Portraits of Jews in Wartime Amsterdam - Powerful, Captivating, Profound and Haunting

Dickerman Prints was honored to be selected to print a remarkable, historic exhibition which can be viewed at the Goethe Institut in San Francisco now through April 17, 2015. This is the premier exhibition of the work of photographer Annemie Wolff.

Judith Trijtel - 1943 Copyright: Monica Kaltenschnee

Judith Trijtel - 1943
Copyright: Monica Kaltenschnee

Lost Stories, Found Images

Violence, persecution, unrest and fear were the norm for Jews living in 1943 Amsterdam. Yellow Stars of David were to be worn at all times, and at any moment one could be arrested by the Gestapo and be sent to a Concentration Camp. 

Yet, in the midst of chaos, photographer Annemie Wolff’s portrait sessions offered people a reason to get dressed up and smile: if only for a brief moment in time. 

Six decades later, one hundred rolls of film were discovered in an attic; each roll containing profound portraits of Amsterdam’s Jewish population.

Perhaps the most haunting and captivating aspect of these photographs are the smiles and optimistic gazes that grace the faces of these people. Included are children, infants, and adults of all ages, many of them wearing that Yellow Star of David. 

Little is known about the history of these portraits; which leaves us us to ponder the question of their purpose. Why, at such an incredibly tense time in the middle of a war, would people have pictures taken of themselves and their loved ones? Also, what did Wolff plan to do with the prints and why were the rolls untouched until now? 

Some mysteries have been solved; the box of negatives include a register detailing the names of all of the subjects.  Dutch researchers continue to trace the identity and fascinating stories of the individuals depicted. Most of the images in this show include captions which detail what is known of the histories of their subjects. While about half of the portrait subjects survived the war, these images represent the last trace of the many others who perished in the camps. 

Hilde Jacobsthal - 1943 Copyright: Monica Kaltenschnee

Hilde Jacobsthal - 1943
Copyright: Monica Kaltenschnee

Lost Stories, Found Images: Portraits of Jews in Wartime Amsterdam provides a means of learning, exploration, and creating a space to discuss our collective history, how it affects our current lives, and how we can pass it on to future generations. The compelling images provide an unforgettable experience for viewers to delve into the past, present, and future of the Jewish and human experience.   

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About the Printing of the Show 

All the photographs exhibited in Lost Stories, Found Images: Portraits of Jews in Wartime Amsterdam were prepared and printed by Seth Dickerman.

As Seth wrote to Simon Kool, the show's Dutch curator, 

“I am deeply moved to be involved in producing Annemie Wolff’s portraits. These images are truly great, completely heartbreaking and almost unbearably profound.” 

Seth’s approach was to print this work as if he were printing it for Annemie herself. 

“These portraits are beautifully made and wonderfully lit. They are also extremely professional. There can be no mystery as to how she would want them printed - which would likewise be professionally, and consistently - with fully detailed highlights, open shadows, and most importantly,  to always work to help the subject look his or her very best.” 

Seth feels grateful and fortunate to have the opportunity to print such powerful and moving work. Having printed work by both Vivian Meier and Annemie Wolff within the span of a year has been “a privilege.” 

. . .

On Display through April 17, 2015

After months of work, we proudly invite you to experience Annemie’s work for yourself at Lost Stories, Found Images: Portraits of Jews in Wartime Amsterdam. The exhibition is supplemented by a number of activities, film screenings, and lectures. 

Goethe Institut
530 Bush Street, ART Lounge
San Francisco, California

To learn more about the exhibition and attendant program, please visit JewishFed.org.


Annemie Wolff - Self Portrait Copyright: Monica Kaltenschnee

Annemie Wolff - Self Portrait
Copyright: Monica Kaltenschnee

All photographs on this page are copyright: Monica Kaltenschnee