This personal and immensely moving collection of photographs taken decades after the Holocaust poignantly documents a oncethriving culture that disappeared virtually overnight.
The first country to adopt Nazi Germany’s anti-Jewish policies, Slovakia transported three-quarters of its Jewish population to concentration camps in a matter of months, including Yuri Dojc’s grandfather. Many years later, Dojc returned to his ancestor’s home, camera in hand. Serendipity led him to an abandoned Jewish school in eastern Slovakia, where time had stood still since the day in 1942 when all those attending were taken away to the camps. What he found inside, as well as in the abandoned synagogues and cemeteries he visited, were the remnants of a dynamic culture that disappeared in an instant. These haunting photographs of decaying books, fragments of the Torah, splintered gravestones and the vacant, crumbling building, evoke a lost way of life. The photographs’ vibrant colors, exquisite detail, and near abstract composition tell us more about how the people lived than how they died. Among the many hundreds of books and fragments, one stands out especially, one which miraculously found its way from dusty pile to its rightful heir, a book once owned by Yuri’s grandfather, Jakab. Beautifully reproduced in this volume, Dojc’s exquisite images are both artistically and historically powerful.