Memorial Without Witness
On Display Now through November 30, 2024
In July 1987, Dr. Charles W. Sydnor, Jr., VHM's Senior Historian, accepted an invitation to speak in Frankfurt. His colleague, Professor Joachim Russek, suggested a trip to Poland to visit Auschwitz. While there, he experienced the former killing center as few tourists have – a nearly empty memorial site.
For several hours, Sydnor walked among the ruins of the infamous Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp by himself. With only his camera and the ruins to keep him company, he took hundreds of black and white photos. Memorial Without Witness features a curated collection of Sydnor's images, enlarged to wall-size panels so that the visitor can see and feel what it is like to walk alone among the rubble and decay of the Nazi's most notorious death camp, Auschwitz.
Two million people visit the site each year. But on a warm afternoon in July of 1987, Dr. Charles Syndor walked the sacred grounds alone capturing a Memorial Without Witness.
About the artist Dr. Charles W. Sydnor Jr.:
Dr. Charles W. Sydnor Jr. is a highly respected historian of the Holocaust and World War II. He provided the United States Department of Justice and its Office of Special Investigations with expert testimony in twenty-one court cases involving former SS concentration camp guards and Nazi death camp collaborators. Most notably, in the case of Ukrainian guard John Demjanjuk, who was found guilty of being an accessory to the murder of 28,060 Jews at the Sobibór extermination camp. Dr. Sydnor has also served as the Virginia Holocaust Museum’s Executive Director from 2013-2015, and is on staff now as Senior Historian.