In 2009, Dr. Wendy Lower, the acclaimed author of Hitler’s Furies and chair of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum’s Academic Council, was shown a photograph just brought to the Museum. The image—a rare “action shot” documenting the horrific final moment of a family’s murder—drove her to conduct years of forensic and archival detective work in Ukraine, Germany, Slovakia, Israel, and the United States, recovering new layers of detail about the Nazis’ open-air massacres in eastern Europe and the role of the family unit in Nazi ideology.
In her new book The Ravine: A Family, a Photograph, a Holocaust Massacre Revealed, Lower explores the exceptional image and the new understandings it has unlocked about the Holocaust. In this program, Lower discusses the book and her research with Paul Salmons, a Holocaust education specialist, curator of Auschwitz. Not long ago. Not far away., chief curator of Seeing Auschwitz, and consultant to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.
Watch the program below.
This program’s original recording transcript is below. This transcription was created automatically during a live program so may contain inaccurate transcriptions of some words.
Ari Goldstein: I'm Ari Goldstein, Senior Public programs producer at the Museum of Jewish heritage A Living Memorial the Holocaust and it's a pleasure to welcome you to today's program with Wendy lauer and Paul since.
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Ari Goldstein: we're here to discuss wendy's excellent new book The ravine a family, a photograph a Holocaust massacre revealed, which was just released two months ago.
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Ari Goldstein: The book book explores a single and quite exceptional image and the new understandings that the image has unlocked about the Holocaust, you can order your link at your book at the link in the zoom chat.
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Ari Goldstein: Wendy is the acclaimed author of hitler's theories and Chair of the United States Holocaust Memorial museum academic Council, in addition to the author of the book will be exploring today.
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Ari Goldstein: Paul joining us from the UK is a Holocaust education specialist curator at the groundbreaking exhibition Auschwitz, not long ago, not far away, which is on display here in New York, until this Sunday.
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Ari Goldstein: curator of seeing Auschwitz and consultant to the US Holocaust Memorial museum among his other work.
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Ari Goldstein: While Wendy and Paul chat today, please feel free to share questions for them in the zoom Q amp a box anytime during the discussion and will leave some some time to to address audience questions.
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Ari Goldstein: Without further ado welcome Wendy and Paul thanks for being here and sharing your knowledge with us today.
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Paul Salmons: Thank you so much airy it's a delight to be here, thank you for inviting me i'm really looking forward to this conversation with with Wendy.
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Paul Salmons: By way of introduction I just wanted to say a couple of things about how the Holocaust has been remembered and the importance of photography in our collective imagination, by way of introduction to wendy's book, which gives us in many ways a fresh look at this history.
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Paul Salmons: And disrupts I think some of the common myths and misconceptions about the Holocaust and that's one of the areas i'd really love to explore with you Wendy.
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Paul Salmons: Today, and so I just wonder if, when, if you don't mind sharing your screen there's a photograph I wanted to begin with, which is not the photograph of course from your book.
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Paul Salmons: But by way of introductions, so I would like to just talk a bit about what the Holocaust, how the whole course has been.
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Paul Salmons: remembered and how its framed within so much of our collective imagination, which I want to argue has been dominated by a number of iconic images.
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Paul Salmons: Many of them have been strongly informed by photographs of our streets, such as this one.
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Paul Salmons: We see in our again in our mind's eye when we think about Holocaust often it's steam locomotives putting a line afraid wagons arriving on the ramp in this case, our streets backing out its gateway looming over the seen.
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Paul Salmons: Thousands of Jewish people have spilled out onto that ramping up quickly divided into two large groups, we see men and older boys on one side, women and young children, on the other.
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Paul Salmons: in the foreground you see prisoners in strategy uniforms directing them and they walk in lines towards a uniform SS doctor.
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Paul Salmons: He directs each person in turn to the left or the right few of them for work inside the concentration camp complex, the vast majority to the gas chambers and crematoria.
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Paul Salmons: Where they will be murdered within hours of their arrival their bodies turn to ash some 1.3 million people were deported to Auschwitz.
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Paul Salmons: 1.1 million of them would choose 1 million of those Jewish people were murdered that they came from all over Europe.
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Paul Salmons: On railway lines, the crisscross the continent, the key point being victims were made mobile carried hundreds of miles to stationary death camps, such as our streets birth canal or two bells yet so people Treblinka where they are killers away to them.
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Paul Salmons: But while these images are ingrained on our collective memories they show the period, towards the end of the Holocaust this photograph was taken in the spring or summer of 1944.
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Paul Salmons: When systematic mass murder of Jews began.
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Paul Salmons: From the the the murder actually looked very different from the summer of 1941 when Germany invaded the Soviet Union, it was.
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Paul Salmons: that's fine you can thank you, yes, we can move on to the next, the next photo sharing.
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Paul Salmons: It was the murder squads that became mobile their victims were scattered in towns and villages over vast distances, where they were murdered close to their homes.
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Paul Salmons: were very few images of this other aspect of the Holocaust this Holocaust by bullets, but it's one such photograph this one, of course, which is the focus of Professor Professor lauer's new book The ravine.
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Paul Salmons: And I think part of the significance of this book is that helps to really Center a systematic mass murder process there was to claim the lives of up to 2 million men, women and children.
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Paul Salmons: For much further east them Auschwitz, and the other death camps so so this image that we read that we now turn and I wanted to give you just a few moments to take in this scene is it's a very difficult image, of course, to look upon.
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Paul Salmons: Rather than just launching straight in winching I was wondering if you just wanted to take a moment to look at the photograph yourself understand what's happening here.
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Paul Salmons: And perhaps in the chat.
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Paul Salmons: You might want to I don't think you need to describe what's actually taking place, we can see that it's it On one level it's self evident, but what are the kinds of questions that would arise arise for you now looking at this image what kinds of questions do you have about the scene.
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Paul Salmons: There are going to ask Wendy to help us read this image more closely and also speak to the questions that she had when she first encountered it.
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Paul Salmons: But if you want to just in the chat put some of your thoughts and questions, I can see who's doing the shooting so who are the perpetrators who are the characters.
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Paul Salmons: Thank you debra and the other questions people have.
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Paul Salmons: Had was the perpetrators feel about this who's taking the photo asking his shoes are those those the photograph taken.
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Paul Salmons: Is the fifth now as a civilian.
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Paul Salmons: One soldier he looks like he's smiling okay great So these are.
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Paul Salmons: were holding his mother holding the boy's hand the the comments are coming in the questions are coming in, so quickly it's hard to keep up with them, so I apologize if i'm not reading them all out I hope you're following along looking at them yourselves.
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Paul Salmons: What time of day, is it where did it happen.
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Paul Salmons: Great great questions, I think.
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Paul Salmons: Yes, so i'm so delighted that we have fessel hour with us today to help us read this image into tell us about the immense resource that went into her new book.
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Paul Salmons: So i'm going to ask Wendy.
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Paul Salmons: When did you first encounter this photograph what were your first thoughts on seeing you understand from this.
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Wendy Lower: Thank you, Paul, thank you for that wonderful introduction i'm so glad these questions are coming in and continue to come in and that's really what this is all about is is posing those questions.
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Wendy Lower: This is, this is what I did when I first saw it in 2009 and probably the biggest question that comes to mind when one looks at this is what does one do upon the discovery of such an image of murder.
