The Duchess of Cambridge reunited with Holocaust survivors, she photographed in January 2020, at the Imperial War Museum in London ahead of the Remembrance weekend. The Duchess was visiting the Museum to officially openIWM London’s extensive new Second World War and The Holocaust Galleries – ‘Generations: Portraits of Holocaust Survivors’ – which features over 50 photographic portraits of Holocaust survivors and their families.
Dedicated to conserving, displaying, and interpreting stories of the most devastating conflict in human history, IWM London is the first museum in the world to house Second World War Galleries and The Holocaust Galleries under the same roof. These new galleries will change the way we understand the past for generations to come. Spanning two floors, these vast new galleries bring together the stories of real people from diverse communities to examine the complex relationship between the Holocaust and the course and consequences of the Second World War.
About the visit, Kensington Palace said, “Today’s visit to the ‘Generations: Portraits of the Holocaust exhibition at the Imperial War Museum brought back many memories of incredible people that The Duchess has met in recent years. The new exhibition features over 50 photographic portraits of Holocaust survivors and their families”.
Including two images captured by The Duchess. Holocaust survivors, Zigi and Manfred, who The Duchess first met in Stutthof in 2017 and spoke to again to mark Holocaust Memorial Day this year, appear in the exhibition as do the stories of the Windermere Children”.
Kensington Palace remarked about the exhibitions, “Generations: Portraits of Holocaust Survivors (6 August 2021 – 9 January 2022) aims to honour the victims of the Holocaust and to celebrate the full lives that survivors have built in the UK, whilst serving as a reminder of our collective responsibility to ensure their stories live on. It includes photography by 12 leading contemporary photographers, and has been created in partnership with IWM, Holocaust Memorial Day Trust, the Royal Photographic Society (of which the Duchess is Patron), Jewish News, and Dangoor Education.”
You must remember that to mark the 75th anniversary of the end of the Holocaust in January 2020, The Duchess beautifully captured Steven Frank and Yvonne Bernstein with their grandchildren. The portraits were part of an exhibition that brought together 75 images of survivors with their loved ones to mark the anniversary.
The Museum said about the exhibition, “The new Second World War and The Holocaust Galleries will draw heavily upon the unique personal stories that IWM’s collections contain to present a vivid narrative that reflects the realities of the Second World War, the Holocaust, and the resulting impact upon the world”.
The Duchess was inspired by 17th-century Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer because both Steven and Yvonne have strong links to the Netherlands. The Holocaust Memorial Day Trust tweeted: “We’re so grateful to the Duchess of Cambridge for all her work on Holocaust education and the time she spends with survivors.”
Speaking about the experience, Catherine said, “While I have been lucky enough to meet two of the now very few survivors, I recognize not everyone in the future will be able to hear these stories first hand. I recall reading The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank. Her sensitive and intimate interpretation of the horrors of the time was one of the underlying inspirations behind the images. I wanted to make the portraits deeply personal to Yvonne and Steven – a celebration of family and the life that they have built since they both arrived in Britain in the 1940s.”
During the visit, The Duchess of Cambridge explored displays relating to the experiences of survivors who still keep the memory of the Holocaust alive today before greeting Steven and Yvonne with big hugs. From Daily Mail’s report,
“The Duchess appeared thrilled to see Mr. Frank, saying: ‘Hello! I want to give you a big cuddle!’ She was slightly hesitant as to whether to do so but Mr. Frank swept her into his arms anyway, as she greeted him and his granddaughters, Maggie and Trixie. She appeared touched when he gave her a letter written by an American serviceman to his mother after she sent him a card. ‘I thought you might like to read it,’ he said.
‘Oh, that’s so thoughtful of you, thank you. That’s very special,’ she said.
She thanked Mr. Frank and his two granddaughters for ‘trusting me’. ‘And you were very patient, so thank you,’ she added. ‘I loved the items you chose and the colors. Thank you for your time. You were good sitters. Seeing this really brings back such special memories. We need to tell your stories. That is what is so powerful about this project, the generational nature of it, and the handover of stories. She also hugged Mrs. Bernstein, who was with her granddaughter, Chloe Wright, saying: ‘Hello Yvonne, it’s so lovely to see you.’
‘Ooh, you have cold hands’, exclaimed Mrs. Bernstein. ‘I always have cold hands,’ the duchess laughed. ‘Is it strange seeing your photograph up there? It’s so nice to see you again. I think about sitting so often, it was such a wonderful opportunity. Thank you so much. ‘
The pair chatted about families and Mrs. Bernstein asked the duchess whether, as a working mother, she got much chance to see her children. ‘All the time’, replied Kate, ‘they’re my priority’.
Admiring another portrait of John Hajdu MBE, not taken by herself, the duchess was much taken with a tiny threadbare teddy tucked into his top pocket.
She told Mr. Hajdu, who was born in Hungary in 1937 but now lives in Muswell Hill, North London, with his wife Maureen, and has two children and four grandchildren: ‘Hello, very nice to meet you. Is this your portrait? And is this your teddy? I love your teddy. Mr. Hajdu said, “This little chap came through the war with me.’ ‘He’s in amazing condition,’ said Kate, ‘does he have a name”?
She marveled, again, at the way the museum had told the story of the war throughout personal accounts, saying; ‘It just brings it to life. A lot of people still don’t want to share their stories. It’s amazing. can’t wait to bring my kids.’’
The Imperial War Museum’s new galleries in London display more than 1,500 items from 80 countries that bring to life the impact of the Second World War on millions of people. The Holocaust Galleries, meanwhile tell the individual stories of some of the six million murdered Jewish people through more than 2,000 photographs, books, artworks, letters, and personal belongings.
During the tour of the Museum, The Duchess of Cambridge came face to face with displays on the Battle of Britain – her grandfather, Captain Peter Middleton was an RAF pilot during the war – and had a go at an Enigma codebreaker machine. Her grandmother, Valerie Glassborow, and her twin sister Mary both worked at Bletchley Park during the war. You might remember her last visit to the Museum when she saw many of the details from her Grandfather’s Wartime.
For the day, The Duchess of Cambridge chose a white and Navy look.
Catherine was wearing Catherine Walker Navy Coat that she first wore in May 2021 when she visited the West Midlands to mark Mental Health Awareness Week. The long coat featured a tailored silhouette with long sleeves and lapel collars. It seems the coat was a bespoke number from the British label.
Underneath the coat, The Duchess of Cambridge was wearing her Alexander McQueen Military Blouse debuted in 2011 on a visit to Birmingham and wore it again in 2014 on a visit to Bletchley Park. It was most recently worn in Portsmouth in 2016.
Catherine paired the outfit with a navy ankle-length trouser that remains unidentified.
She topped the outfit with her Anderson Crocodile Embossed Belt.
The Duchess of Cambridge was wearing Sapphire and Diamond Diana Earrings.
Another unidentified item was her navy suede pumps that are believed to be Gianvito Rossi.
Maring the remembrance week, The Duchess was wearing a poppy. We will see Catherine on Saturday at the Festival of Remembrance.