Photographing Survival: Survivor Photographs of, and at, Auschwitz

  • Tim Cole


This essay examines a number of photographs taken by survivors on return visits to Auschwitz and shown to interviewers—and by extension a wider public—at the end of interviews filmed by the Shoah Foundation Visual History Archive. As they show these photographs, survivors add their own verbal captioning to these images. Although these images differ, in particular in telling contrasting stories of continuity and discontinuity, they share a set of conventions and purposes that distinguishes them from most tourist photography at Auschwitz. While tourist photographs tend to eschew people, focusing on empty—and emptied—landscapes, survivor photographs tend to be portraits or self-portraits. Through carefully staged portraits at Auschwitz, survivors not only evidence their own survival, but also construct their identity as survivors.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Tim Cole
    • 1
  1. 1.University of BristolBristolUK

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