This Monday marks International Holocaust Remembrance Day — the 75th anniversary of the genocide of six million Jewish people during World War II. In honor of the freedom brought to prisoners that day, Britain’s Royal Family is honoring survivors and remembering the lives lost in a heartfelt new photo series.
Kensington Palace unveiled two new portraits shot by Kate Middleton on Sunday. In them, the Duchess of Cambridge depicts concentration camp survivors Steven Frank, 84, and Yvonne Bernstein with their grandchildren. Frank is joined by his granddaughters Maggie and Trixie Fleet, 15 and 13, and Bernstein is photographed with her granddaughter Chloe Wright, 11.
The families met Middleton at Kensington Palace earlier in the month for the shoot and spent time discussing their lives with her. The photo series, which will culminate in a 75 photo exhibition later this year, is a joint collaboration between the Royal Photographic Society (RPS), Jewish News, and the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust.
“The harrowing atrocities of the Holocaust, which were caused by the most unthinkable evil, will forever lay heavy in our hearts,” Middleton stated alongside behind-the-scenes photos of the photoshoot on Instagram on Monday. “It is so often through the most unimaginable adversity that the most remarkable people flourish.”
Middleton felt that depicting the series would shed light on the “unbelievable trauma” that these families experienced. She also said that “Yvonne Bernstein and Steven Frank are two of the most life-affirming people that I have had the privilege to meet.”
Kensington Palace gave more insight into the photo series on their official social media on Monday, giving followers a look into the lives of Frank and Bernstein. As a child, Frank was sent to Westerbork transit camp in the Netherlands, then to the Nazi-founded Theresienstadt Ghetto in German-occupied Czechoslovakia. “Steven and his brothers were 3 of only 93 children who survived the camp – 15,000 children were sent there,” the posts explain. Accompanying Frank in his photo is a cooking pot held onto by his mother during their days in the camps. His father was killed in Auschwitz.
Bernstein, as a child, was hidden in France and traveled with her aunt and uncle, changing names and where they called home as often as they could. She brought a brooch and an ID card from 1939, stamped with the letter ‘J’ for Jewish, for her photo. Her uncle was killed in Auschwitz.
“It was a true honour 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,” Middleton continued alongside her portraits. The forthcoming series will explore the lives the 75 survivors have built around the United Kingdom in the decades since their liberation.
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