Silent Witness, the book
The story of the book Silent Witness is partly told by the photographer, seen from the present. The writing concerns his subjective findings, emotions, realizations and reflections during his recent visits to more than 25 camps. This is supplemented with information from the various locations, facts and figures and fragments from journals. Another part is being told from the point of view of the buildings, gas chambers, areas where the victims lived and the possessions and items left by the Nazis; all of these are the Silent Witnesses of unimaginable human suffering and a ruthless and cruel genocide over the period ’33 -’45. And as a thread in the book, you’ll find interviews with survivors, people who found shelter and participants of the resistance looking back on that period from the present time.
The pictures are black and white images and each one tells us a story. They can be typified as tragically atmospheric thanks to the special use of the lighting conditions. The quasi every day of the nature of things, buildings and objects is being eliminated because of the exposure of the unusual. In the specific atmosphere the photographer captures so strikingly, the tragedy is exposed to painfully well. In a part of the work one can even feel, like a disguised bride with a veil, a thickness in the drama. The purpose is to show the readers of the book a glimpse of the dizzying awareness of the size and scale of the genocide.
The angle of the book is an educational one. The reason is to take young people (teenagers and twenties) through personal stories and images back in time along a series of concentration and destruction camps. The photos are only of the present time: pictures of concentration camps, buildings, objects and materials. All are provided with relevant information. The texts aim to be a truthful representation of the experience in the present time, reflecting on the inhuman situation of the prisoners back then and what they must have gone through. The interviews are conversations with a journalistic basis with people who survived the war and now, more than 70 years later, look back on that black period and the impact it has (had) on their lives.
The purpose of our book is threefold:
- To continuously remember young people and future generations of this massive destruction of people. This should never be forgotten.
- To emphasize the importance of maintaining the concentration and destruction camps.
- To fight the denial of the Holocaust.
Initiator of the project is professional documentary photographer Lowy Sterken. Since 2008, Lowy has done a great deal of research, gathering information, taking photographs and visited (under the guidance of an interpreter) more than 25 concentration camps in the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Austria, the Czech Republic, Poland and France.