The Ultimate Revenge: Photographs of Holocaust Survivors with their Grandchildren
The Nazi genocide was underway, and young Canadian Nosson Meir Wachtfogel was instructed to flee Kelm where he had been a yeshiva student. While he was running for his life back to his family in Montreal, he had a prophetic dream.
His daughter recalls, “In his dream, he saw the city of Kelm being destroyed by the Nazis, ym”s. People were running frantically through the streets. My father chased after them, anxious to catch up, wanting to join them. He saw them running into a building, but when he reached it, the door slammed shut. My father tried to enter but the door was locked. He banged desperately on the closed door.”
“Suddenly it opened.”
“A box full of ashes was handed to him. ‘These are the remains of Kelm,’ he heard a voice say. ‘Take them and run.’”*
When he awoke, young Nosson Meir understood that this dream was a sign that he was meant to pass on the teachings of Kelm to the next generation. And that is what he did. He took that box of ashes and became one of the most revered rabbis of the previous generation, the Mashgiach Ruchani of the Bais Medrash Govoha of Lakewood.
Photographer Aliza Auerbach’s intensely moving, newly-released book “Survivors” is a collection of photographs of Holocaust survivors who have also taken the ashes of their murdered families and the thriving Jewish world that Hitler destroyed–and run with them. By establishing proud, strong Jewish families in the land of Israel. The ultimate revenge.
Click here to view more photos from Survivors by Aliza Auerbach
Gefen Publishers on Survivors: Survivors is not just another Holocaust photo album. It is a special work that confirms optimism and vitality. It deals with the cycle of life and its wonders. It took renowned photographer Aliza Auerbach five long years to create this album. Her subjects represent Holocaust survivors from seventeen countries – countries associated with the Holocaust, like Poland, Germany, and Lithuania, as well as such places as Libya, Tunisia, Greece, and Macedonia. The album contains twenty-nine black-and-white portraits of survivors accompanied by their autobiographies. It also shows personal objects they have kept, either from the camps and ghettos, or from their pre-war homes. Throughout the album one encounters photographs of railroad tracks in the snow, which were taken in Jerusalem but echo the trains of Europe in the 1940s. The emphasis, though, is on the new families the survivors have created in Israel. Unlike the black-and-white portraits, these photographs are in color and spread on two pages. They show the children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren that sprung from a single survivor. For example, one survivor gave birth to eleven children, from which eighty-seven grandchildren and 205 great-grandchildren were born! This moving album shows the survivors as they are today, with the emphasis on hope, on the miracle of rehabilitation, the power of survival, and the unbelievable wonder of continuity, in spite of everything.
These photos are the property of photographer Aliza Auerbach
*Quotation from “Ready for Moshiach” by Mrs. Miriam Rubnitz which appeared in Binah Magazine (Dec. 24, 2012)