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Wendy Lower: And that's what's happening in this photo the act of murder and it's a rare.
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Wendy Lower: document a rare piece of evidence of the Holocaust by bullets as Paul described it outside the killing camp killing centers.
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Wendy Lower: And there's so much to really discover and they're in this image and and as all of you have.
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Wendy Lower: already noted in your questions, there are so many clues here that need to be looked at more closely, and that was the.
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Wendy Lower: purpose of the book was to post that challenge of how much can be found out from one singular image, knowing that it's so rare, knowing that it can represent.
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Wendy Lower: Potentially millions of people who experienced this and certainly thousands who experiences who remain missing whose names have not been identified.
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Wendy Lower: Or the thousands of perpetrators at these lower level kinds of operations in a small town, who escaped justice, who are not prosecuted, so this this image does.
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Wendy Lower: represent an entire aspect of entire dimension of the Holocaust so it's an opportunity to learn.
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Wendy Lower: When I first came upon this in 2009 it was brought to me and I was at the Museum in Washington DC in the archives, I was actually working on another.
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Wendy Lower: project, and I was at the microfilm reader and two journalists came from Prague and they had found this image in the archives.
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Wendy Lower: In the state security archives and we're as compelled to want to do something about it and they went so far as to travel from Prague to Washington DC and, on that day in August actually was it was August nine to be exact.
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Wendy Lower: When I was there and I wasn't living in Washington DC or in the United States, I was living in Germany at the time, so really was a coincidence and.
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Wendy Lower: My colleague there, who also works on Ukraine knew I was there and said when you've got to see this he took me by the hand and brought me over to the table, and it was on the table, and we all.
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Wendy Lower: stood around like this, I looked at it and just started to ask questions of this image and as we studied it we started to kind of pick apart the elements in the way that I think.
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Wendy Lower: The audience has started to do like someone raised the issue of his shoes and these shoes in the foreground that are empty that.
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Wendy Lower: One wonders, you know who wore those shoes and what are they What are they doing there what is surrounding those shoes, we can see some papers, or some sort of cloth.
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Wendy Lower: We have the advantage of digital technology so over time, as we analyzed the image we scanned it we zoomed in and out, we could.
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Wendy Lower: identify, in fact, that there are bullet casings down here, so the, this is the evidence of mass murder it's also indicates that these are not the only victims that we see in the picture.
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Wendy Lower: broad daylight someone asked about the time that the picture was taken, we can see that this is an open air, mass shooting taken.
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Wendy Lower: Mid morning ish I would later recount in my book, almost hour by hour what happened on that day, the journalists.
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Wendy Lower: did have a little bit of very, very essential information, and that was what made it possible for us to really research this in depth, they knew.
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Wendy Lower: The location of the photograph mirror pole Ukraine they knew the date the image was that was captured and that was October 13 1941.
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Wendy Lower: And they knew the name of the photographer so these were three very essential pieces of information that were really enough for us to get started, for me to get started on.
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Wendy Lower: More deep research, but when we see this and we kind of deconstruct in this way or or parse it out in this way and my book.
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Wendy Lower: is structured along these lines of the elements of the photograph and what can be gleaned from them here's an important.
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Wendy Lower: aspect of the Holocaust if it's done outside the killing centers outside those gas chambers in these small communities, it is impacting that local terrain, it is part of the environmental history.
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Wendy Lower: Of these settings I mean down to a very more forensic level and geological level of victims, who are killed on Moss and buried what it does to that landscape what it does to the.
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Wendy Lower: To the actual you know composition of the soil and the terrain, the shape of the terrain.
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Wendy Lower: forensic kind of archaeology environmental history, the Germans use nature they put nature to work as part of the killing they use ravines they use swamps they use rivers and many of the victims, including the children.
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Wendy Lower: died in those pits they were they were buried alive, and so they died under the weight of the soil of their kin of the blood and that's, and that is part of the story, as well the history.
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Wendy Lower: And the killers, who are these killers I I was first drawn actually immediately to the killers because.
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Wendy Lower: I thought that they might, it was possible in 2009 that one of these individuals might still be alive and and that that was that became my priority in the first couple of years, is to try to track down the killers.
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Wendy Lower: and pursue the justice, on behalf of the victims who did not survive this massacre is striking that we have German men in uniform and I dissected their insignia.
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Wendy Lower: The bullets that callers their sleeves some markings on their sleeves and cuffs to try to figure out what the unit was the German killing unit there.
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Wendy Lower: And that brought me back into the kind of Nazi documentation, but Look how close they are next to these Ukrainians like shoulder to shoulder shooting simultaneously.
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Wendy Lower: They don't have they don't speak the same language these Germans have just arrived from.
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Wendy Lower: From the West, you know as part of the the Nazi invasion Soviet Union they're part of the military operations, they don't know these Ukrainians, these are all volunteer killers right here, they share the the The anti Semitic eight they share in this act of killing.
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Wendy Lower: And, and here we also have the smoke as another clue and the ballistics are important part of the history, because it is a crime scene photograph that we're looking at.
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Wendy Lower: And the smoke here indicates that there's shooting had occurred before these victims were brought to the edge of this pit.
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Wendy Lower: Because of the kind of HALO in here the the muzzle blast that pierces the smoke that have been hovering so there were victims that were killed before them as they came up to the pit was that victim who was murdered right before them could have been this man could have been a relative.
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Wendy Lower: The family at the Center of the photograph was really striking that the photographer chose to.
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Wendy Lower: Take a photo and crop it and develop it away in following this kind of rule of thirds here, showing the landscape, to the left, where the victims are going to fall into the pit.
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Wendy Lower: Having the family kind of at the Center and then the victim or sorry the killers over here to the right and there's the onlooker their witnesses in the local community could I go back to mirror poll Ukraine and find.
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Wendy Lower: Individuals who actually were at this mass murder sightseeing and actually participated in it, these were some of the first questions and also some of the past of research that I started to explore the aspects of this photo.
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Paul Salmons: Thank you Wendy is extraordinary extraordinary photo an extraordinary difficult to look at, of course, this sort of frozen moment.
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Paul Salmons: As all images are they have this kind of compelling evidential quality, because, of course, as opposed to an artistic representation.
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Paul Salmons: which can come from the imagination, for a photograph to exist it's been said, there are two things that is the kind of certificate of precedence right there has to.
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Paul Salmons: The actual scene has to have existed as well, because of the the mechanism of light passing through the camera lens and the quality of the photographic paper that renders this image to us so many decades later this one moment.
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Paul Salmons: Thank you for taking us through that and those in that kind of detail, you mentioned the perpetrators there and your first interest was in trying to track them down to try and identify them.
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Paul Salmons: One of the myths of the Holocaust, one of the common misconceptions is that the killers had no choice that if they refused in order to matter, they would be killed themselves.
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Paul Salmons: So i'd like to ask you, first of all, how did you uncover the identities of these killers, who is your process of the research and and what does the story that you uncovered reveal about the agency of the perpetrators themselves.
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Wendy Lower: Well, as it turns out, these Germans here were not part of what we think of as a regular.
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Wendy Lower: The perpetrator unit that fell under the command of Heinrich himmler who was you know hitler's right hand man and commanding all of the SS and police security.
