George Kadish’s ‘Modest but Important Beginning’: Exhibiting the Holocaust to Survivors Through Photographs, 1945–1946

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George Kadish (Hirsch Zvi Kadushin) is best known as the intrepid, clandestine photographer of the Kovno ghetto. But he was also the curator of one of the first Holocaust exhibitions mounted by a Jewish survivor for Jewish survivors. Even before Israel Kaplan’s November 1945 call to ‘collect and record,’ Kadish was already working as a zamler (collector), salvaging and gathering thousands of photographs from diverse sources in order to assemble an archive of Nazi persecution and Jewish suffering. From this collection, he selected 300 photographs for a traveling exhibition entitled ‘Pictures of the Ghetto’ that was shown in the Landsberg and Feldafing DP camps before being showcased at the first Congress of the She’erit Hapleitah, organized by the Central Committee of the Liberated Jews in the American-occupied zone of Germany, on January 27, 1946. Grouping the photos thematically, rather than chronologically or geographically, he collated them onto large, portable black panels captioned with descriptive titles in Yiddish. This article analyzes the discursive framing of Kadish’s exhibition, its semiotics, and its reception as ‘material speech’ addressed to a ‘family of Jewish survivors’ and presenting the Holocaust from a Jewish perspective through ‘bonding images.’ Whereas the antifascist exhibitions of the immediate postwar period marginalized Jewish victimization, Kadish’s showcased Nazi brutality while fostering a community in suffering for the survivors.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)244-270
Number of pages27
JournalJournal of Holocaust Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


  • Central Historical Commission in Munich
  • displaced persons camps American occupied zone
  • exhibition studies
  • Photography of persecution
  • public memory
  • visual culture

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • History
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Political Science and International Relations
  • Law


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