Kate Middleton has unveiled her latest photographic project: moving portraits of two Holocaust survivors and their families.
She invited the two survivors to Kensington Palace so she could capture the striking images alongside their grandchildren. The portraits will form part of a new exhibition that will open later this year, bringing together 75 powerful images of survivors and their family members to mark 75 years since the end of the Holocaust. In all, six million Jews were murdered during the Holocaust.
Kate paid tribute to the “life-affirming” stories of those she met and says she is honored to help tell their stories for future generations. With that theme in mind, Steven Frank, 84, was pictured alongside his granddaughters Maggie and Trixie Fleet, 15 and 13, and Yvonne Bernstein, appears in a photograph with her granddaughter Chloe Wright, 11.
The royal mom of three said, “The harrowing atrocities of the Holocaust, which were caused by the most unthinkable evil, will forever lay heavy in our hearts. Yet it is so often through the most unimaginable adversity that the most remarkable people flourish. Despite unbelievable trauma at the start of their lives, Yvonne Bernstein and Steven Frank are two of the most life-affirming people that I have had the privilege to meet.”
She added, “They look back on their experiences with sadness but also with gratitude that they were some of the lucky few to make it through. Their stories will stay with me forever. Whilst I have been lucky enough to meet two of the now very few survivors, I recognize not everyone in the future will be able to hear these stories first hand. It is vital that their memories are preserved and passed on to future generations, so that what they went through will never be forgotten.”
Kate’s part in the project is one of several ways the royal family is marking the anniversary. On Monday, she and husband Prince William are set to attend the U.K. Holocaust Memorial Day Commemorative Ceremony in Westminster, while, in Israel, Prince Charles spoke powerfully about how the genocide “defies comprehension.”
Kate added in her statement accompanying the photos, “One of the most moving accounts I read as a young girl was The Diary of Anne Frank, which tells a very personal reflection of life under Nazi occupation from a child’s perspective. Her sensitive and intimate interpretation of the horrors of the time was one of the underlying inspirations behind the images. I wanted to make the portraits deeply personal to Yvonne and Steven – a celebration of family and the life that they have built since they both arrived in Britain in the 1940s. The families brought items of personal significance with them, which are included in the photographs.”
“It was a true honor to have been asked to participate in this project and I hope in some way Yvonne and Steven’s memories will be kept alive as they pass the baton to the next generation.”
The two photos are part of a collaborative project between the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust, Jewish News and the Royal Photographic Society (RPS) of which Kate is Patron. Two other photos by RPS Honorary Fellow Jillian Edelstein and RPS member Frederic Aranda are also released.
Steven Frank, who was originally from Amsterdam, in The Netherlands, survived multiple concentration camps as a child. Yvonne Bernstein was originally from Germany, but was hidden in France throughout most of the Holocaust. He said in a statement, “I would hope that the people who look at these pictures not only look at the beauty of the photography, but they will also think of the people behind the photos and their families that they lost in the Holocaust.”
Frank’s granddaughter Trixie said Princess Kate “was really interested in our family and in Opa’s story, and the items we brought with us.” Her Maggie added, “I think it helped put into perspective that he’s just our Opa – he’s our grandpa as well as a Holocaust survivor. It’s important to tell the story so it doesn’t happen again.”