October 3, 2019
The Photographer of ‘I Met a Survivor’ – Nadine Saacks
Nadine Saacks is a photographer with a passion for documenting people’s stories through images. To bring the concept for ‘I Met a Survivor’ to life, Nadine was approached to instil this passion into what became a 2-year-long project. Her photographs of Holocaust survivors’ encounters with young children, too young to understand the Holocaust, capture incredibly unique and historic moments of their meeting.
We sat down with Nadine to ask her about her reflections on helping this important project happen.
SJM: Tell us about how you got involved in this project. Why this project?
Nadine: I have always had an affinity to Holocaust survivors; their stories are so amazing. So when I was told about this project and was approached by Community Stories Manager Jacqui Wasilewsky, I said “Please include me!”
Being involved in this project, my life was immeasurably touched, by the survivors, their incredible stories, and how they connected with the younger generation on set.
SJM: What were the interactions between the Holocaust survivors and the children on set like?
Nadine: It was wonderful to see the two generations interacting and connecting with each other.
The kids were visibly nervous at the start. I made each survivor sit so they were at the kids’ level. I made sure I didn’t use flasher or bright lights, and I almost stood back and let them find their own connection. So it wasn’t something looming in a studio. – I took my shoes off and was on their level as well. We had a box of props – cupcakes, teddy bears, balloons – so the kids could choose what they wanted to show the survivors, and spark a friendship.
For the survivors, their most vivid memories of childhood are of being touched or caressed by their own parents. On the set, the children held the hands of the survivors, hugged and kissed them, completely spontaneously, without direction. These interactions really gave the project meaning.
SJM: Are there any messages you have taken away from this project, after photographic and now seeing the publication printed?
Nadine: Looking at the photographs in published form, in the book, I reflect on each image and go back to that day in my head, of being on set and the fun we had together.
Seeing these remarkable survivors and young children who had just met for the first time, being so close with them, it was so wonderful to be able to capture those special moments to treasure forever. And now, I can call these people my friends.
SJM: What other projects do you have in the pipleline?
Nadine: We hope to keep documenting Holocaust survivors and children by producing similar books in other community centres. Time is of the essence for a project like this, as survivors will not be around forever. So it is important to pursue this project as long as we can.
For more information on the ‘I Met a Survivor’ book, click here.