This artist is adding colour to pictures of the Holocaust so we never forget

Greg Evans
Monday 30 April 2018 09:30
news

When we look back at the early part of the 20th century, we are always reminded of the horrors and hardships that people faced during both world wars.

The world is far from a perfect place at the moment, but to see images of battlefields, bodies and evacuees are a stark reminder of how far we have come in less than a century, even if there is still a lot of work do.

It is important to look back and make sure that history never repeats itself.

One man who is attempting to preserve this mentality amongst people is artist Joachim West. Using images from the Holocaust and the Second World War, West is attempting to raise more awareness of the tragedy by simply colourising the photos to create empathy.

Picture: Anne Frank (Joachim West)

Picture: Wedding rings found during the liberation of Buchenwald Concentration Camp (Joachim West)(Picture: Joachim West)

Writing on Bored Panda, Joachim admits that he was compelled to start the project after reading the finding of a recent study conducted in the US.

He quotes The New York Times:

For seven decades, 'never forget' has been a rallying cry of the Holocaust remembrance movement.

But a survey released Thursday, on Holocaust Remembrance Day, found that many adults lack basic knowledge of what happened — and this lack of knowledge is more pronounced among millennials, whom the survey defined as people ages 18 to 34.

Thirty-one percent of Americans, and 41 percent of millennials believe that two million or fewer Jews were killed in the Holocaust; the actual number is around six million.

Forty-one percent of Americans and 66 percent of millennials cannot say what Auschwitz was. And 52 percent of Americans wrongly think Hitler came to power through force.

Picture: A Catholic girl, Czeslawa Kwoka (Joachim West)(Picture: Joachim West)

Picture: Auzschwitz Concentration Camp (Joachim West)(Picture: Joachim West)

For West, ensuring people remember and recognise the horror of the Holocaust matters personally. He explained to indy100:

As a Jew, it isn't uncommon for me to experience anti-semitism. 

I spent last year living in a town in Spain that was completely covered in Nazi graffiti from a local skin-head group. 

I've been called a Kike and more than once people have told me Holocaust jokes as if I would find them funny. 

More times than you might imagine, people have taken the time to explain to me that all Jews share a collective blood guilt from the death of Jesus and that we deserved the persecution that has followed us across the millennia. 

He added:

The Holocaust is extremely relevant to us today and the thought that our youth are woefully uneducated about it is horrifying and a portend of bad things to come unless we make a change. 

I'm grateful to think that I could do a something in bringing these memories closer to peoples minds and hearts.  Something about seeing those images in color really helps people to sympathize with those who were lost and to remember that the Holocaust wasn't so long ago.  

Picture: The Daschau Concentration Camp (Joachim West)(Picture: Joachim West)

Picture: Poland, 1939 - 40 (Joachim West)(Picture: Joachim West)

As you can see Joachim's images are a contrasting selection of the atrocities that people faced in concentration camps with brief glimpses of hope and humanity.

To make his images as historically accurate as possible Joachim has referenced contemporary photographs of how the camps look today.

Speaking to Indy100 he stated that he is concerned that history may repeat itself but projects like this may help:

I would like to say that I'm afraid that we may be doomed to repeat a history that we are quickly forgetting and that I believe that we are already seeing the repercussions of our forgetfulness.   

I know that we have already reached many millennials who have written that they feel that the colour brings the images to life for them, makes them feel more immediate and that they are shocked and saddened by the images.

Picture: Poland, 1939 - 40 (Joachim West)(Picture: Joachim West)

Picture: Poland, 1939-40 (Joachim West)(Picture: Joachim West)

Joachim is now seeking more help and assistance to get more images colourised and spread an important message.

If you would like to get in contact with him please visit his personal website or alternatively follow him on Instagram or YouTube.

You can also support his projects through Patreon.

Picture: Poland, 1939-40 (Joachim West)(Picture: Joachim West)

Picture: Poland, 1939-40 (Joachim West)(Picture: Joachim West)

If you are interested in seeing some of Joachim's work in the flesh and happen to be in or near Houston, Texas on May 19 please pay a visit to the Gray Contemporary art gallery where he will be displaying some of his work.

HT Bored Panda

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