Inquirer photographer documents 91-year-old Holocaust survivor’s emotional visit to Auschwitz

Every Monday, we present a gallery of recent pictures taken by our staff photojournalists and tell the story behind one of them. This week Inquirer staff videographer Lauren Schneiderman talks about photographing Holocaust survivor Anneliese Nossbaum who traveled to Poland with her family for the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz.

Mayah Nossbaum, 18, gets emotional while her grandmother, Anneliese Nossbaum, tells her about her experience during the Holocaust while on a tour of Auschwitz in Oświęcim, Poland on Jan. 28. The Nossbaum’s traveled to Auschwitz for the 75th anniversary of its liberation.
LAUREN SCHNEIDERMAN / Staff Photographer
Mayah Nossbaum, 18, gets emotional while her grandmother, Anneliese Nossbaum, tells her about her experience during the Holocaust while on a tour of Auschwitz in Oświęcim, Poland on Jan. 28. The Nossbaum’s traveled to Auschwitz for the 75th anniversary of its liberation.

As she walked through the museum at the former Auschwitz concentration camp, Inquirer staff videographer Lauren Schneiderman saw rooms filled with hair, shoes, suitcases — the wrenching remnants of those killed there.

Then she followed 91-year-old Holocaust survivor Anneliese Nossbaum into a room with hundreds of crutches and prosthetics.

Nossbaum, who now lives in Jenkintown, and her family were in Poland for the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. At 15 years old, she was sent to the camp — along with her aunt, Anita Lewinski, who used a cane. The Nazis immediately separated them and sent Anita to die.

So when Nossbaum stopped in front of the museum display, Schneiderman knew she was about to capture an important moment.

“I knew that Anneliese would get emotional, because her aunt was pretty much killed because she had a limp and she walked with a cane,” said Schneiderman, who along with reporter Jason Nark was following Nossbaum and her family for a story. “I knew how she would feel when she saw this specific collection of items.”

As Nossbaum quietly retold her experiences to her granddaughter Mayah, who was visiting Auschwitz for the first time, Schneiderman positioned herself to capture the Holocaust survivor’s reflection in the glass of the exhibit — an almost ghostly reminder of the beloved aunt killed decades ago.

In addition to taking photos, Schneiderman also created a video about the family’s trip to Auschwitz.

“To be there with her while she can pass down these memories to her grandchildren ... that was just really powerful,” she said. “I don’t know that I’ve ever been on such an emotionally taxing assignment.”

The experience was especially meaningful to Schneiderman because she is related to both Holocaust victims and survivors. She had never visited a concentration camp before.

“It made me want to know more about my family’s history,” she said.

» SEE MORE: Last week’s staff photo gallery and the staff photography page

Loading...