New exhibition at UNESCO honours the survivors of the Holocaust

A new exhibition launching on 25 January at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris commemorates the victims of the Holocaust and of Nazi persecution.

“Lest we forget”, a photo exhibition of Holocaust survivors and other victims of Nazi persecution by German-Italian photographer Luigi Toscano, is displayed at UNESCO headquarters in Paris from 18 January to 12 February 2021.

Toscano travelled to the United States, Germany, the Netherlands, Belarus, Ukraine, Israel and Russia to meet and photograph over 400 survivors. Their portraits and personal stories are at the heart of the exhibition, 200 of which are installed in Hall Ségur and around the exterior of the UNESCO building for the public to see.

The installation of the exhibition marks the commemoration of the International Day of Commemoration in memory of the victims of the Holocaust on 27 January 2021.

Speaking at the installation of the exhibition, Toscano said, “I started this project in 2014. It worried me to see what was going on in the world and I decided to use what I can do best, photography, to raise awareness about the history of the Holocaust and to take a stand against antisemitism, racism and any kind of hatred. In contrast, I want to promote human rights and mutual respect.”

“One of the first survivors I have portrayed was Susan Cernyak-Spatz, who survived Auschwitz. Until today I remember what she told me: ‘If we forget about the past, we are damned to repeat it.’ Today, rising antisemitism, hate speech, right wing extremism very well show that this is true. Her words inspire me to continue with my project. Moreover, I will continue promoting our democracy, since it is my deep conviction that it will win.”

Several Holocaust survivors photographed for the exhibition visited the installation in Paris. After seeing the exhibition, Holocaust survivor Ginette Kolinka said, “The memory of the Holocaust lies in the hands of the younger generations. They inspire me to speak about my experience. I and many other survivors did not talk to our own children, but today I visit schools to tell students and teachers about the Holocaust. Especially teachers have a great responsibility: educating about this history, so it won’t be forgotten.”

The exhibition is the largest of its kind and has previously been displayed at the United Nations Headquarters in New York, the United Nations in Geneva, Washington DC, Berlin, Vienna, Brussels, and Kyiv. Its installation at UNESCO’s headquarters in Paris is organised in partnership with the World Jewish Congress, the European Union, the Permanent Delegations of Austria, France and Germany to UNESCO, and the Austrian Cultural Forum in Paris.

A virtual opening of the exhibition will be held on 25 January at 4 p.m. CEST.