One look at the pages of this wrenching book will tell the story. Roman Vishniac, secretly, in some cases, shot thousands of pictures of the Jewish population of Eastern Europe, shortly before they were swallowed up by the Holocaust.
Young, old, in-between are shown going about their ordinary lives, some already paying the price of the prevalent Eastern European anti-Semitism, virtually oblivious to what was coming their way.
You can't look at these pictures and not shudder: certainly no one in these pictures can still be alive, and it's not just because of the passage of time. Most of the people photographed here lived in the smaller villages, segregated in many cases from the Gentiles, wearing clothes that quickly and easily identified them to their destroyers.
Vishniac shot an estimated 16,000 pictures, but managed to get only about 2,000 out when he fled to the United States in 1940. We should be grateful for what he's given us, and mourn all that was lost.
I was amazed at the quality of the images and the sensitive approach to what has become an amazing record of that,which many of us could only imagine from verbal accounts.It is without doubt the best photographic recording of a society which was to be brutally decimated. Vishniac's photographic artistry in my mind are on a par with Cartier Bresson whom I greatly admire. Thanks to the publisher for printing such a wonderful book.