Imperial War Museum unveils details of Shoah galleries and JN survivor exhibit
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Imperial War Museum unveils details of Shoah galleries and JN survivor exhibit

Photography exhibition will be hosted in partnership with the Royal Photographic Society, HMD and Jewish News, featuring portraits by the Duchess of Cambridge

Stephen is the Jewish News' Foreign Editor

Steven Frank, 84, who survived multiple concentration camps as a child but lost his father at Auschwitz, alongside his granddaughters Maggie and Trixie Fleet, aged 15 and 13.
Steven Frank, 84, who survived multiple concentration camps as a child but lost his father at Auschwitz, alongside his granddaughters Maggie and Trixie Fleet, aged 15 and 13.

Imperial War Museums has given the public its first glimpse of the new Holocaust Galleries in London while revealing that it will host an historic photography exhibition in partnership with Jewish News.

In an announcement on Thursday morning, IWM unveiled its much-anticipated 2021 programme, showed how its permanent Shoah exhibit is being built, and explained that JN-commissioned portraits of survivors will take centre stage.

“We’re delighted to confirm that IWM London will host a photography exhibition in partnership with the Royal Photographic Society (RPS), [the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust] and Jewish News, sharing 75 portraits of Holocaust survivors with their children and grandchildren,” said IWM’s director of content Gill Webber.

“Each of the portraits depicts the special connection between a survivor and younger generations of their family, who over the coming years will carry the legacy of their parents and grandparents.”

Artist’s impression of the exhibit

The exhibition, sponsored by Dangoor Education, “also aims to inspire visitors across the UK of our collective responsibility to remember and share stories about those who endured conflict and persecution. It is intended to open next summer and remain in-place while we open our Second World War and Holocaust Galleries next autumn.”

The portraits were commissioned to mark 75 years since the end of the Holocaust, in collaboration with the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust, and released last January. Of the 75 portraits, two were taken by RPS patron the Duchess of Cambridge.

Kate, who visited Stutthof concentration camp during her visit to Poland in 2017, photographed Steven Frank, originally from Amsterdam, and Yvonne Bernstein, originally from Germany. She later said: “Their stories will stay with me forever.”

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge visit the former Nazi concentration camp at Stutthof, near Gdansk, on the second day of their three-day tour of Poland.
Photo credit: Bruce Adams/Daily Mail/PA Wire

With a behind-the-scenes look at the museum’s new permanent and “ground-breaking” Shoah exhibition, IWM Holocaust Galleries content leader and historian James Bulgin showed how they were still under construction.

“This is the first time that we’ve been able to show the space to anyone outside the teams who are building it,” he said. “Next year they’ll be filled with previously unseen objects, untold stories and unheard voices that will help our visitors understand the most devastating global conflict in modern history.”

Special Jewish News Holocaust Memorial Day edition featuring a portrait by the Duchess of Cambridge

The new space already includes a V1 flying bomb, built by slave labourers in the camps. It is one of more than 2,000 objects the team needs to move, interpret and display before autumn 2021.

“These Galleries are desperately needed,” said Bulgin. “The war and Holocaust will soon pass out of living memory, leaving us without the first-hand testimony of veterans, eyewitnesses and survivors. We need to preserve their stories and ensure the world never forgets what they experienced.”

Webber said IWM would be launching “an innovative new learning programme to coincide with the launch of these new Galleries, for schoolchildren aged 13 and up”.

Designed by digital studios and award-winning playwrights, she said the programme “will use technology, story-telling and IWM’s collections to encourage reflection, discussion and understanding of the Holocaust, both at IWM London and online”.

Bruce Buck, Chairman Chelsea FC, said owner Roman “Abramovich and the club are very pleased to contribute to IWMs new gallery which we believe will help improve education and awareness about the Holocaust. Education and understanding of history plays an important role in changing attitudes, and we are proud to be able to contribute to this new landmark Gallery that will benefit millions of visitors from around the world.”

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