LOS ANGELES, Jan. 22, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- In honor of the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the German Nazi concentration and extermination camp Auschwitz, USC Shoah Foundation – The Institute for Visual History and Education has organized a Jan. 26 photo shoot in Poland of four survivors who as children were depicted standing behind a barbed-wire fence at Auschwitz shortly after liberation.
The iconic image, taken by Alexander Vorontsov, a cameraman attached to the 1st Ukrainian Front who liberated the camp in the winter of 1945, shows 13 grim-faced children in prison garb gazing at the camera opposite the barbed wire. Ten of the 13 children are still alive today.
Ian Gavan, staff photographer for Getty Images, will take the contemporary shot in Krakow the day before the official anniversary, which will be recognized with a commemoration at the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum in Poland on Jan. 27. The four survivors in the photo shoot will be among 300 Auschwitz survivors attending the commemoration.
The four survivors participating in the photo are 85-year-old Gabor Hirsch of Switzerland, 80-year-old Eva Kor of Chicago, 81-year-old Paula Lebovics of Los Angeles and 79-year-old Miriam Ziegler of Toronto.
"These four children not only persevered through the horrors of Auschwitz, they went on to lead full lives," said Stephen Smith, executive director of USC Shoah Foundation. "The 1.1 million people murdered at Auschwitz were robbed of this basic human right."
Of the 13 children, eight have given testimony to the Institute's Visual History Archive, which contains 52,000 video testimonies of survivors and witnesses of the Holocaust and other genocides. In addition to the four survivors to be photographed on Jan. 26, they are 81-year-old Tomy Shaham, 80-year-old Marta Wise, 84-year-old Erika Dohan Winter -- all of Israel -- and 83-year-old Eva Slonim of Australia.
This past summer, the Institute set out to track down the names of all 13 children and contact as many as possible. The photo had long piqued the interest of staff members, who were curious about who the children were and what became of them. Through the Institute's work, five of the children were already known to the staff: Lebovics, as well as sisters Eva Slonim and Marta Wise, and sisters Eva Kor and Miriam Zeiger.
Staff members at the Institute found the official Russian caption in the Institute's Archive, and obtained additional documentation from the archives at Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum. They also found a 2005 photo depicting and identifying seven of the grown children at a ceremony observing the 60th anniversary. But as of September, three of the children remained unidentified.
Institute staff members found one -- Ziegler -- through her daughter's Facebook page. They connected with Hirsch after his son read a news story about the approaching commemoration and contacted the Institute. They found the third person – Ruth Webber – through her husband's testimony in the Visual History Archive.
Short video clips of the four survivors to be photographed will be available for viewing and downloading at the Institute's web page dedicated to the anniversary. To find them, go to https://sfi.usc.edu/pastispresent and click the "about survivors" tab. Also, on Jan. 27, the Institute will post an interactive photo of the iconic image enabling users to read the bios of each of the 13 children.
The contemporary photo will be distributed by Getty Images over their wire, the historic image can be obtained by contacting Bob Ahern at Getty Images.
About USC Shoah Foundation
USC Shoah Foundation — The Institute for Visual History and Education is dedicated to making audio- visual interviews with survivors and other witnesses of the Holocaust and other genocides, a compelling voice for education and action. The Institute's current collection of more than 53,000 eyewitness testimonies contained within its Visual History Archive preserves history as told by the people who lived it, and lived through it. Housed at the University of Southern California, within the Dana and David Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences, the Institute works with partners around the world to advance scholarship and research, to provide resources and online tools for educators, and to disseminate the testimonies for educational purposes.
SOURCE USC Shoah Foundation