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Duchess of Cambridge takes moving photos of ‘life-affirming’ Holocaust survivors

A man who endured Nazi concentration camps as a child is among the people photographed by the Duchess of Cambridge for an exhibition marking 75 years since the World War II genocide ended.

Four survivors feature with their families in moving new photographs released for Holocaust Memorial Day on Monday.

The duchess, who was one of those behind the lens, said her images drew inspiration from The Diary Of Anne Frank, describing it as one of the most moving stories she read as a child.

She described the survivors in her portraits as “remarkable” and “life-affirming” people who were a “privilege to meet”.

Image: Yvonne Bernstein, who was a hidden child in France throughout most of the Holocaust, pictured with her granddaughter Chloe Wright, 11. Pic: Duchess of Cambridge

Each one depicts the special connection between a survivor and younger members of their family.


One of Kate’s two portraits was of 84-year-old Steven Frank, from Amsterdam, who survived multiple concentration camps as a child.

He is pictured with his two teenage granddaughters.

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Kate’s other portrait is of 82-year-old Yvonne Bernstein, originally from Germany, who was a hidden child in France throughout most of the Holocaust.

Ms Bernstein’s father went into hiding when he was in Amsterdam on business as Kristallnacht took place in 1938.

He eventually made it to the UK.

Ms Bernstein is pictured with her granddaughter Chloe Wright,11.

Image: John Hajdu MBE, 82 who survived the Budapest Ghetto, pictured with his grandson Zac, 4. Pic: Jillian Edelstein

In a photograph by Frederic Aranda, 79-year-old Joan Salter, who fled the Nazis as a young child, appears with her husband and daughter.

Budapest Ghetto survivor, John Hajdu, is in a portrait with his grandson, taken by Jillian Edelstein.

The project is a collaboration between the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust, Jewish News and the Royal Photographic Society.

It aims to inspire people across the UK to consider their own responsibility to remember and share the stories of the persecution suffered at the hands of the Nazis.

The portraits, taken at Kensington Palace, will be part of an exhibition to open later this year, bringing together 75 images of survivors and their family members.

The duchess, a Royal Photographic Society patron, said it was a “true honour” to take part.

Image: Joan Salter MBE, 79, who fled the Nazis as a young child, pictured with her husband Martin and her daughter Shelley. Pic: Frederic Aranda

She said the “harrowing atrocities of the Holocaust, which were caused by the most unthinkable evil, will forever lay heavy in our hearts”.

“Yet it is so often through the most unimaginable adversity that the most remarkable people flourish.”

She said that despite facing unbelievable trauma at the start of their lives, Yvonne Bernstein and Steven Frank are “two of the most life-affirming people that I have had the privilege to meet”.

“They look back on their experiences with sadness, but also with gratitude that they were some of the lucky few to make it through.”

The duchess said their stories will stay with her forever.

“Whilst I have been lucky enough to meet two of the now-very-few survivors, I recognise not everyone in the future will be able to hear these stories first hand.

“It is vital that their memories are preserved and passed on to future generations, so that what they went through will never be forgotten.”

She said she wanted to make the portraits a “deeply personal” celebration of family and the lives the survivors had built since moving to Britain.

Image: The duchess says the stories of those she photographed will stay with her forever

Because both survivors have strong links to the Netherlands, Kate was inspired by 17th century Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer, who specialised in interior domestic scenes.

On Monday, Kate will be joined by the Duke of Cambridge at the UK Holocaust Memorial Day commemorative ceremony in Westminster.

The Duchess of Cornwall will attend commemorations in Poland to mark the 75th anniversary of the liberation of former Nazi concentration and extermination camp Auschwitz-Birkenau.


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