Long-lost Faces - Recollections of Holocaust victims in documents and photographs
From 16. 10. 2003 to 23. 01. 2004
The exhibition runs from 16 October 2003 till 23 January 2004 in the Robert Guttmann Gallery. Open daily 9 a.m. – 6 p.m., except Saturdays and Jewish holidays.
The exhibition “Long-lost Faces” is based on the project “Help Search for Neighbours who Disappeared”, which was launched in December 2001 by the Jewish Museum in Prague. The aim of this project was to approach as many people as possible with a request to help out in the gathering of documents on the wartime and pre-war lives of Jews who were racially persecuted during World War II. The Museum contacted the public through a series of media appeals for assistance in the search for mementos, photographs and other material that recall their lives, faces and fates.
The response from the public was overwhelming, with hundreds of related visits to the Museum in the course of two years. Often, very valuable material was handed over to staff at the Holocaust department. Many people donated documents to the Museum, while others enabled them to be copied.
Some of the donors found out more detailed information about the fate of their family and friends while visiting the Museum, where they had the opportunity to access a computer index with basic personal data on the victims and information on their deportation to Terezín and further east. Many faces in photographs were identified only on the basis of collating information from the database, documents and the reminiscences of donors. In the course of this search, donors heard, often for the first time, about certain lesser-known concentration camps, ghettos and extermination centres in eastern Poland, the Baltic States and Belarus
In this way we managed to bring together not only documents of an official nature, such as public notices, bulletins and forms from the period of the Nazi occupation, but also a wide range of personal items – portraits, family and school photographs, personal documents, birth and wedding certificates, reports, identification cards, passports and membership cards, as well as official and illegal correspondence from home, Terezín and other Nazi camps and ghettos. Valuable sources for illustrating the everyday life of Jewish inmates also include diaries, scrapbooks, poems and personal narratives. There is also a completely separate group of memorial objects.
All these documents are being stored in the Holocaust department where they will be available for researchers and historians and, gradually, will also be used in the course of other visits.
The exhibition “Long-lost Faces” acquaints the public only with a fraction of what has been brought together as part of the project. The exhibition curators have tried to create a cross-section that will present as well as possible the variety of the material and, at the same time, recall the life stories of people who, until the onset of persecution, lived ordinary family lives, enjoyed friendships, love and pleasure, but also had everyday worries, studied, worked, and had good times in general… Without reason, their fates were severed and, in many cases, their children were not allowed to reach adulthood.
Our respect and warm thanks go to all those who have not forgotten and who do not want to forget about their murdered Jewish relatives, friends and neighbours and who deserve praise for gathering together these valuable documents