Page 101 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 37

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HIRSCH / JEWS IN BOOKS OF PHOTOGRAPHY
93
p o r tra it camera, and fea tu res many “em anc ipated” Jews who, at
least to the eye, had shifted the ir allegiance from the world o f
their
fathers, to E u ropean “ku ltu r .” T h e pho tog raphs Hubm ann has
assembled dem onstra te the inhe ren t problem o f assimilation:
most o f the people who show up in his book hard ly
look
Jewish.
This paradox o f modernity repeats itself in C a therine H au f No-
ren ’s
The Camera of My Family
(New York, 1976), an historical
narrative which is built a round a few generations o f family pho ­
tographs, and which docum en ts the tragic ease with which Jews
accepted G erman cu lture as th e ir own. In the old world, as in the
new, the family whose experiences are reco rded in the Noren
volume never appear do ing something uniquely Jewish. H ere are
no pious g rand fa the rs bowed over dusty tomes, no fore-locked
boys, no kerchiefed mothers. Instead , we find lovers o f fine china
and connoisseurs o f good fu rn itu re and pleasant mountain re ­
sorts. And yet the ir annals were as maimed by the Holocaust as
those o f the
shtetl
Jews whose dark eyes cry to us ou t o f the work o f
Kipnis, Kaczyne and Vishniac. T he same paradoxes o f identity
linger in Sigmund F reud ’s home whose rooms full o f discreet
elegance have been p ic tured in Edmund Engelman’s^erpwme
19
(New York, 1977).
HOLOCAUST RECORD
Centuries o f Jewish communal life in Europe ended in 1939.
But not Jewish pho tographs. T he suffering and destruction o f
Jews are vastly docum en ted , and some o f the most haun ting
images were taken by the Germans themselves whose cameras
clicked so indefatigably tha t the re are today enough pho tographs
o f anguish and dea th to fill the archives o f Warsaw, Yad Va-shem,
YIVO, the Library o f Congress and numerous memorial collec­
tions. T he ho r ro r o f these pho tographs defies aesthetic response.
One o f the last labors o f Zosa Szajkowski o f YIVO was to compile
an
Illustrated Sourcebook on the Holocaust
(New York, 1978. Two
more volumes are due in the late Spring o f 1979). T he images, as
the title implies, are documentary . They provide a visual account­
ing o f the very processes — bureaucratic and technological —
with which millions o f lives were destroyed. Szajkowski’s work
represents an enormous effo rt a t compilation bu t its effect is like
that o f statistical charts: it numbs. Mendel Grossman’s
With a
Camera in the Ghetto,
which first appeared with a Hebrew commen­