Powerful Portfolio of Nazi Archives by Photographer Richard Erhlich Coming to UB

When it comes to visual conceptions of the Holocaust, you haven't seen it all

Release Date: April 9, 2009 This content is archived.


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The UB Art Gallery will host an exhibition of work by Richard Ehrlich, who has documented the extensive records kept by the Nazis during World War II.

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- In addition to the massive atrocity of the Holocaust and the individual horrors that attended it, most people have no idea of the extent of the weirdly obsessive record-keeping practices of the Nazis bureaucracy, whose millions of mundane and detailed materials present excruciating and undeniable evidence of its terrible crimes.

The existence of these records, documented by noted photographer Richard Ehrlich, M.D., not only takes our understanding of the Holocaust to an entirely different, and most uncomfortable, level, but explicitly and powerfully challenges Holocaust denial.

The University at Buffalo Art Gallery, located in the Center for the Arts on the UB North (Amherst) Campus, will present this evidence in the stunning exhibit, "The Holocaust Archive Revealed: Bad Arolsen through the Lens of Richard Ehrlich," April 21-June 20.

The exhibit, free and open to the public, will be held in the gallery's second-floor exhibition space. The public also is invited to a public reception in the gallery for Ehrlich on April 21 at 6:45 p.m.

The UB Art Gallery is open Tuesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and on Thursday until 7 p.m. For information about the exhibit and parking, call 716-645-6913.

The exhibition was made possible through support from UB alumnus Wayne S. Blank (B.A., Philosophy, 1966), a member of the College of Arts and Sciences Dean's Advisory Council and president of Bergamot Station in Santa Monica, Southern California's largest art gallery complex and cultural center, and of the Shoshana Wayne Gallery.

The exhibition will be mounted in conjunction with a 5 p.m. lecture on April 21 "The Holocaust and Art: Differing Approaches," featuring Ohio Wesleyan University professor emeritus, artist Marty J. Kalb, whose "Holocaust Series" documents what he calls "the industrialization of murder by a modern government."

The lecture will take place in the Drama Theater in UB's Center for the Arts, and will be followed by a panel discussion by Ehrlich and UB professors: Richard Cohen, Harvey Breverman and Saul Elkin.

UB Gallery Curator Sandra Firmin explains that the subject of his photographs is the International Tracing Service (ITS) archive in Bad Arolsen, Germany, which encompasses more than 16 miles of records and artifacts housed in six buildings, one a former SS barracks.

She says that the archives themselves and Ehrlich's photos, taken shortly after the ITS opened to the public in 2007, reveal with excruciating exactitude the Nazi campaign to murder 17 million people and eradicate European Jewry and other "undesirable minorities."

Through Ehrlich's lens, the viewer encounters the chilling precision and obsessive mentality of the Nazi bureaucracy. Today, at a time of resurging Holocaust denial, these thousands of folders, storage boxes, stacks of papers and ledgers -- normally the mundane paraphernalia of record keeping -- provide painful and irrefutable evidence of history's most unimaginable crime.

The exhibition comprises 28 panels featuring photographs taken in the ITS, accompanied by text detailing the varied contents of the archives, which were collected from a number of sources, including the Gestapo, ghettos, prison camps and other agencies of Nazi authority.

Firmin says that among the many individual documents depicted are the original "Schindler's list," a transport order to Bergen Belsen that includes the name of Anne Frank and an invitation from Gestapo chief Reinhard Heydrich to a brunch meeting to discuss "a total solution to the Jewish question in Europe."

Firmin says, "Ehrlich's photographs give us entries in the Buchenwald prisoner logs and death books. They show us medical records that count lice removed from prisoners. They permit us to absorb the sheer magnitude of countless record-lined shelves, and to witness intimate details of people's daily lives told through photographs and personal possessions."

The 50 million ITS documents have played an important role in historical research, family reunification, refugee service and in tracing the fates of countless individuals.

The UB Art Gallery is funded by the UB College of Arts Sciences, the Visual Arts Building Fund, the Seymour H. Knox Foundation Fine Arts Fund and the Fine Arts Center Endowment.

The University at Buffalo is a premier research-intensive public university, a flagship institution in the State University of New York system and its largest and most comprehensive campus. UB's more than 28,000 students pursue their academic interests through more than 300 undergraduate, graduate and professional degree programs. Founded in 1846, the University at Buffalo is a member of the Association of American Universities.

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