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[The Vanished World]
1936-1938 (taken) 1977 (print)
Swann Galleries - New York
Swann Galleries (Auction Oct 21, 2008, Lot 98), © Mara Vishniac Kohn
Vishniac recounts in the introduction, "With photography I could save at least a memory of Jewish life and culture, and the faces of the people . . . From 1933 to 1940, I was arrested and imprisoned on every occasion that the police suspected me of taking pictures of the Jews. Destiny saved me from the extermination camps but I was in several concentration camps only to escape and return to photograph more of Jewish life.
Everything I photographed was done with hidden cameras--my films with a 35mm movie camera, my stills with an old Leica and with 2 1/4x2 1/4 cameras. The Leica was wrapped around with a handkerchief and the film exposed as I wiped my brow. The Rollei was kept under my coat with the lens protruding though an enlarged button hole.
For the portfolio I have chosen a cross-section of the many pictures that I took, 16,000 in all. Every time, for every situation, just one picture, never more. I did not have the film, the money for the film, or the place to buy the film. I therefore had to limit myself to only one picture. From these pictures only 2000 negatives survived, so it was hard to make the decision as to which would represent the whole story of the ''vanished world.'' But it is a cross-section, showing old and young, everybody working in spite of all the difficulties, in spite of all the persecutions and limitations and the boycott."