Atrocities committed by the Nazis during the Holocaust were photographed more intensely that any before. In the time since the images were taken they have been subjected to a perplexing variety of treatments: variously ignored, suppressed, distorted and above all exploited for propaganda purposes. With the use of many photographs, including some never before seen, this book traces the history of this process and asks whether the images can be true representations of the events they were depicting. Yet their provenance, Janina Struk argues, has been less important that the uses to which a wide range of political interests has put them, from the desperate attempts of the war-time underground to provide hard evidence of the death camps to the memorial museums of Europe, the US and Israel today.
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Atrocities committed by the Nazis during the Holocaust were photographed more intensively than any others, before or since. These images have been subjected to a perplexing variety of treatments: variously ignored, suppressed, distorted and above all exploited for propaganda purposes or political interest. Struk suggests that their provenance - whether taken by the Nazis or their collaborators or by the Jews themselves, their sympathisers and the resistance movements in the occupied territories; or by the Allied forces at the end of the war - has been seen as of secondary importance to their meaning. She recounts the history of the use and abuse of Holocaust photographs and asks whether or not these images can serve as true representations of the events they depict. The questions explored are illustrated with a wide range of photographs, including a number never published before.
Janina Struk is a freelance photographer and writer. She has been a senior lecturer in photography at the University of Westminster in London.