Framing the Holocaust
Photographs of a Mass Shooting in Latvia, 1941
“Makes an original and highly valuable contribution to the debate about how to work with the photographic evidence of the Holocaust, and by extension, the broader visual representation of genocide, trauma, and crimes against humanity.”
When viewing atrocity photographs, do we revive the original violence?
In December 1941, German police and their local collaborators murdered 2,749 Jews at the beach in Šķēde, near Liepāja, Latvia. Twelve photographs were taken at the scene. These now-infamous images show people in extreme distress, sometimes without clothing. Some capture the very moments when women and children confronted their imminent deaths, while others show their dead bodies. They are nearly unbearable to look at—so why should we? Framing the Holocaust offers a multidimensional response to this question.
While photographs are central to our memory of modern historical events, they often inhabit an ambivalent intellectual space. What separates the sincere desire to understand from voyeuristic curiosity? Comprehending these images requires the viewer to place oneself in the very positions of the perpetrator who took the images. When we engage with atrocity photographs, do we risk replicating the original violence? In this tightly organized book, scholars from Holocaust studies, modern European history, Jewish studies, visual studies, and the history of photography examine the images of the Liepāja atrocity, giving historical, contextual, political, and moral depth to the act of looking and interpreting.
With a foreword by Edward Anders, who narrowly escaped the December shooting, Framing the Holocaust represents an original approach to an iconic series of Holocaust photographs. This book will contribute to powerful debates in the emerging field of visual history, including the challenges and responsibilities of teaching about atrocity.
Table of Contents
List of Illustrations
Foreword by Edward Anders
Introduction: Twelve Photographs
Not to Tiptoe Away in the Face of Suffering: Why We Look at Holocaust Photographs
Investigating Both Sides of the Camera on the Beach at Šķēde
Reading against the Gaze: Perpetrator Motives and Subject Responses in Photographs of a Mass Shooting
Ordinary Acts, Extraordinary Crimes: Photographic Practice and Atrocity
Describing Atrocity: Soviet Words on German Perpetrator Images
A Day at the Beach: The Šķēde Massacre and Littoral Photography
Daniel H. Magilow
Representations of Female Bodies in Holocaust Photographs
A Pedagogy of Witnessing: Reading and Interpreting the Šķēde Photographs in the Classroom
Of Related Interest
296 pp. 6 x 9
75 b/w photos