The Holocaust: Presence of the Past
Photographs by Judy Ellis Glickman
With my cameras in hand, I walk the endless railroad tracks… All that I see and photograph speaks to me of its past, as if each object is bearing witness, a silent witness, to the evil and tragedy that was the Holocaust.
– Judy Ellis Glickman
And the Lord said unto Cain, “Where is Abel thy brother? …What has thou done? The voice of thy brother’s blood crieth unto Me from the ground.”
– Genesis 4:9
In the late 1980s, when I first entered Warsaw and Krakow, Auschwitz and Birkenau, I could almost hear the cry and feel the presence of what had occurred before me. The buildings, the rooms, the objects. The stones, the trees, the earth itself. The mass graves – and the ashes. All bore witness to the darkest period in our recent human history.
Being in Poland was almost a returning for me, a returning to a place I had never been. All of my family are from Poland, Lithuania, and the Ukraine – areas in which close to 90 percent of the Jewish people perished. My grandparents were fortunate to emigrate to the United States at the turn of the 20th century, my mother and grandmother being the last to come in 1914. And while I am not a survivor or the child of a survivor, being in the death camps of Poland made me ask how many members of my family whom I had never known perished here? How many of my aunts, uncles, and cousins were meeting their deaths in these ghettos, boxcars, and camps while I was able to grow up worlds away in California?
Although I was familiar with this tragic period, and had photographed Holocaust-related subject matter for over ten years, it wasn’t until I stood inside Auschwitz for that first time that this work became personal, real, immediate.
I have returned to this part of the world many times since, and have expanded my search to historic sites in Russia, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Bulgaria, Austria, and Germany.
My cameras are a part of me, my way of recording and expressing what I see and feel. With my cameras in hand, I explore the old ghettos of Lubin, Warsaw, Krakow – now virtually empty of Jews. I enter the death camps of Treblinka, Majdanek, Sachsenhausen, Dachau, Theresienstadt, Auschwitz, Birkenau. I walk the endless railroad tracks. I walk the cemeteries crowded with tombstones, mass graves, and memorials.
All that I see and photograph speaks to me of its past, as if each object is bearing witness, a silent witness, to the evil and tragedy that was the Holocaust.
– Judy Ellis Glickman
About the Artist
Judy Ellis Glickman, involved in photography her entire life, has been photographing and exhibiting extensively since the late 70s, and over one hundred exhibitions of her work have been shown nationally and internationally since 1992.
In 1993, Glickman received the Fellowship distinction of the Royal Photographic Society of Great Britain, the highest honor this prestigious organization bestows.
Glickman is affiliated with Howard Greenberg Gallery in New York, and currently resides in Cape Elizabeth, Maine.