By Michael H. Marvins
"Lives Remembered: Photographs of a Small Town in Poland 1897-1939" illustrates Jewish life in Europe before the Holocaust through reproductions of more than 100 photographs of the small town of Szczuczyn, Poland.
These photographs capture the ordinary lives of the residents during the years leading up to the Nazi invasion. These photographs were taken by Zalman Kaplan in Szczuczyn, where he established a business as the local photographer.
Kaplan’s grandson, Michael Marvins, spent years collecting photographs by his grandfather from the descendants of the families that lived in Szczuczyn.
The photographs reveal another side of the small Polish town contrary to the often associated images of Orthodox Jews. They show a rich and diverse way of life that was not so different from our own today. This exhibit puts faces on the millions of men, women and children who perished in the Holocaust. The photographs are of ordinary people leading common lives. The exhibit shows what can happen to everyday people when hate and intolerance are allowed to flourish.
This glimpse into life before the war shows the people of Szczuczyn as similar to many around the world — enjoying life, advancements in technology and living free of labels or hate. Upon close examination, one must wonder, were their lives so different from our own?
This exhibition is generously underwritten by Kempner Capital Management, Inc.; The Wortham Foundation, Inc.; BP America; Bridgeway Foundation; Gainer, Donnelly & Desroches; The Harris and Eliza Kempner Fund; and Marathon Oil Corporation, with special thanks to Continental Airlines, official airline of Holocaust Museum Houston.