Earlier this month, the Duchess of Cambridge took a series of photographs of survivors of the Holocaust, to mark 75 years since the liberation of Auschwitz. The powerful portraits, which were shared via Kensington Palace on Sunday, included survivors Yvonne Bernstein and Steven Frank along with members of their family. And now, Steven, has opened up on a touching aspect of the image that he considers very special.
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Speaking on Monday's This Morning, the 84-year-old spoke movingly about the image, and explained his granddaughter's teddy was a special feature. "I'm there with my two grandchildren, Maggie the older one and Trixie the younger one," he began. "It's a beautiful, beautiful photograph. And the thing I really loved is Maggie's little teddy bear lying there, so peacefully, in her lap. It's sort of made the whole photograph." In the photograph, he is pictured holding a pan his mother used to help feed him and his brothers in the camps and a tomato from his garden.
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Steven Frank and his granddaughters were photographed by Kate
Amsterdam-born Steven survived the Westerbork and Theresienstadt concentration camps. During his appearance on This Morning, he opened up on the harrowing time he spent in the camps. "We saw soldiers marching down the street with guns over their shoulders, something that we'd not seen before, and that was quite exciting. We had no idea of the sinister intentions." He continued: "[We were] overcrowded, packed in there like sardines, the stench that built up if you can imagine, the oxygen level within the cattle truck was dropping, people had difficulty breathing."
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As well as Steven, the Duchess photographed Yvonne and her 11-year-old granddaughter Chloe Wright. In the image, Yvonne can be seen looking at her German ID card, stamped with the letter J to mark her as a Jew. The Duchess's portraits will form part of an exhibition by the Royal Photographic Society, The Jewish News and the Holocaust Memorial Trust later this year, bringing together 75 powerful images of survivors and their family members with the aim of honouring the victims of the Holocaust and celebrating the full lives that survivors have built in the UK.
Kate said she was inspired to take the images by her childhood reading of The Diary of Anne Frank, and said the stories of those who survived the Nazi genocide of European Jews should "never be forgotten". Mum-of-three Kate said: "The harrowing atrocities of the Holocaust, which were caused by the most unthinkable evil, will forever lay heavy in our hearts. Yet it is so often through the most unimaginable adversity that the most remarkable people flourish. Despite unbelievable trauma at the start of their lives, Yvonne Bernstein and Steven Frank are two of the most life-affirming people that I have had the privilege to meet. They look back on their experiences with sadness but also with gratitude that they were some of the lucky few to make it through. Their stories will stay with me forever."
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