To Bear Witness

The Immigrant Story and The Glenn & Viola Walters Cultural Arts Center invite you to visit 
“To Bear Witness: Stories of Survivors of Holocaust, Genocide and the Atrocities of War.” This collection of photographs and accompanying profiles, originally created for display at Oregon Jewish Museum and Center for Holocaust Education, celebrates the extraordinary lives of men and women who have endured unthinkable cruelty elsewhere in the world, only to resume productive lives in their new homes in Oregon.

“To Bear Witness” takes its name from the words of the late Nobel Prize-winning writer, activist and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel, who emphatically proclaimed, “For the dead and the living, we must bear witness.”  The survivors of the Holocaust and other atrocities of war who are represented in this exhibition are united by the troubling truth that human despotry sometimes knows no bounds. But each image and the story alongside it is also a portrait of courage and human resilience. We present these stories in hopes that they will inspire, inform and possibly instruct.

The Immigrant Story is proud to join with the lauded Portland photographer Jim Lommasson, building upon his project, “Stories of Survival,” originally produced in collaboration with the Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center.  His work focuses on objects survivors were able to carry with them on their perilous journeys. Responding to his photographs of the objects, the participants add handwritten testimonies — stories, memories, poems, drawings. Their stories speak to the luminous inner life of these ordinary things and testify to the unspeakable anguish of lives forever left behind. Ordinary objects thus become sacred objects.

They have so much to tell all of us. And so, we must Bear Witness.