“I think the part of the shoot that will stay with me is 79-year-old Miriam Ziegler showing her Auschwitz prison tattoo which she also showed 70 years ago to the Russian photographer who documented the children as they were liberated.”
Survivors of the Auschwitz concentration camp who were photographed together as children shortly after liberation have been photographed together again after 70 years.
The four survivors; 85-year-old Gabor Hirsch of Switzerland, 80-year-old Eva Kor of Chicago, 81-year-old, Paula Lebovics of Los Angeles and 79-year-old Miriam Ziegler of Toronto attended the photo shoot as part of the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the German Nazi camp.
“In advance, we printed out the archive shot of the children behind the barbed wire taken by Alexander Vorontsov in 1945,” said Getty Images Photographer Ian Gavan who photographed the event. “We had it shipped to the hotel in Krakow where we were going to do the shoot as it was quite large, around 1.5m in length.”
The shoot was organized by the USC Shoah Foundation – The Institute for Visual History and Education – who last summer set out to uncover the names of all 13 children in the photo and contact as many as possible.
Through the Institute’s work, five of the children were already known to the staff. But to find the others, they needed to investigate deeper.
Institute staff obtained additional documentation from the archives at Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum. They also found a 2005 photo depicting and identifying seven of the grown children at a ceremony observing the 60th anniversary. But as of September, three of the children remained unidentified.
Then, Institute staff found one – Ziegler – through her daughter’s Facebook page. They connected with Hirsch after his son read a news story about the approaching commemoration and contacted the Institute. They found the third person – Ruth Webber – through her husband’s testimony in the Visual History Archive.
“I think the part of the shoot that will stay with me is 79-year-old Miriam Ziegler showing her Auschwitz prison tattoo which she also showed 70 years ago to the Russian photographer who documented the children as they were liberated,” said Ian.
The original image showing 13 grim-faced children gazing at the camera through barbed wire was taken by Alexander Vorontsov, a cameraman attached to the 1st Ukrainian Front who liberated the camp in the winter of 1945. Ten of the 13 children are still alive today.
“These four children not only persevered through the horrors of Auschwitz, they went on to lead full lives,” said Stephen Smith, executive director of USC Shoah Foundation. “The 1.1 million people murdered at Auschwitz were robbed of this basic human right.”Explore more portraits of survivors by photographer Chris Furlong who recently visited Auschwitz.