For more than two years, Writtle, alongside curator Jan Marsh and project manager Jacki Reason traveled across the United Kingdom to photograph and record the personal testimonies of 101 survivors of Nazi atrocities.
Thirty of the photographs were initially exhibited at City Hall in 2007 and now, more than a decade later, Writtle has brought the collection together in a new book, “Portraits For Posterity.”
Writing in the foreword, project manager Reason explains that the idea came about after visiting the Holocaust exhibition at the Imperial War Museum for the first time and realizing that one of the video testimonies showed a familiar face.
“He was Roman Halter, whom I met every day in the swimming pool, and who lived five minutes away,” Reason said.
Fellow swimmer Marsh, who worked at the National Portrait Gallery, suggested creating a portrait of Halter and it wasn’t long before Reason enlisted the help of her neighbor, Writtle, a freelance photographer for The Times.
When the proposal was put to Halter, his response was, “Yes, but why just me?” From there, he introduced the group to his wife Susie, who was a fellow survivor, and put them in touch with both the Holocaust Survivors’ Centre and ’45 Aid Society.
Beginning with one portrait and testimony, they swiftly progressed to 30 and then 100 – “adding one more for luck,” writes Marsh.
But despite the success of the exhibitions, Writtle always felt the collection would be “perfect as a permanent memorial in a book,” not only to preserve their history for future generations, but also to make it more accessible to the wider public.
“The reasons behind doing this are clear and obvious, in that the book is a reminder to everyone, especially in contemporary times, to look and see what these people had to endure,” Writtle explains.