Is it right to view photos of the Holocaust taken by the Nazis?


Is it right to view photos of the Holocaust taken by the Nazis?

History or propaganda, one can question whether these images are a reliable version of the events

Etan Smallman

Winston Churchill and Hermann Göring both uttered a version of the adage “History is written by the victors”. But when it comes to the visual record of the near-obliteration of European Jewry, extraordinarily, the Nazis still reign supreme.

Up to the point of liberation, almost every photo of ghettos and concentration camps displayed in almost every museum in the world is one that was carefully crafted and captured by the perpetrators. As the world marked the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz death camp on Monday, a new exhibition suggests it is time to reflect on the way our often-thoughtless use of these photos is continuing to perpetuate Nazi propaganda messages – with images depicting Jews as terrified, pitiful figures either meekly surrendering or dying in squalor.

“They’re meant to be degrading, they’re meant to be antisemitic,” says Maiken Umbach, a professor of modern history who led a team of Nottingham University academics to create the National Holocaust Centre and Museum’s touring exhibition, The Eye as Witness...

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