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Finder of rare Auschwitz photos to speak

Ann Weiss, who discovered at Auschwitz a cache of photographs from the lives of Jewish victims before they arrived at the death camp, speaks at Bates College at 7 p.m. Monday, Nov. 14, at the Edmund S. Muskie Archives, 70 Campus Ave.

Confiscated from Jews deported to Auschwitz in 1943, the images reflect the memories that men and women sent to Auschwitz could not leave behind. A unique testament to the vitality of the victims’ lives, these photos are the only known surviving collection from a whole transport to a concentration camp.

At Bates, Weiss will discuss her discovery of the photographs and the journey culminating in their publication in her 2001 book “The Last Album: Eyes from the Ashes of Auschwitz-Birkenau.”

The event is open to the public and will be followed by a book signing. For more information, please contact 207-755-5980.

In contrast to the Holocaust images embedded in our minds, these extraordinary photos provide an intimate and compelling record of who the Nazis’ victims were, whom they loved and what mattered most to them.

Weiss discovered the collection of more than 2,000 photos by accident during a group tour of Auschwitz in 1986. She has traveled the globe researching the stories behind the photos. Her journey has taken more than 20 years, including many visits to Poland to secure permissions and copy the photos, and far-ranging travels to reunite photos with remaining family members. Whenever a story was matched to a face, an identity was restored.

“Survivors have always told me how their loved one died, but I would ask a new question, ‘How did they live?’ ” says Weiss. “And even when no survivor remains to tell the story, it is the photos themselves, and the eyes, that reveal their own powerful testimony.”

The photographs are the basis for touring exhibitions and a 1988 documentary film, “Eyes from the Ashes.” The images have been displayed around the world including an exhibit at the Wiesenthal Center/Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles.

Weiss is a principal interviewer, researcher and analyst for The University of Pennsylvania’s “Transcending Trauma: Psychological Mechanisms of Survival” project, which has interviewed Holocaust survivors in the most detailed interview protocol to date.

She serves on the editorial board of the “Studies in the Shoah” series of history books, and has served as a trained interviewer for the Survivors of the Shoah Visual History Project, founded by director Steven Spielberg.

She is the founder and director of the Eyes from the Ashes Foundation, an educational organization. Learn more.



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