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Wendy Lower: operations, and that was what you know the items as companies mobile killing units are probably the most well known of those perpetrators.
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Wendy Lower: And, and that initially I thought Oh, or the order, please, we have a story in Christopher browning wrote a book called ordinary men that brought out the fact that.
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Wendy Lower: The foot soldiers of the Holocaust, the real the legions of kind of shooters in these operations were mostly.
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Wendy Lower: These order police men these regular COPs who had been you know patrolling the streets of braman what have you.
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Wendy Lower: And there was an order police unit that went through miracle in September 41 and it was the same unit that went on to Bobby you are, and you know, so this is all.
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Wendy Lower: seeing this landscape here, for instance, the fact that book is called the ravine you know is is really trying to.
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Wendy Lower: touch on this reality and Ukraine, of the use of the ravine and these mobile killers and these order police killers and a kind of what we know about bad PR and then in fact.
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Wendy Lower: babby our Sep tember 41 over 33,000 Jews killed in two and a half days, two days, you know that there were many like many versions of Bab er and across across Ukraine.
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Wendy Lower: And, but it turns out that those smaller communities, like this one, Europol this this historic shuttle that the older police that we're at caviar.
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Wendy Lower: And went through this little town and they actually in this they kind of develop these process, these are techniques of mass shooting.
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Wendy Lower: Because they're highly organized its own its own kind of system that they developed in these smaller towns kind of leading up to these these bigger massacres about.
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Wendy Lower: Maybe 300 people were killed to 300 people, so the estimates of this massacre are not really clear so.
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Wendy Lower: That kind of history was known but it didn't square with these uniforms, the more I studied them and the more I looked at the chronology of October 41 when I could not place.
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Wendy Lower: Any of the real SS units or on such proven units or the this police unit they weren't there on October 13 1942 when I had that date, I had to stick with that date.
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Wendy Lower: Because the photographer you know new best and took the picture on that day and testify to that day.
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Wendy Lower: And so what happened was I.
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Wendy Lower: realized in the photographers description, because he did.
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Wendy Lower: Along with providing the date and the location of the photograph he mentioned one detail, which was really critical, he said that the Germans who were there, and he was close you could see standing close to the to the scene of the crime.
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Wendy Lower: where he called them finance guards he didn't say Gestapo or SS.
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Wendy Lower: or German soldiers very specific finance guards so, then I went back to the Finance Ministry completely different German agency that had trained for the campaign, the smelter and campaign.
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Wendy Lower: These customs guards who were supposed to be checking packages at the local train station or were working at the post office.
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Wendy Lower: And they were recruited on the spot, an SS officer came in the night before this happened, they were playing cards Scott in the local canteen on a Sunday night and the SS officer said.
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Wendy Lower: We hear, there is still Jews in this town what's going on here, you need to clean up your you know this this can't be there should be no more Jews in this town.
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Wendy Lower: And who's going to carry this out, it has to happen immediately and these German German killers here.
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Wendy Lower: stood up and said yeovil I volunteer I will I will do this tomorrow they saw it as an opportunity they were and, within that unit was a company actually almost 100 men in that, in that you know that was station a miracle these worth kind of the worst of the notorious anti Semites and.
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Wendy Lower: In that unit, and so it wasn't surprising when.
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Wendy Lower: These individuals stood up and said yes, you know i'm, and the reason why I know this is because in 1969 this photograph is sitting in in a in a.
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Wendy Lower: archive in Prague, you know behind the Iron Curtain Slovakian had taken it, and meanwhile in Germany in 1969 one of the Members of this German customers garden unit who's not in the photo who is not one of the killers decides as a retired.
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Wendy Lower: You know, retired from.
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Wendy Lower: He stayed in the customs as a working as a custom scarred after the war, and he retired and maybe he had a conscience.
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Wendy Lower: While he decided, he was going to go into his local police station near Hanover and and report a crime report a crime that had happened in 1941.
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Wendy Lower: In a small town called miracle and identified these killers, and so the West Germans.
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Wendy Lower: pursued this case rather perfunctorily but at least there was something there to determine to establish that, in fact, these were these people, they were there.
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Wendy Lower: On out they tracked down one of these killers, the other one could not be found and I had the benefit of the photograph that I could compare a while I was reading his testimony and, of course, he was just obfuscating denying lying I wasn't there you know.
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Wendy Lower: That you're the Ukrainians did all the killing, not the Germans i'm not in the SS and police so i'm not you know, this is not my job, you know these kinds of explanations and excuses.
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Paul Salmons: Right and then I do a nation notion that we have that the people who did take part had my choice, also, of course, comes partly from.
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Paul Salmons: The testimonies of of people facing trial after the war right that this was this would have been a good Defense to stand on if if it could have been shown that.
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Paul Salmons: People ordered to murder Jews who had refused were either shut themselves or Center concentration camps that this would be a good Defense in the trials after all.
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Wendy Lower: there's no evidence in this case of peer pressure following orders is now what they're trying to do.
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Wendy Lower: And they had they had kind of.
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Wendy Lower: escaped our attention because they weren't declarative kind of Nazi criminal organization after the war, they were just part of the Finance Ministry so.
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Wendy Lower: You know they went undetected and he didn't notice photo existed either.
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Paul Salmons: And, and to my understanding as well.
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Paul Salmons: When people did investigators did try to find such cases they haven't asked me to uncover the single case.
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Paul Salmons: of someone being shot for refusing a German officer or German policeman German soldier being shot for refusing to kill.
00:25:54.300 --> 00:26:07.020
Paul Salmons: Another this is, this is a myth, which has grown up which I wonder if it's such a fun reasons why we seize upon again enough collective imagination is that somehow that would make the atrocities themselves.
00:26:08.190 --> 00:26:10.770
Paul Salmons: easier for us to understand and to explain.
00:26:12.030 --> 00:26:23.400
Paul Salmons: We often tend to rely on either this notion that people had no choice whether they were mad evil psychopaths and yet the reality show in your book and through this study of these perpetrators.
00:26:23.790 --> 00:26:32.940
Paul Salmons: Somehow is a lot more horrifying rather this there's a lot of volunteerism that people chose to participate in the people on the whole we're not forced to.
00:26:33.690 --> 00:26:41.940
Paul Salmons: Because the authorities didn't need to force people to take to take part, there are enough willing killers amongst these ordinary men.
00:26:44.820 --> 00:26:45.450
Paul Salmons: So.
00:26:47.700 --> 00:26:54.690
Paul Salmons: Every time we look at a photograph however many people we see in that image.
00:26:55.920 --> 00:27:07.170
Paul Salmons: On suggested there are always two more people that are present the photographer and ourselves, and when you've shown us how we can be more than just a passive spectator to this see.
00:27:07.620 --> 00:27:17.130
Paul Salmons: How we can critically deconstruct it and you've guided us through how we can kind of read each element and and take it apart for meaning.
00:27:17.910 --> 00:27:35.610
Paul Salmons: But i'd like to also test something, then, about the photographer in the photographer's gaze how are you able to identify him, he was he Why did he take the photograph and did this, as you don't cover that story did that change your tool, how you were reading this image.
00:27:37.590 --> 00:27:42.510
Wendy Lower: This was the biggest really the biggest surprise of all and and.
