The Determining Gaze. Images of Jewish Life in Postwar Poland

Exhibition opening

Julia Pirotte, Ruinen des Warschauer Ghettos, Kreuzung der Bohaterów Ghetta (Ghettohelden) und der Mordechai-Anielewicz-Straßen, Warschau 1946. Photograph from the collection of the Emanuel Ringelblum Jewish Historical Institute

Julia Pirotte, Selbstporträt im Spiegel mit Kamera in den Händen, Marseille 1943. Photograph from the collection of the Emanuel Ringelblum Jewish Historical Institute

The exhibition at the Leibniz Institute for Jewish History and Culture – Simon Dubnow showcases photographs of Jewish life in Poland immediately after the Holocaust. It emerged in cooperation with the Emanuel Ringelblum Jewish Historical Institute in Warsaw, which holds one of the most important collections on Polish Jewish history. A unique photographic collection consisting especially of photo albums offers insights into the ambivalence of the first postwar years. The exhibition can be viewed in the framework of public or reserved guided tours.

Photographs are not a neutral documentation of reality. Hence, this exhibition housed at the Leipzig research institute explores what interests clients had in their choice of subject matter and how photographers directed the viewer’s gaze with their motifs and framing. What was photographed for which purposes, what was prominently staged, and what is recognizable today only with background knowledge? And how have these photographs taken at the time shaped the image of Jewish life in postwar Poland into the present day?

Jewish life in Poland immediately after the Holocaust was full of ambivalences and contradictory experiences: between self-determination and violence, mourning and new beginnings, reconstruction and emigration. In Lower Silesia, on former German territory, Jewish life briefly flourished again for a few years. At the same time, there were repeated attacks against Jews throughout the country, the largest of which was the Kielce Pogrom in the summer of 1946. This escalation of violence was one of the main reasons for the emigration of a large number of Holocaust survivors by the end of the decade.

This exhibition emerged in the framework of funding from the Alfred Landecker Foundation and in close cooperation between the Dubnow Institute in Leipzig and the Jewish Historical Institute in Warsaw. It will run in Leipzig until December 2025.

Overview of guided tours:
Tuesday, 12.12.2023, 1 p.m.
Thursday, 14.12.2023, 4 p.m.
Wednesday, 20.12.2023, 3 p.m.
Thursday, 4 January 2024, 3.30 p.m.
Thursday, 11 January 2024, 2 p.m.
Friday, 19 January 2024, 1.30 p.m.
Thursday, 25 January 2024, 3.30 p.m.
Thursday, 1 February 2024, 3.30 p.m.

To attend the exhibition opening: Please register

Monday, 11 December 2023, 7 p.m.