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Gerhard Richter’s Birkenau: Holocaust Photography Displaced and Displayed


17 Nov 2021, 5:00pm





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The photographs taken by a member of the Auschwitz Sonderkommando around Crematorium V in the summer of 1944 are some of the most important images from the Holocaust. In this talk, Dr Williams consider one major recent response to these photographs by the painter Gerhard Richter: the series Birkenau (2014). He will discuss the paintings themselves, created by reproducing and then overpainting the photographs on four large canvases. He will also situate them in the context of their showings, especially their installation (in digital reproduction) in the entrance hall of the Reichstag building in Berlin.

Dr Dominic Williams is a Senior Lecturer in the Humanities at Northumbria University. Having taught at Leeds, Reading, York St John and Southampton universities, Dominic’s work is interdisciplinary and often collaborative. His most recent book on the Sonderkommando (published by Palgrave Macmillan in 2019) considered post-war witness borne by survivors of Sonderkommando in trials, memoirs, video interviews and films.


This event is held jointly with the University of Huddersfield’s Centre for History, Culture and Memory.


*All our events are recorded, so if you are unable to make it on the day please sign up for a ticket and we will send you the recording!