00:27:43.710 --> 00:27:55.680
Wendy Lower: I was really pleased to have be able to write kind of his biography and figure out his story that's one of the reasons why I got into this project was an overall.
00:27:56.850 --> 00:28:02.580
Wendy Lower: concern about the use of such imagery and museums and in textbooks and and.
00:28:03.180 --> 00:28:05.730
Wendy Lower: Teaching and how do we handle them.
00:28:06.120 --> 00:28:18.090
Wendy Lower: And the fact that so many of these images were in circulation, without captions and without a deep knowledge of the people who took them of the photographers we have some information about Jewish photographer is definitely.
00:28:18.330 --> 00:28:24.060
Wendy Lower: From the ghettos some wonderful work done by some of my colleagues, but a lot of these.
00:28:25.920 --> 00:28:31.170
Wendy Lower: Images you know, knowing the photographer story is i'm going to share with you in a moment.
00:28:32.340 --> 00:28:43.470
Wendy Lower: is yet another dimension of this and also tests are assumptions of the history, so this is taking a close range is picture.
00:28:44.100 --> 00:28:46.890
Wendy Lower: it's a stable image is not taking clandestinely.
00:28:47.580 --> 00:28:53.700
Wendy Lower: So someone who's there, presumably with permission he's a Slovakian guard, as I told you in uniform.
00:28:53.940 --> 00:29:01.470
Wendy Lower: Before the victims, he just another one of the killers one another one of the gang if he's there with his uniform and even worse if they even noticed.
00:29:01.860 --> 00:29:09.240
Wendy Lower: humiliating them further by pulling out his camera and taking them at their last moment of death and and, and this is not how anyone.
00:29:09.960 --> 00:29:19.920
Wendy Lower: wants to die, and certainly not have anyone wants to be portrayed at the end of one's life for kind of posterity and it turns out that the photographer.
00:29:20.370 --> 00:29:31.650
Wendy Lower: was really here's the testimony that he gave in 1958 and he gave three testimonies in 4358 and 59 this was the testimony that this the two journalists from Prague.
00:29:32.040 --> 00:29:45.090
Wendy Lower: also brought with them that provide more information and an incredibly intelligent responsible man who here is telling us exactly and very clever that the camera that he was using.
00:29:46.230 --> 00:29:54.840
Wendy Lower: The model camera, which was important as well here is the actual camera that he used were able to track that down here's our here's our photographer.
00:29:55.740 --> 00:30:08.520
Wendy Lower: lubomir scrubbing a, as it turns out, was anti war anti political hated the Fascists did not want his son was was you know rick was forced into military service, it was.
00:30:11.460 --> 00:30:27.270
Wendy Lower: He was a young man able bodied man he had to he was recruited for operation Barbosa I was born in 1916 he died in 2005 and he was the company scribe of this kind of reinforcement.
00:30:27.720 --> 00:30:39.060
Wendy Lower: guard unit that came in, in the wake of the of the German advance in and they settled in these small towns, they were and he he was a company scribe and he was an avid photographer so he brought his.
00:30:39.420 --> 00:30:49.740
Wendy Lower: His handheld camera and when he was in the barracks that morning when it started the massacre started in the morning on that day, and her the shooting and the screams.
00:30:50.160 --> 00:31:02.880
Wendy Lower: and his commander said go check it out, and so we went with another one of the Slovakian guards his friend and that's when he started to take these pictures, but he took them as his turning point, it was.
00:31:03.510 --> 00:31:20.070
Wendy Lower: The moment in which he started to write letters back to his wife and explained to her i've had enough I, this is not the war, you can't believe what's happening here my my hair is turning Gray, my my mind is is is black.
00:31:20.850 --> 00:31:31.230
Wendy Lower: he's talking about drinking and you know just unable to continue on but also determined with his camera to document what was happening.
00:31:31.650 --> 00:31:37.890
Wendy Lower: and getting secretly getting extra rolls of film his wife was sending to him, through the mail.
00:31:38.580 --> 00:31:55.890
Wendy Lower: And he went back to Bratislava, he went back to his hometown a bunch of these streets so, which was the Center of Slovakian resistance and show these photos to Jews who hadn't been deported yet and warn them this is what's going to happen to you when you when you when you.
00:31:56.940 --> 00:31:57.540
Wendy Lower: show up.
00:31:58.560 --> 00:32:04.830
Wendy Lower: To the railway station, so he ended up actually hiding a Jewish family in his attic.
00:32:05.790 --> 00:32:24.090
Wendy Lower: And the man, the Jewish man was an Ob gyn and he actually delivered his son lubomir jr in 1943 he had a car, he was a technician at a radio shop and he was Curry a career for the resistance movement also bringing us to the forest to hide hide out in the forest.
00:32:25.290 --> 00:32:38.340
Wendy Lower: And, sadly, not all of those Jews survived and 44 when the Germans occupied and brought in yet another ions that's group to Slovakia, in this case in August 1944.
00:32:41.040 --> 00:32:47.880
Wendy Lower: here's lubomir this is, I got this from his family, they share this with me and on the backside he had written September.
00:32:48.450 --> 00:32:58.560
Wendy Lower: 17 1941 so here, he is man, Europol and noting the location, so that was another good source so here, he is in the town of miracle about a month.
00:32:59.430 --> 00:33:09.330
Wendy Lower: Before that mass shooting and he sees here in the Center, and this is in the photo studio and in miracle it's interesting at the Jewish community.
00:33:09.960 --> 00:33:21.570
Wendy Lower: Jewish man ran that photo studio in meeropol I wondered if he was actually in that location I don't know for sure, but it's just another interesting aspect of of this wartime photograph.
00:33:25.860 --> 00:33:26.790
Paul Salmons: Thank you, these.
00:33:28.620 --> 00:33:44.820
Paul Salmons: photographs them in terms of who he or she took the surgery often and for what purpose for reason, and I think disrupts that idea that we sometimes have when we look at an archival photos if they're kind of looking.
00:33:45.690 --> 00:33:54.150
Paul Salmons: Through a window in time we're looking directly back on the past, as it was, and I think what you're doing there is help remind us that actually we don't see.
00:33:54.450 --> 00:34:02.610
Paul Salmons: The past through a kind of window we through see through the eyes of the person who took that photo through their camera lens their frame that moment they've.
00:34:03.000 --> 00:34:13.500
Paul Salmons: chosen that particular second they're composed, in that way means something to them, and so the meaning shifts doesn't it very much that when we think that this might be.
00:34:14.280 --> 00:34:19.140
Paul Salmons: A collaborative we think this is a perpetrator is this a kind of memento of.
00:34:19.590 --> 00:34:37.140
Paul Salmons: of actions that can be willingly done is very different, for us, then seeing an image through the eyes of someone who was shaken by those events and and then later on risked his own life to resist against them it's an extraordinary story that you uncovered there.
00:34:38.220 --> 00:34:47.940
Wendy Lower: yeah the power of the photograph as we analyze and understand that it's capturing that moment, historically and our return to that moment, and our investigation a moment.
00:34:48.330 --> 00:34:54.270
Wendy Lower: But the power of the photograph as it kind of moves it's got its own agency as far as what it does.
00:34:54.900 --> 00:35:04.650
Wendy Lower: in the hands of the photographer as he shows it to the Jewish community as he's questioned about it after the war, as these journalists come to Washington with this photograph.
