I made these photographs last Monday.
To be honest, I hadn’t thought of photographing a cemetery on Holocaust Memorial Day. I was buying king cakes at the King Cake Hub that happens to be located in a building that houses the Haunted Mansion on Halloween. Behind the mansion building, which looks like it once belonged to the cemetery, is The Gates of Prayer – Canal Street.
That name is important. When I tried researching the history of the cemetery, I found The Gates of Heaven. Every link took me a Reformed Jewish congregation and cemetery that is located Uptown. There is plenty of information about them. They have a pretty good website and they have a Facebook page, as does this Canal Street location.
Unfortunately, there is no information about this place.
Enough of my confusion.
My king cake expedition happened to take place on Holocaust Memorial Day, or Yom HaShoah. After “finding’ the cemetery I thought that I’d better make a few pictures. These are some of them.
This is a smallish cemetery tucked in between other cemeteries and buildings. The images reflect that.
I was really struck by the little grave markings that simply said, “Mama” or “Papa.” These were added to the foot of a plot in addition to the memorial markers. They were every place.
Follow the words to the bottom of the page. Please.
The day was cloudy, weighty, and sort of a reminder of the sadness of the place. I let the pictures reflect that. I could have brightened them in camera, but I toned down my usual settings. I could have reworked them in post production, but I didn’t. If anything, I toned them back. These are somber pictures. They are meant to reflect the Holocaust in which 6,000,000 people were killed for no reason.
One more thing.
My interest in this subject is great. When I made catalogs and edited at The Image Bank/Kodak, one of the photographers that I edited had the numbers of a camp tattooed on his fore arm. We talking about it for a few minutes.
Along came Schindler’s List. At the end of the movie, former concentration camp prisoners walk down to a cemetery and place a remembrance on individual gravestones. Most of them were only pebbles which means, “Someone was here.” There on film was my photographer. He wasn’t just a camp survivor, he was one of Schindler’s Jews.
It just goes to show that if you know, you know.