Survivors in love
Photo exhibit celebrates romances
that endured through the horrors of the Holocaust
By Doug Kreutz
Tucson, Arizona |
You never know
where love will grow. The Holocaust, for example.
In that nightmare era of Nazi persecution of Jews
more than 60 years ago, love somehow endured - and
sometimes even blossomed in the aftermath. An upcoming
exhibit at the Jewish Community Center celebrates
couples who forged lasting relationships amid a scourge
"Survivor Portraits: Great Love Stories From the Holocaust" features
photographs by Lloyd Wolf and brief essays about the
survivors by Wolf and Lisa Newman.
The free exhibit will be on display April 2-27 in the
Fine Arts Gallery of the center at 3800 E. River Road.
"There are lots of Holocaust survivor stories, but we wanted to focus
on couples who stuck it out through that misery and found love," said
Wolf, an award-winning photographer based in Arlington, Va. "Their
stories are as much about their marriages as about
what happened in the (concentration) camps.
"These are people who have a closeness I can't really imagine anyone else
having," he said. "For those who survived
and had successful marriages, it has this depth."
Marty Johnston, communications specialist with the
community center, said the photos and essays provide
a new perspective on the Holocaust.
"Oftentimes, when the Holocaust
is discussed, the focus is on the genocide and death," Johnston
said. "This exhibit
focuses on life and love existing through very difficult,
very grave, horrific times."
Wolf said the exhibit, which
was featured last year in Moment magazine, includes
10 black-and-white photographs depicting eight couples
with Holocaust-related love stories.
Each couple has a unique story.
Sam and Regina Spiegel met in
a small Polish town with a munitions factory where
Jews were forced to help supply the German army with
"We fell in love in a slave labor camp," said Regina, as quoted in
an exhibit essay.
Separated en route to the infamous camp at Auschwitz,
Regina and Sam survived harrowing, life-threatening
experiences and finally were reunited. They married,
eventually moved to the United States and now live
Wolf tells of another Holocaust
romance - that of Leon and Bella Simon, now of Boca
"He was from Poland and
she was from Germany," Wolf said. "They
met in Westerbork, a Dutch internment camp near Amsterdam.
He said she was the liveliest girl in the camp. She said he was the most kind
The Simons, teenagers at the
time, made a pact to stay together.
"They knew that if they
got married, at least they would stay together," Wolf
said. "Leon made a decision to go up to the commandant
and ask to marry Bella. That was such a bold thing
to do. Just asking could have been a death sentence."
But good fortune was with the
bold young man. He and Bella got permission to be married
and had the ceremony in the camp kitchen. The couple
left Westerbork when it was liberated in 1945, headed
for Palestine, spent time in the emerging land of Israel
and later moved to the United States. "We were going
to survive together," Bella
told interviewers for one of the exhibit essays. "He
did not want to survive without me, and I could not
have survived without him." Wolf noted that two
Holocaust survivors featured in the exhibit - Max and
Regina Kleiner - died last year.
"Sadly, in a way, this project should have been done about 10 years ago," Wolf
said. "Couples from that era are dying, and they
have such stories to tell. That's why we decided: Let's
get these love stories now."
? Contact reporter Doug Kreutz at email@example.com
or at 573-4192.