00:35:04.950 --> 00:35:14.520
Wendy Lower: And then I pick up on it now we're all looking at it and studying and people have written to me with more discoveries, you know as they've analyzed it more closely in the book.
00:35:15.300 --> 00:35:29.070
Wendy Lower: But he took the photos he he took more than one the camera model that size icon could handle the film that he was using like maybe nine I don't know about most tennis exposures.
00:35:29.490 --> 00:35:37.620
Wendy Lower: And I Paul I shared some with you as well, there are at least five and the archives, I went back to Prague, obviously, to go these original files.
00:35:38.040 --> 00:35:52.500
Wendy Lower: And it's clear that he took them in a way to show us as a visual testimony as a visual narration the process, and this is, we have this and other photographs as well and Nazi photo albums and to.
00:35:53.160 --> 00:36:02.220
Wendy Lower: To show, step by step, the Jews who resisted on the path and then, finally, the image from above, of the victims, you know, in the in the pit.
00:36:02.940 --> 00:36:16.320
Wendy Lower: So there's a lot of analysis, these days on testimony audio visual testimony written testimony diaries and in the book I try to talk I try to bring out the value of of these kinds of visual testimonies.
00:36:16.950 --> 00:36:28.470
Wendy Lower: That these photographers who are going to call them today kind of human rights photographers that they're trying to document the violation, so that it can be used to to overcome it and prevent.
00:36:29.370 --> 00:36:41.280
Paul Salmons: So, given, given that, when the question asked by man's can teach on uneven heightened importance, given that some photographers at least couldn't be doing this.
00:36:41.940 --> 00:36:52.020
Paul Salmons: kind of resistance purpose makes us why would the killers have been Okay, with a photographer capturing them slightly any speculative but what are your thoughts on that.
00:36:52.830 --> 00:37:03.120
Wendy Lower: Well we're in another element of this historically is that it's the era of the kind of explosion of the consumption, the manufacturing consumption of a handheld camera.
00:37:03.480 --> 00:37:11.880
Wendy Lower: In the 20s and 30s the First World War, we have some obviously the very famous battle of the song moving moving footage footage from the First World War and.
00:37:12.180 --> 00:37:19.020
Wendy Lower: and also a lot of stills a lot of photography of the troops and turned into postcards and all that, so there is a whole visual.
00:37:19.410 --> 00:37:27.330
Wendy Lower: archive from the First World War, but it's mostly official photography is now you know ordinary soldiers with handheld cameras, but with the leica.
00:37:27.810 --> 00:37:32.280
Wendy Lower: And in this icon being patented in the 20s and 30s the.
00:37:32.850 --> 00:37:44.610
Wendy Lower: Ordinary soldiers ordinary folks were hobby photographers and and luminaries part of that whole trend he had I looked at his personal papers and he was reading these hobby photography magazines and.
00:37:45.060 --> 00:37:50.340
Wendy Lower: and learning about how to develop your own pictures and all of that, and the Nazis themselves were.
00:37:50.790 --> 00:38:00.240
Wendy Lower: Promoting the use of the camera for ordinary soldiers, this is an advertisement from a military magazine, it says the optical Panzer they are you know this, promoting fact that this.
00:38:00.810 --> 00:38:06.540
Wendy Lower: camera is going to withstand trap nolan warfare and it's around those the neck of the German there.
00:38:06.900 --> 00:38:19.770
Wendy Lower: And it's part of how the German you know interacts with the home front there's the postcard and the care package you know and here's another one if the odd for photo companies saying the photos or a bridge between.
00:38:20.310 --> 00:38:33.150
Wendy Lower: You and the kind of the home front, so, while the Germans and Goebbels and the propaganda ministry we're embedding photo journalists and producing these visual record of the war for propaganda purposes, and it was supposed to.
00:38:33.690 --> 00:38:38.670
Wendy Lower: You know, be this triumphant moment that everyone could celebrate and remember through these images.
00:38:40.350 --> 00:38:48.630
Wendy Lower: They were at the same time front frantically issuing orders as soon as the mass murder start as soon as the atrocities were so widespread as of December 41.
00:38:50.400 --> 00:38:58.890
Wendy Lower: Do not take photos of the atrocities and they will be confiscated and these orders were issued and reissue till the end of the war, so they could not control that.
00:38:59.220 --> 00:39:06.450
Wendy Lower: They knew it was going to fall into the hands of state of Polish underground they knew that these atrocity images were going to get be circulating back in the right.
00:39:07.740 --> 00:39:11.610
Wendy Lower: be developed back in the right, so there was this some you know.
00:39:12.900 --> 00:39:24.300
Wendy Lower: Contradictory kind of countervailing type of reality of let's document our trial, but but not everything not not the not the actual mass murder, that is.
00:39:25.380 --> 00:39:29.790
Wendy Lower: Part of the policy of the conquest of the war, the official policy.
00:39:31.290 --> 00:39:39.360
Paul Salmons: Right and there was a there was a question from Freddie about how many ravines like this, whether I think essential speaking to that.
00:39:39.780 --> 00:39:52.440
Paul Salmons: Also, because there were just so many hundreds, thousands of examples of this over thousands of square miles every town and village where Jewish people might reside with combed.
00:39:53.400 --> 00:40:05.100
Paul Salmons: Because of this, the totality of this genocide this this intense on killing every last Jewish man, woman and child everywhere, because of the number of a very small.
00:40:06.540 --> 00:40:21.630
Paul Salmons: Number of photographs I This obviously were taken, we won't have them all, of course, they were more than we actually have come to my knowledge, but it's a relatively it's a tiny number of these images that we have right out of the huge number of killings that were taking place.
00:40:21.990 --> 00:40:31.110
Wendy Lower: Exactly the huge disproportion the image that we've been studying there, there is a ravine and meeropol and the first time I visited their.
00:40:32.430 --> 00:40:43.980
Wendy Lower: Local person took me to that ravine I was the first place, she took me to and and in fact it was by the river in part of is because of the environmental history, you have this landscape of rivers.
00:40:45.600 --> 00:40:46.020
Wendy Lower: You know.
00:40:47.100 --> 00:40:50.400
Wendy Lower: And and and valleys and you know natural kind of.
00:40:51.690 --> 00:41:02.610
Wendy Lower: elevation for carrying out this this event, you know, to have someone standing at the precipice and then they would often use like a polar stick or just kick them into the pit but.
00:41:04.140 --> 00:41:13.200
Wendy Lower: Not every town had a ravine they were digging a lot of the picture that we're looking at was actually, that was a dug out mass grave, but they also used the.
00:41:14.280 --> 00:41:26.220
Wendy Lower: Anti tank ditches you know, is part of the process was surveying of the local terrain are talking to people locally and trying to find that location at the edge of town.
00:41:27.120 --> 00:41:38.220
Wendy Lower: But yeah there are hundreds of these mass murder sites that Father dubois and others have identified and interviewed thousands of witnesses who have.
00:41:39.750 --> 00:41:55.650
Wendy Lower: stood at those sites and given testimony as to what occurred at those sites across Ukraine one out of every fourth victim of the Holocaust as as in those who died in the Holocaust, because their survival rate Ukraine was very low.
