Today marks the beginning of the photo exhibition “Lest We Forget” at UNESCO headquarters in Paris. More than 200 large-format portraits of Holocaust survivors are displayed in the public spaces of the UNESCO building, as well as on the gates surrounding the building.
Portraits of Austrian, German, Polish and American survivors are on display. Among them are four French survivors.
Ginette Kolinka, Yvette Lévy, Rachel Jedinak and Elie Buzyn have agreed to participate in this project and to be photographed by the German-Italian photographer Luigi Toscano.
It all started a few weeks ago, in December 2020. We had accompanied Luigi Toscano to meet these French survivors at their home for a photo session and to collect their testimonies.
The country’s EJC affiliate, the Crif, a partner in this project, acted as an intermediary between the photographer Luigi Toscano, UNESCO, and the Holocaust survivors.
Yvette, Ginette, Elie and Rachel welcomed us at their home, where we spent pleasant moments in their company. They were all very excited to participate in this project.
From these beautiful encounters, we will remember Yvette’s hospitality, Ginette’s humour, Elie’s frankness and Rachel’s sensitivity.
Last Sunday, January 17, 2021, Ginette, Yvette, Rachel and Elie went to UNESCO to discover their portraits.
It was with emotion that they saw each other for the first time in large format. They laughed at the immensity of the photography, and to discover their faces in life-size, with so many apparent details.
To the questions: What do you think? Does it look like you? Rachel replied: “Oh yes, it’s me, I recognize myself. Although it is surprising to see her face in such a large format”. Ginette, with a great sense of humor said, “Yes it looks like me, although I don’t see myself that old when I look in the mirror!”.
But most of all they are impressed that these portraits travel around the world, telling stories, delivering messages.
Because behind each of these portraits, there is above all a story, a destiny and a message. If they agreed to be photographed for this exhibition, it is above all out of a duty to remember.
For years, all of them have tirelessly testified in schools across the country, and they also accompany journeys of memory in Poland.
Just one year ago, on January 12, 2020, Ginette Kolinka accompanied the journey of memory organized by the Crif to Auschwitz-Birkenau. A few days later, on Monday, January 20, 2020, Elie Buzyn was received at the Friends of the Crif for an exceptional conference. Yvette Lévy is a member of the Remembrance Commission of the Crif. Rachel Jedinak has been elevated this year to the rank of Officer of the Legion of Honour.