Special Collections Lecture: "Heinrich Jöst’s Warsaw Ghetto Photographs and the Challenges of Interpreting Holocaust Images" with Daniel H. Magilow


Location: Rare Books and Special Collections, 102 Hesburgh Library

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The internationally recognized date for Holocaust Remembrance Day corresponds to the 27th day of Nisan on the Hebrew calendar. It marks the anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. This year, Holocaust Remembrance Day (Yom Hashoah in Hebrew) will take place from sundown April 17 to nightfall April 18, 2023. In the United States, Days of Remembrance runs from the Sunday before Yom Hashoah through the following Sunday.

Rare Books and Special Collections with support from the Nanovic Institute for European Studies presents an academic lecture in honor of Holocaust Remembrance Day 2023.

About the Lecture

On September 19, 1941, a Wehrmacht soldier and amateur photographer named Heinrich Jöst spent his forty-third birthday strolling through the Warsaw Ghetto. The images Jöst took that day offer a rare and horrifying view of the squalor, starvation, and misery in the ghetto, but for the next forty years, Jöst remained silent about his photographs. In 1983, when he was in his eighties, ill, and destitute, he finally shared them with Günther Schwarberg, a West German reporter. Jöst described each image to Schwarberg, who used these recollections as captions for the photobook Im Ghetto von Warschau (In the Ghetto of Warsaw). Yet there are noticeable tensions between what Jöst photographed in 1941 and how he belatedly described the same images in 1983. This talk examines those tensions, the dilemmas they create for interpreters, and their broader implications for interpreting Holocaust photographs.

About the Speaker

Daniel H. Magilow is Professor of German in the Department of World Languages and Cultures at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville and Co-Editor-in-Chief of Holocaust and Genocide Studies. He was the Pearl Resnick Postdoctoral Fellow at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 2005-2006 and currently serves on the Academic Committee of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and on the Academic Council of the Holocaust Education Foundation of Northwestern University. His research centers on photography and film and their intersections with Holocaust Studies, Weimar Germany, and postwar memory. He is the author, co-author, editor, or translator of six books, including The Photography of Crisis: The Photo Essays of Weimar Germany and the second edition of Holocaust Representations in History: An Introduction (co-authored with Lisa Silverman). His most recent book is an edition of the collected writings of the German photographer Albert Renger-Patzsch: The Absolute Realist: Albert Renger-Patzsch’s Collected Writings, 1923–1967.

Originally published at nanovic.nd.edu.