00:41:57.660 --> 00:42:08.430
Wendy Lower: residing and what are the borders of Ukraine today so that's the kind of you know typography of the Holocaust by bullets as as Polish describing.
00:42:11.010 --> 00:42:21.990
Paul Salmons: Thank you and and Wendy live we've considered that image from our own perspective and you've given us that guided reading through what we can detect when we don't so closely.
00:42:22.560 --> 00:42:29.640
Paul Salmons: With identified the killers, we now know who the photographer was his motivation and His story.
00:42:30.300 --> 00:42:42.300
Paul Salmons: But still, the victims at the moment, remain anonymous to us they're they're almost not quite but almost without any agency at all in this moment of death not quite without agency, because even in.
00:42:42.810 --> 00:42:51.960
Paul Salmons: The moment of death, the woman shields a child, on her lap he holds the hand of the young boy, and I think you told me in another photograph.
00:42:52.440 --> 00:42:55.140
Paul Salmons: You identifying the pit actually their hands of.
00:42:55.830 --> 00:43:11.040
Paul Salmons: Women in the child is still class together, even in death, so there is some Agency a tiny amount there yet still they remain anonymous and what I want to ask you is why was it important for you to really know who these people were.
00:43:11.610 --> 00:43:16.710
Paul Salmons: What did it mean to you to uncover the lives of the murder of people and how did you go about this.
00:43:18.810 --> 00:43:22.560
Wendy Lower: Well, as I mentioned before looking at an image like this and murder.
00:43:23.580 --> 00:43:24.180
Wendy Lower: Wanting to.
00:43:25.260 --> 00:43:33.540
Wendy Lower: pursue the perpetrators, first and foremost, but restore the lives of of the murdered of these victims because it's.
00:43:33.990 --> 00:43:48.630
Wendy Lower: it's so it's it's to look at an image like this is so outrageous and offends us It shames us it breaks our heart and what can you do, as far as redress, you know there's historical justice but there's more symbolic.
00:43:50.640 --> 00:43:51.870
Wendy Lower: In my in my mind.
00:43:52.950 --> 00:44:09.120
Wendy Lower: and real not just symbolic, but real need to to name those victims and try to understand their lives, not understand their deaths, but understand their lives and what was lost also maybe by identifying your names find their relatives or any survivors.
00:44:10.350 --> 00:44:10.950
Wendy Lower: and
00:44:12.150 --> 00:44:25.020
Wendy Lower: Put a human beings life face story to what is otherwise have a massive event of you know where we talk about millions of Bab er or millions who died worse or 6 million.
00:44:25.590 --> 00:44:34.260
Wendy Lower: And so, for me to bring it down, especially to the family unit, because, as I looked into this more and thought about.
00:44:34.920 --> 00:44:41.310
Wendy Lower: The experience of genocide or the history of genocide that aspect of of of the family.
00:44:42.090 --> 00:44:57.210
Wendy Lower: Whether the genocide years as Hitler said in the summer of 41 when this was exploding across Ukraine every Jewish family has to be removed from the continent of Europe, and he used the word family when he was talking to his Slovak Croatian ally.
00:44:57.900 --> 00:45:01.200
Wendy Lower: Because there they had a very it's a racist and she.
00:45:03.120 --> 00:45:13.140
Wendy Lower: program that seeks root and branch on geologically to eradicate important hire people it's that that biological thinking that racial thinking.
00:45:13.590 --> 00:45:18.660
Wendy Lower: And the family unit was seen as the procreative unit, like the if that would be wiped out.
00:45:19.080 --> 00:45:25.290
Wendy Lower: Then there'd be no future generations and Hitler and himmler said, and if they have children survive or any.
00:45:25.680 --> 00:45:31.230
Wendy Lower: Any relatives survive, they are going to avenge the deaths of their of their brothers and their mothers and fathers and.
00:45:31.530 --> 00:45:37.410
Wendy Lower: And so they that for the final for their notion of a final solution, as they call it, that was an important element.
00:45:38.010 --> 00:45:44.910
Wendy Lower: And for those who experienced the Holocaust just the absolute if it's a crime of all crimes, then a horrible ours.
00:45:45.210 --> 00:45:50.550
Wendy Lower: is to be killed with your family members and to witness that and they're torture or to die within it's just.
00:45:50.970 --> 00:45:59.760
Wendy Lower: everyone's biggest nightmare, and so that to me was in trying to understand kind of the ultimate of what genocide is the family, part of the story.
00:46:00.480 --> 00:46:12.240
Wendy Lower: I thought was important to stress, and so, but, but how does one research that first of all they're great websites like Jewish Jen that were really important so there's wonderful community of.
00:46:12.750 --> 00:46:22.290
Wendy Lower: Of descendants and second generation third generation now or trying to keep their family histories alive or reconstruct them and they were really helpful.
00:46:22.770 --> 00:46:31.080
Wendy Lower: But we have documentation from the archives itself, this was the Soviet attempt immediately when the miracle was reoccupied 44 liberated.
00:46:31.890 --> 00:46:43.050
Wendy Lower: They put these lists together and working off these lists trying to see these family units, these are the surnames, you can see, the birth dates here, you can see children, you can see, really elderly can see single names, you can see widows.
00:46:43.500 --> 00:46:53.070
Wendy Lower: And, and so I the photo you couldn't see the age of the woman, but the boy right so that was easier determined, so I started to look at.
00:46:53.730 --> 00:46:57.720
Wendy Lower: Some of these lists to try to see if I could find a family unit.
00:46:58.410 --> 00:47:07.500
Wendy Lower: find a child, you know someone born between 3538 or 30 nice he's walking as a toddler and work that way down these lists which are incomplete.
00:47:07.740 --> 00:47:14.010
Wendy Lower: There we don't have a full list of the victim so we're working from incomplete sources but that's all we have so.
00:47:14.550 --> 00:47:23.010
Wendy Lower: that's that's what I just pursued that and went to the admission, and these are the pages of testimony to see if Maybe someone had reported the missing and.
00:47:23.520 --> 00:47:30.930
Wendy Lower: starting to think about well what if there's nobody left to report someone missing and the notion of of genocide, and then you have the missing missing.
00:47:31.890 --> 00:47:40.890
Wendy Lower: That we're trying to identify and especially the children, and this was a photograph that popped up on the screen, it was attached to a page of testimony.
00:47:41.520 --> 00:47:49.140
Wendy Lower: And these is a testimony about Jews and meeropol who've been murdered in the park in 1941 so it was very close to our.
00:47:49.590 --> 00:48:10.380
Wendy Lower: Our photos for us what that is that history there and remarkably this this family photograph attached to it, which is super rare the archivist told me less than 1% of the pages of testimonies have wartime photos and certainly not family portraits like this, and this was incredibly beautiful.
00:48:11.610 --> 00:48:27.540
Wendy Lower: If I could call it that beautiful, because it is not like the one we've been studying it's a photo of a Jewish what's left of the Jewish family, women and children in 1941 taken at that studio I believe in meeropol where were a few months later.
00:48:28.710 --> 00:48:31.740
Wendy Lower: Luba were had his picture taken that I just showed you.
00:48:32.700 --> 00:48:39.930
Wendy Lower: And and there, that is, that little boy's face there and that sailor suit and it just so reminded me of the boy in the picture and.
