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U.S. Embassy Commemorates International Holocaust Remembrance Day in Bialystok

U.S. Embassy Commemorates International Holocaust Remembrance Day in Bialystok

Counselor Daniel Sainz speaking at Bialystok University

On January 27, International Holocaust Remembrance Day, Political Counselor Dan Sainz spoke at the University of Bialystok and opened a photo exhibit, “Living On,” consisting of portraits of Holocaust survivors living in Tennessee.  “We need to do justice to Holocaust victims and survivors,” Sainz said.  “The best way is by making sure it never happens again, and by combating all forms of religious and ethnic hatred.”

The audience also had chance to see “8 Stories That Haven't Changed The World” (2010),  a documentary by Ivo Krankowski and Janek Śpiewak,  done as a result of grant program run by Humanity in Action. The film features series of interviews with Polish Jews who survived Holocaust about their childhood in pre-war Poland. It was recently presented in the States at the New York Jewish Film Festival and received very good reviews.

Counselor Sainz’s visit to Bialystok and the exhibition opening were widely covered in the local media.

Together with Lucy Lisowska, president of Bialystok Centrum Edukacji Obywatelskiej  Polska-Izrael  and Bialystok city officials,  Sainz officially opened the photographic exhibition “Living On/ Którzy przeżyli” . The American Embassy has brought the exhibition to Poland from the United States in cooperation with the Tennessee Holocaust Commission and the author Robert Heller,  professor in the School of  Journalism and Electronic Media at the University of Tennessee.

"It is sometimes said that if you look into someone's eyes long enough, you can see into their soul. Great portrait photographs accomplish this. Richard Avedon, Irving Penn, Diane Arbus, and Annie Leibovitz have influenced my work. As a photographer, a documentarian and a Jew, I am drawn to the subject of the Holocaust from a number of different perspectives. It is my responsibility to make accurate and meaningful portraits, which will have value on their own and can also work as part of a larger effort that includes personal stories from the participants. These portraits and the stories accompanying them have never failed to elicit strong and emotional reactions from viewers. When one's photographs can be both visually powerful and emotionally moving, one is lucky, indeed" -- says Heller in his intro.

“Living On” delivers an inspiring message of the victory of life over death by telling the stories of Holocaust survivors, liberators, prisoners of war, and witnesses who came from or moved to the US.  Most of the photographs being shown in Bialystok feature individuals born within the borders of pre-World War II Poland or whose major experience of the war was on Polish soil.  Each photograph is accompanied by the person’s story in Polish and English.