

David Pavlich's picture

Anything to keep what happened during WWII in the world's memory is a good thing!

David Pavlich's picture

My uncle was with Patton's Third Army and saw it. The only way I knew about it was my Dad, his brother, told me. My uncle wouldn't talk about it. :-(

Yep, true. It's being systematically wiped out of school history books which isn't good

David Pavlich's picture

Surprisingly, I was in a junior high library where our photo club holds its meetings. Looking through their books, I found a very good book about the European Theater that was not only full of facts, but loaded with images. I do know, though, that it's not taught like it was when I was in school....1969 high school grad.

William Nicholson's picture

And it's sad that history is not taught the way it was and today they teach and discuss soft issues of history so children do not get feelings hurt. I have two boys that will soon graduate high school know very little about the war to end all wars and the holocaust. It is frowned upon to teach such history because the so called children experts claim such teaching will traumatize children. WTF is wrong with our society. I have discussed the holocaust in length with them. It seems to many parents and special groups want to shelter our youth from the truth of war's.

Tim Ericsson's picture

I'd like some evidence that they don't teach WWII and the Holocaust in your kid's schools because they're afraid of getting children's feelings hurt. Sounds a little more "old man cranky" than accurate, lol. That's not the case at all in the curriculum or instruction I've used in classes. From your profile it seems you are in Colorado. Here's a link to the Colorado Holocaust Educators group if you're concerned that your kids aren't getting enough information about the subject: http://www.coholo.org/.

Also, the "war to end all wars" was WWI, not WWII. Looks like you need a refresher on that history as well, lol!

Motti Bembaron's picture

Well done!

jim hughes's picture

Nice work.

Blake Aghili's picture

I came here to see what camera she used :D

"They have a classic, painterly portrait feel achieved with what looks to be one large softbox, mimicking a bay window typically used to light paintings of subjects throughout the ages."

What? looks like they used an actual window, its in the second photo of the first instagram post...