Timing is everything. The number of remaining Holocaust survivors is rapidly decreasing. Thirty live in Tidewater. Several were children in Eastern and Western Europe, but many are Russians or Ukrainians who were young children during WWII. Now they are in their 80s and 90s.
Twenty-six of these survivors are represented in a powerful series of portraits by Richmond photographer Dean Whitbeck. The photographs will be exhibited for the first time at Yom Hashoah at Congregation Beth El on April 11. Each has a unique story.
The idea was born when Vivian Margulies, co-chair of the cultural arts committee of UJFT’s Holocaust Commission, became aware of similar projects in Buffalo, N.Y., and Richmond, Va. While the What We Carry program memorializes five local survivors, a liberator and a rescuer, she and her committee wanted to do something to honor the current remaining survivors.
Margulies had seen the deeply moving Holocaust Survivors Photo Project by Whitbeck, in Richmond, which was tied to the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz on January 27, 1945. Whitbeck was soon commissioned to create intimate photos of Tidewater’s small community of Holocaust survivors.
This show honors and celebrates these survivors and their incredible stories. The portraits are a strong reminder of the unimaginable affects that can result from hate, and the intense and indomitable power of the human spirit.
After the opening at Yom Hashoah, Faces of Survival will be displayed at the Virginia Holocaust Museum in Richmond and at the Slover Library in Norfolk. Each survivor will receive a print of their portrait, and the originals will eventually be installed in the Simon Family JCC on the Sandler Family Campus.