A warning to stand up for humanity

Chancellor opens an exhibition about the Holocaust A warning to stand up for humanity

75 years after the liberation of the concentration and extermination camp in Auschwitz, the exhibition "Survivors" presents photos of 75 Holocaust survivors. The exhibition in Essen was opened in the presence of Chancellor Angela Merkel. "The portraits look us straight in the eye and thus speak to us directly," said the Chancellor.

Chancellor Angela Merkel at the opening of the "Survivors" exhibition

The "Survivors" exhibition in Essen's Zollverein Coal Mine Industrial Complex is showing portraits of 75 Holocaust survivors

Photo: Bundesregierung/Steins

The exhibition in Essen’s Zollverein Coal Mine Industrial Complex is the first time these works of photographer Martin Schoeller have been shown anywhere in the world. They show the faces of Jewish men and women who experienced the atrocities of the Holocaust, and survived. The images speak a more powerful and clearer language than any words.

Enormously intense photos

During her visit, Chancellor Angela Merkel was deeply moved. "The portraits shown here have an intensity that reaches out and touches us," she said. "The individuals portrayed look us straight in the eye, and thus speak directly to us."

In her address, Chancellor Angela Merkel stressed the importance of the exhibition in Essen. "Every portrait is a warning to us, that tells of the need to stand up for humanity, not to look away and remain silent if someone else is attacked or humiliated, or if their human dignity is violated."

Portraits the work of a recognised artist

The larger than life close-ups were shot at the Yad Vashem World Holocaust Remembrance Center in Jerusalem, where the internationally acclaimed photographer Martin Schoeller took the portrait shots of some of the last survivors still alive today. 

Martin Schoeller is one of the most acclaimed portrait photographers in the world. Born in Munich, today he photographs politicians like Barack Obama and Angela Merkel, as well as actors such as Robert De Niro and pop stars like Taylor Swift.

The exhibition of these photos of Martin Schoeller is entitled "Survivors. Faces of Life after the Holocaust". It is the second project that the Bonn Foundation for Art and Culture has undertaken jointly with Israel’s Yad Vashem World Holocaust Remembrance Center. The exhibition will run until 24 April.