Excerpt from Borrowed Time: Survivors of Nazi Terezín Remember by Dennis Carlyle Darling

A Look Inside Borrowed Time by Dennis Carlyle Darling

This week the world observes Holocaust Remembrance Day. The date marks the anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi Concentration and Extermination Camp of Auschwitz-Birkenau by Soviet troops on January, 27, 1945. It was officially proclaimed the International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust by the United Nations General Assembly in 2005. To reflect on what this anniversary represents, we’re sharing a few of the photographs by Dennis Carlyle Darling from his new book Borrowed Time: Survivors of Nazi Terezín Remember. New in our Exploring Jewish Arts and Culture series, Borrowed Time provides documentation, through photographs and interviews, of those who survived the unique Nazi ghetto/camp located at Terezín, Czech Republic.

Dennis Carlyle Darling has photographed and interviewed hundreds of Holocaust survivors who spent time at the German transit camp and ghetto at Terezín, a former eighteenth-century military garrison located north of Prague. Many of the prisoners were kept there until they could be transported to Auschwitz or other camps, but unlike German captives elsewhere, they were allowed to participate in creative activities that the Nazis used for propaganda purposes to show the world how well they were treating Jews. Although it was not classified as a “death camp,” more than 33,000 prisoners died at Terezín from hunger, disease, and mistreatment.

Below are a few of the survivors Darling photographed and interviewed, with brief excerpts from the book.

Praise for Borrowed Time

In 2012, Dennis Darling began photographing the aging and rapidly vanishing population of Holocaust survivors of Terezín, located north of Prague. Many of the Terezín imprisoned were awaiting transport to certain death at Auschwitz and other extermination camps. Since the beginning of his self-assigned series, Darling has photographed more than 150 portraits in seven countries. His sitters are sometimes asked to accompany him to the location of the painful memory to make the picture. Many are photographed within personal spaces and against environmental backdrops that Darling uses to create an intimate and evocative portrait, many in a panoramic format. Each vulnerable face exposes a shared history of a horrendous past with a photographer sensitive to their experience. Darling captures a sense of ‘knowing’ in the survivors; the images give life to virtues like honor, integrity, and courage in the expressions of the victims. They are not portraits of a defeated people, but rather, images of triumph. Darling has undertaken a profound and significant responsibility in the Holocaust Survivors project and exercises a quiet respectfulness in a portrayal of a persecuted people linked by brutalities of war for the necessity of history and humanity.

Polly Gaillard, writer, photographer, educator, for Lenscratch

Images from the Book

Alice Herz-Sommer 

née Aliza Herz

“Few, if any, children could claim the enigmatic Czechoslovak author Franz Kafka as a friend. Nevertheless, Alice Herz and her twin sister Mitzi could.

Kafka was a regular at their home. Originally a friend of Alice’s older sister Irma, he would often drop by to sit and talk with the twin’s mother Sofie—mostly concerning his writings. Alice recalled, ‘Kafka was a slightly strange man, kind, indecisive, and always ‘dressed for the office.’ He didn’t talk a lot, but rather loved quiet and nature. We frequently went on trips together.’”

—from Borrowed Time

Jacky Young

né Jona Jakob Spiegel

“’Three months before our marriage, my fiancée and I had to go along to the Jewish Board of Deputies with relevant documents for our marriage to take place in a synagogue,’ Jacky recalls. ‘Together with my adopted mother and my fiancée’s mother, we went to the offices, whereupon my mother handed over the deed poll papers showing the change of our name from Yanofsky to Young, and also the shortened version of my birth certificate. To my utter astonishment I saw that I had been in a concentration camp, that my real name was Jona Jakob Spiegel and my mother’s name had been Elsa Spiegel. I had been brought to England on a bomber. We all stood there dumbfounded and I became hysterical. I had heard about these terrible places and couldn’t accept that I had been involved. Absolutely shocked, we left the office and went home.’”

—from Borrowed Time

Inge Auerbacher

“Hunger, overcrowding, bad hygiene, mice, rats, fleas, bed bugs, lice, and fear of being sent east plagued us daily.”

Inge Auerbacher

“It made little difference that her father, Berthold Auerbacher, had once served in the German Army during World War I, had been badly wounded, and then had been awarded Germany’s highest military honor—the Iron Cross for bravery. Nor did it matter that the Auerbacher family had roots in the Cimmerian inclines and valleys of Germany’s Black Forest region more than two hundred years before Hitler’s rapacious rise to power. What mattered was that Berthold, his wife Regina, and only child, Inge, were Jews who resided in Nazi Germany.”

—from Borrowed Time

Dennis Carlyle Darling is a retired professor at the University of Texas at Austin’s School of Journalism and Media. His work has appeared in numerous publications and has been exhibited internationally at over 150 venues. He has published two previous books, Desperate Pleasures and Chameleon with Camera.