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Duchess Kate photographs Holocaust survivors for 75th anniversary of Auschwitz liberation

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Maria Puente USA TODAY Published 11:13 AM EST Jan 27, 2020 Duchess Kate of Cambridge, an ardent amateur photographer, proved her skills in Old Master-style photo portraits she took of Holocaust survivors to mark the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Nazis’ Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp. The moving and artistically impressive photos were released by Kensington…


Maria Puente


USA TODAY

Published 11:13 AM EST Jan 27, 2020

Duchess Kate of Cambridge, an ardent amateur photographer, proved her skills in Old Master-style photo portraits she took of Holocaust survivors to mark the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Nazis’ Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp.

The moving and artistically impressive photos were released by Kensington Palace Sunday night in advance of the annual Holocaust Memorial Day commemorative ceremony in Westminster on Monday.

Prince William and his wife, the former Kate Middleton, were in attendance. Will, second in line to the throne, increasingly represents his father, Prince Charles the Prince of Wales, and his grandmother, Queen Elizabeth II, at important ceremonies such as this. 

The ceremony takes place on Jan. 27, the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, and honors survivors of the Holocaust, Nazi persecution, and subsequent genocides in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur.

This year marks the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, a complex of more than 40 concentration and extermination camps operated by the Nazis in occupied Poland. More than 1 million people, most of them Jewish, were murdered there during WWII.

Kate, 38, who has regularly released photos she has taken of her children and who is patron of the Royal Photographic Society, described the people she photographed as “two of the most life-affirming people that I have had the privilege to meet,” according to the palace.

One image shows 84-year-old Steven Frank, originally from Amsterdam, alongside his granddaughters Maggie and Trixie Fleet, aged 15 and 13. The photo, in its composition and its sharp contrasts of light and dark, seems to be inspired by the beloved Dutch artist Johannes Vermeer. 

Another image is that of 82-year-old Yvonne Bernstein, originally from Germany, who hid in France throughout most of the Holocaust. She is pictured with her granddaughter Chloe Wright, 11.

Other images of survivors also were released, taken by photographers from the Royal Photographic Society.

The portraits, taken at Kensington Palace earlier this month, are part of a collaborative project between the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust, Jewish News and the Royal Photographic Society. They will be included in an exhibit that will open later this year. 

Kate said in a statement on the Royal Photography Society website that she sought to make the portraits “deeply personal” to the sitters, a “celebration of family and the life that they have built” since they arrived in Britain in the 1940s.

“It was a true honor to have been asked to participate in this project and I hope in some way Yvonne and Steven’s memories will be kept alive as they pass the baton to the next generation,” Kate said.

She said she recognized that few people in the future would be able to hear the stories of survivors first hand, as she has. 

“It is vital that their memories are preserved and passed on to future generations, so that what they went through will never be forgotten,” she said.

Meanwhile, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were among scores of British leaders who arrived in rainy weather for the Holocaust Memorial Day ceremony, which has taken place every year in the United Kingdom since 2001.

Kate wore a grey tweed coat-style dress, cinched at the waist and with a flared skirt and black velvet collar. 

Prince William, who was appointed by the queen to position of Lord High Commissioner to the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland on Saturday,  was to give a reading during the ceremony.

On Holocaust Memorial Day, thousands of people come together across the U.K. to learn more about the past, to honor the survivors and all those whose lives were changed, and to take action to create a safer future, according to the palace.

The Holocaust Memorial Day Trust works to ensure the life stories of survivors are shared with the world.

After the ceremony, Will and Kate were to meet Holocaust survivors, and survivors of more recent genocides, who took part in the ceremony.

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