Magazine Feature

Holocaust Awareness Institute hosts author of The Last Album

Holocaust scholar Ann Weiss will be the featured speaker at the Eighth Annual Fred Marcus Holocaust Memorial Lecture on March 14.

During a visit to Auschwitz in 1986, Weiss came across a forgotten cache of 2,000 personal photographs locked in an archive. For some reason, the photos were not destroyed by the Nazis and are believed to be the only pre-Holocaust pictures brought to the concentration camp. They reveal the pre-1943 lives of an entire transport of Jews marked for extermination and include images of weddings, school picnics, bar mitzvahs, sweethearts and babies.

For about 20 years, Weiss has been reconstructing lives from the pictures and has made many touching discoveries. At one of her presentations, an audience member told her he had danced at a wedding depicted in one of the photos, she says.

“Each time a discovery is made, I feel as if, in a sense, a life has been reclaimed,” Weiss says. “The Nazis wanted their victims to be dehumanized — dead and dehumanized. They took away their names, replacing them with numbers. They destroyed their personal photos so that we could not see their faces. Not only did the Nazis destroy their lives, but they even tried to destroy the memory of their lives. With these photos, they can be remembered as people, not bodies, and in this sense, they live.”

Weiss’s book, The Last Album: Eyes From The Ashes of Auschwitz-Birkenau,(Jewish Publication Society, 2005) combines many of the photos with the stories. The joyful subjects of the pictures “are life-affirming,” says Audrey Friedman Marcus, who established the annual Holocaust Remembrance Lecture in her husband’s name eight years ago. Weiss will sign copies of the book after her talk.

The lecture, which is sponsored by DU’s Holocaust Awareness Institute, will take place at 4 p.m. March 14 at the Infinity Park Events Center in Glendale. For information call 303-871-3013 or visit or Weiss’ Web site.

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