00:48:40.230 --> 00:48:52.020
Wendy Lower: And here's this other child and, if you look at the picture closely and this woman, maybe she's bending over in a perpendicular way and we'll go back to that looks like there's another child on her laugh.
00:48:52.920 --> 00:49:06.990
Wendy Lower: about this size and build, but this is how these are the vessel your family wanted to be remembered, at the very at the very end, actually they'd already lost their husbands, and this was during the occupation.
00:49:11.850 --> 00:49:25.110
Paul Salmons: Thank you, is an extraordinarily important and powerful images that we often left with the the image again in our collective imagination of the Holocaust is just the heaps of courses that.
00:49:25.740 --> 00:49:40.410
Paul Salmons: We know from the liberation of Bergen belsen other sites or the anonymous victims and the fact that you've been able to recover who Apps these people and to show us their faces as they saw themselves.
00:49:40.590 --> 00:49:50.520
Wendy Lower: yeah and here i'm showing the image to the Ukrainians were alive during the war and had Jewish classmates or worked in the paper factory and remembered.
00:49:50.970 --> 00:50:01.410
Wendy Lower: You know the Jewish the Jewish colleagues and and just bringing this photograph around to that community to stir up their imagination their memories of their Jewish neighbors.
00:50:02.400 --> 00:50:10.860
Wendy Lower: Then that triggered more recollections of names of Jews in that community to add to the list so again the photograph as a kind of.
00:50:12.990 --> 00:50:16.650
Wendy Lower: Force for for memory for collecting more information.
00:50:17.970 --> 00:50:27.960
Paul Salmons: And as you're taking us back there to the present day that the same community today stephanie's asked is there a marker of any kind in America.
00:50:30.000 --> 00:50:37.650
Wendy Lower: Oh yes, there are actually no there is not a marker at the site of the mass murder, this is.
00:50:38.730 --> 00:50:48.360
Wendy Lower: A typical Soviet moment of the Second World War, not referring specifically to the Jews, but to kind of all peaceful Soviet citizens universally using the victims.
00:50:48.660 --> 00:51:01.650
Wendy Lower: But this is this was the heart of meeropol historically where the Jewish community resided used to be a very vibrant marketplace, you can see, buildings are missing here now it's it's pretty.
00:51:02.940 --> 00:51:09.420
Wendy Lower: desolate, and this is, this is what it looks like now, after a century of Stalin ization.
00:51:12.210 --> 00:51:24.780
Wendy Lower: Genocide Soviet ization and the collapse of Soviet Union, and now war in Ukraine a Russian occupation so forth, so this is a contemporary image in when the.
00:51:26.490 --> 00:51:35.490
Wendy Lower: Soviets pursued their justice in this case, which came late in 8586 during kind of glasnost perestroika era.
00:51:35.880 --> 00:51:42.930
Wendy Lower: They tracked down there was kind of success in that story, as far as tracking down those Ukrainians in the photograph.
00:51:43.650 --> 00:51:59.790
Wendy Lower: who were arrested and tried in 85 and two of the three Ukrainian killers are actually executed in 1986 one of them was given a 15 year jail sentence, he was a youth during the time of the when he committed the murder.
00:52:00.240 --> 00:52:03.540
Wendy Lower: And at that in in conjunction with that Soviet trial.
00:52:04.260 --> 00:52:17.940
Wendy Lower: which was a very extensive investigation thousands and thousands of pages impressively put together these sketches and maps of what happened that day, and these arrows show the path that you took and down here is the actual crime scene.
00:52:19.260 --> 00:52:28.470
Wendy Lower: And here are the here are the records of the one this is one of the defendants, so this is one of the men of the Ukrainians who's pictured in the image, there is there's his arrest photo his fingerprints.
00:52:30.090 --> 00:52:34.020
Wendy Lower: And, in conjunction with an investigation, the.
00:52:35.340 --> 00:52:49.380
Wendy Lower: Soviets carried out an exclamation because they needed to find the bones of the victims, as part of the trial and they went into the forest here the the defendants now show them or this occurred.
00:52:50.610 --> 00:53:04.380
Wendy Lower: And we follow that path i'm here with the team with your heart and we want them to go back and to see what we're going to discover, and in fact the landscape, as I mentioned earlier on, was very visibly disrupted, we have.
00:53:04.800 --> 00:53:22.140
Wendy Lower: odd Mounds vegetation is is scarred it was it's a strange place to stand in the forest and in fact we even just went down into the muck of the leaves and started to.
00:53:23.220 --> 00:53:35.460
Wendy Lower: Remove the search under the surface and immediately found bones, and we found vertebrae and we found skull fragments because during the exclamation in 85 for the trial, the.
00:53:36.390 --> 00:53:47.940
Wendy Lower: They brought in some pretty heavy machinery to conduct that and completely overturned the mass grave using the the you know the tractors and whatnot.
00:53:48.630 --> 00:53:57.630
Wendy Lower: And so that's why those bones came to the surface, but it remains unprotected this site I reported it to.
00:53:58.440 --> 00:54:11.610
Wendy Lower: my German colleagues who work at the dank mall in Berlin and, unfortunately, they are unable to kind of coordinate off and erect a monument there, and the fact is it's not that they don't want to it's just that they have.
00:54:12.480 --> 00:54:17.610
Wendy Lower: Hundreds of sites, now that they're trying they're trying to preserve and.
00:54:19.020 --> 00:54:24.300
Wendy Lower: I know it's not like an excuse, but it's, the reality is that there are many of these sites and this particular site.
00:54:24.660 --> 00:54:33.540
Wendy Lower: is part of US military base it would involve negotiations with the Ukrainian Government it's also very already extremely disrupted.
00:54:34.350 --> 00:54:40.530
Wendy Lower: And they were having problems with the ground penetrating radar, and so they were hesitant, you know reluctant to even.
00:54:40.890 --> 00:54:48.180
Wendy Lower: start that but during that exclamation some of the bones in the victims were brought to another location and a memorial was.
00:54:49.050 --> 00:55:07.200
Wendy Lower: erected in town near the river, you can see it today and Jews came back from family members who had emigrated before the war from Canada, Israel and they participated in that service, and so there was a re burial of the some of the Jewish bones in an in a memorial location.
00:55:09.570 --> 00:55:17.460
Paul Salmons: Thank you, so I know we're very short of time now and there's so many questions that have come flooding, so I apologize to those that.
00:55:17.910 --> 00:55:28.200
Paul Salmons: Whose questions we haven't been able to get to your energy to to read the book, for your answer, the answers to your questions, almost certainly will be in that remarkable work.
00:55:30.000 --> 00:55:35.400
Paul Salmons: step, there is a question from Deborah, though, about whether any survivors.
00:55:36.870 --> 00:55:52.080
Paul Salmons: And I know you look to that in your in your book perhaps that something to to speak to, and then you could look with this image of the shoes, so perhaps we should, after you've answered that also in this talk with those images also.
00:55:54.300 --> 00:55:54.570
00:55:56.040 --> 00:56:19.350
Wendy Lower: I know of one survivor who gave testimony live nila blackman and I draw heavily from her account she crawled out of the pit and then miraculously survived three years of the Odyssey of being in hiding and being arrested interrogated and living in the forest, and so the survivor.
