To know our story is our fundamental need. We need around and behind us the context that we can fit into, one that we are part of.
Ildi Hermann visited in their homes Hungarian Jews living in New York to listen to, to write down their stories and to take photos of them. The basic idea of the material that fills a void was born out of the photographer’s lost opportunity. Her Holocaust survivor grandmother’s unasked story gave her the push to make the stories of others readable and visible.
The portrait subjects, who are prosperous, visibly well and in some cases like quite similar interiors may have never told anyone their life stories this way. From the shareable knowledge base, from the Hungarian Holocaust stories theirs were still certainly missing.
We know a lot about the Shoah, sometimes we may even feel we know too much, so much horror is pouring at us unstoppably. However, the comprehensive picture, if that even exists, is less relatable and the big picture is not only made up of the mosaics of the millions of personal stories. It is composed of mosaic squares: life stories. Ones that become visceral reality, for example in a room where you are sitting face to face with the person telling their stories and you are listening to them.
Now the number of mosaics has grown with the stories of people escaping far away because of the Holocaust and there are less life stories unknown to us. Less stories that were not inquired about in time and cannot be told anymore. The people who still remain among us are almost only the ones the survivors told their stories to and who can only pass on what they heard. Soon they will be the only ones who remember the faces of the storytellers.
To prevent that at least in a few cases, here are some stories that have been missing so far.
Zsófia Somogyi, Curator