What is life like with the memory of the Holocaust? The self-help organization Amcha dedicates itself to the commemoration of Shoah survivors. On behalf of the organization, laif core photographer Helena Schätzle travelled to Israel to accompany people and their families for several months. She followed the traces of an unforgettable past through three generations: “Moments shaped by profound loneliness, fear and grief and the consequential thoughts and emotions and patterns of behavior. But also moments of hope, of a regained joy of the present, and of utterly striking vitality and affirmation of life,” says the photographer. Traumas and their psychosocial consequences is a topic the photographer has focused on repeatedly. Her approach to those affected with honest interest and plenty of time, to accompany them in their daily life, is certainly one of the most important aspects of Schätzle’s work. It forms a foundation of trust, which allows for multifaceted snapshots reflecting an entire life story.
The work “Devoted to Life” was exhibited at the Auswärtiges Amt in Berlin and in the garden of Bellevue Palace. Related to the exhibition, moderated tours and a workshop talk were given, and a book was published by Nimbus. Apart from photographs and interviews with the survivors, short films were produced (online at http://amcha.de/leben/). Schätzles work received strong resonance not just in Germany, but was also presented on Israeli television.
Here is what Lukas Welz, CEO of Amcha Germany e.V., says:
“From our perspective Helena Schätzle belongs to this small group of young and talented photographers, who are capable of merging visual aesthetics with the sensitivity necessary for documenting contexts of such manifold complexity. She has successfully developed her own imagery, capturing and documenting thoughts and emotions – aspects of traumas, hardly visible and therefore extremely difficult to illustrate. This work was only possible in close cooperation with the portrayed subjects, which in turn asked for empathy of the highest measure, a lot of time and energy, to prepare the ground for this interaction.
We are extremely thankful to have found in Helena Schätzle such an exceptional photographer for the project and our causes, who excelled in all these aspects.”