00:56:21.630 --> 00:56:31.800
Wendy Lower: The rate in Ukraine is incredibly low one little 1% in places 3% the assault was so rapid in so thorough.
00:56:32.820 --> 00:56:48.360
Wendy Lower: That as a genocide errs wish to just wanted there to be no traces and a commando unit came back in and and sometimes disinterred some of these graves and burn the ground, the bones and burn the victims remains and cremated them and it just.
00:56:50.700 --> 00:56:58.200
Wendy Lower: was really so difficult for an ordinary person to survive the so dependent on the local population.
00:56:59.280 --> 00:57:05.520
Wendy Lower: to shelter and clothe and feed them to have to sustain that over the years is really.
00:57:06.780 --> 00:57:14.610
Wendy Lower: nearly impossible, most of the survivors who came from Ukraine were able to kind of evacuated early on in the war.
00:57:15.540 --> 00:57:22.560
Wendy Lower: Get out of that Ray to go South into Romania, there were Transdniestria, there were ghettos, there were one could hide.
00:57:23.430 --> 00:57:40.380
Wendy Lower: Go to the forest maybe join a partisan unit, some have survived who were deported to camps, but if one were had to remain it on that terrain, as I described it, the borders of Ukraine today was very, very difficult to survive.
00:57:45.300 --> 00:57:49.050
Paul Salmons: And the image of the shoes that you're leaving us with here.
00:57:50.460 --> 00:57:57.780
Wendy Lower: Well, it was interesting somebody brought this up, because it was it was the highlighting kind of image, although it's not the central.
00:57:58.470 --> 00:58:05.250
Wendy Lower: In the Center of the photograph I was pleased as somebody else all kind of kind of picked up on that I think it's because it's part of.
00:58:05.910 --> 00:58:13.800
Wendy Lower: Both are memorial culture and I showed a slide before of the shoes on the Dan you over the shoes shoes on display it Birkenau.
00:58:14.400 --> 00:58:24.120
Wendy Lower: But this this just the power of these empty shoes actually as a metaphor of loss and silence is not purely a postwar kind of phenomenon actually.
00:58:24.810 --> 00:58:38.010
Wendy Lower: Abraham a huge poet Abraham sutzkever and written of home in 1943 and January 43 called a load of shoes and you wrote it upon the discovery of his deported mother's shoes and the Vilna ghetto.
00:58:38.430 --> 00:58:49.620
Wendy Lower: And it's beautiful I just read a few stanzas the So this is the poem sutzkever the feet from these boots with buttons outside or these with no body.
00:58:50.070 --> 00:59:02.760
Wendy Lower: or these with no bride where is the child who fit in these is the maiden barefoot who bought these slippers and pumps look there are my mother's per Sabbath pair in with the others.
00:59:03.840 --> 00:59:12.570
Wendy Lower: insists cavers comb empty boots slippers and pumps exists somewhere between the living and the dead among the children maidens and brides at a wedding or observing Sabbath.
00:59:12.960 --> 00:59:20.100
Wendy Lower: His shoes dance and patter they stimulate our ability to imagine the past and provide poetic testimony to the lies of the where's.
00:59:20.520 --> 00:59:31.380
Wendy Lower: Unlike those haunts him, but a nerd objects, we see today enshrined behind glass and Birkenau or bronze on it as a memorial alongside the Danube river in Budapest.
00:59:31.980 --> 00:59:39.660
Wendy Lower: Like flood testimonies and memories photographs can mislead because they can never completely capture the reality of the event pictured are those involved.
00:59:40.140 --> 00:59:46.320
Wendy Lower: The Jewish man who was murdered, perhaps with his family is not there, although his empty shoes and crumbled code remain.
00:59:46.710 --> 00:59:52.080
Wendy Lower: We cannot see me on the frame of the image we can't turn 360 degrees, to take in the entire setting.
00:59:52.350 --> 00:59:59.850
Wendy Lower: A victims waiting to be killed other possible onlookers, including our Slovakian photographer and his comrades and more German officials.
01:00:00.150 --> 01:00:08.310
Wendy Lower: The papers strewn among the amid the bullet casings at the edge of the mass grave could be a good to be German lists are Jewish identity documents.
01:00:09.210 --> 01:00:13.110
Wendy Lower: atrocity images, especially the rare ones that attest to the acts.
01:00:13.500 --> 01:00:20.310
Wendy Lower: of genocide, the crime of all crimes offend and Seamus when we turn away from them, we promote ignorance.
01:00:20.520 --> 01:00:36.270
Wendy Lower: When we display them in museums, without captions and download download from them from the Internet with no historical context we denigrate the victims, and when we stop researching them we cease to care about historical justice, the threat of genocide and the murdered missing.
01:00:37.470 --> 01:00:37.950
Wendy Lower: Thank you.
01:00:39.630 --> 01:00:54.270
Paul Salmons: Thank you Wendy just to say, although, as you as you remember, there were not able to look beyond the frame of the photo just in that one photograph and that one perhaps 100th of a second, that is captured there.
01:00:55.110 --> 01:01:03.480
Paul Salmons: Today you have obviously given us a vast landscape, of course, so thank you so much for such a powerful moving and.
01:01:04.410 --> 01:01:15.330
Paul Salmons: I thought provoking talk i'm sure others who will go to your book and seek more airy I know just like to pass back to you and, again, thank you for inviting me it's been a privilege to be part of this Thank you.
01:01:16.200 --> 01:01:16.560
Wendy Lower: Thank you.
01:01:18.000 --> 01:01:27.900
Ari Goldstein: amazing to learn from you both Wendy and Paul, thank you, thank you for being here, I do want to reinforce what Paul said, which is that we didn't get it, he has to get to a lot of questions but that's.
01:01:28.560 --> 01:01:36.840
Ari Goldstein: really what when he gets into in detail in the books, we hope you guys will order it of the link in the zoom chat and we have have really.
01:01:37.290 --> 01:01:51.360
Ari Goldstein: paid attention to trying to program more around the Holocaust by bullets and some of the untold stories of the Holocaust Museum Jewish heritage so stay with us and upon our mailing list and at future events, and we hope to continue the discussion.
01:01:52.530 --> 01:01:55.740
Ari Goldstein: I also want to mention that we have a program is Thursday about a.
01:01:56.910 --> 01:02:08.100
Ari Goldstein: Different moment of sort of public racial violence and we're we're exploring the uniting 21 Tulsa race massacre it's one of the largest instance of racial violence in American history.
01:02:08.400 --> 01:02:15.570
Ari Goldstein: And that's this Thursday evening and we're looking at the similarities and differences between that and anti Semitic violence against US and Europe so.
01:02:16.110 --> 01:02:32.010
Ari Goldstein: We hope that you guys will join us for that discussion also about a somewhat unknown or not widely enough known moment of our own history here so and the link to that and to all of our work at the museum, which we hope you will support it is at the is in the zoom chat.
01:02:33.390 --> 01:02:36.390
Ari Goldstein: Wendy and Paul Thank you so much again and say well.
01:02:38.880 --> 01:02:39.660
Take care everyone.
We would like to express our appreciation to the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany (Claims Conference) for supporting this public program. Through recovering the assets of the victims of the Holocaust, the Claims Conference enables organizations around the world to provide education about the Shoah and to preserve the memory of those who perished.