Kate Middleton: Photos by Duchess of Cambridge of Holocaust survivors feature in new exhibition

Jason Collie
The Duchess of Cambridge/PA Wire

Moving photographs of Holocaust survivors taken by the Duchess of Cambridge will feature in an exhibition marking 75 years since the end of the horrific genocide.

The survivors are pictured alongside their children and grandchildren and the images were released on Sunday night ahead of Holocaust Memorial Day on Monday.

Kate was among those behind the lens for the project and described the survivors in her portraits as “two of the most life-affirming people that I have had the privilege to meet”.

Each of the portraits depicts the special connection between a survivor and younger generations of their family, who will carry the legacy of their grandparents.

One of Kate’s two portraits was of 84-year-old Steven Frank, originally from Amsterdam, who survived multiple concentration camps as a child.

He is pictured alongside his granddaughters Maggie and Trixie Fleet, aged 15 and 13.

Kate’s other portrait is of 82-year-old Yvonne Bernstein, originally from Germany, who was a hidden child in France throughout most of the Holocaust.

Yvonne Bernstein with her granddaughter Chloe Wright (The Duchess of Cambridge/PA Wire)

Her father was in Amsterdam on business when Kristallnacht took place in 1938 and was advised to go into hiding, before making it to the UK.

She is pictured with her granddaughter Chloe Wright, aged 11.

In a photograph by Frederic Aranda, Joan Salter, 79, who fled the Nazis as a young child, appears with her husband Martin and her daughter Shelley.

Joan Salter with husband Martin and daughter Shelley (Frederic Aranda/PA Wire)

John Hajdu, 82, who survived the Budapest Ghetto, is in a portrait with his four-year-old grandson Zac photographed by Jillian Edelstein.

John Hajdu with his four-year-old grandson Zac (Jillian Edelstein/PA Wire)

The project aims to inspire people across the UK to consider their own responsibility to remember and share the stories of those who endured persecution at the hands of the Nazis.

The portraits will be part of an exhibition which 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.

Speaking about the project, the duchess, who is Royal Photographic Society patron, 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.

“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 recognise 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.

“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 honour 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.”

Her photographs were taken at Kensington Palace earlier this month, and because both survivors have strong links to the Netherlands, Kate was inspired by 17th century Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer, who specialised in interior domestic scenes.

The pictures were taken next to a window that brought in light from the east, the direction of Jerusalem.

The project is a collaborative one between the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust, Jewish News and the Royal Photographic Society.

On Monday, Kate will be joined by her husband, the Duke of Cambridge, at the UK Holocaust Memorial Day commemorative ceremony in Westminster.

Elsewhere, the Duchess of Cornwall will attend commemorations in Poland to mark the 75th anniversary of the liberation of former Nazi concentration and extermination camp Auschwitz-Birkenau.

Additional reporting by PA Media