The passenger ship S.S. Providence brought Holocaust survivors from various ports in Europe to Haifa, Palestine, in 1947-48. Although the majority of ships attempting to bring Jewish refugees to Palestine were technically illegal and in defiance of strict British immigration quotas (the S.S. Exodus 1947 is the most famous example), the British permitted a limited number of people to legally immigrate, including the passengers of the S.S. Providence. Vishniac photographed the passengers who had been liberated from Nazi concentration camps and were survivors from the Bergen-Belsen Displaced Persons’ Camp and the nearby Blankensee children’s home, when the ship departed from Marseille Harbor. The Passover seder, which commemorates the liberation of the Jewish people from slavery in Egypt, must have served as a poignant reminder of the survivors’ own recent ordeals as they prepared for their new lives in Palestine. Roman Vishniac’s entire archive of recently discovered negatives, spanning the 1920s to 1970s, includes a large body of previously unknown material documenting the lives and experiences of Holocaust survivors and Displaced Persons in postwar Europe. As the result of generous contributions from a large number of foundations and individuals that supported the work of the Vishniac Archive over the past six years, all of his negatives are now digitized at the highest possible resolution and publicly accessible online for the first time, in partnership with the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum:
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To see more images from the recently discovered S.S. Providence series, please explore ICP’s recent exhibition, Roman Vishniac Rediscovered, which is now online. This ICP traveling exhibition opened in Amsterdam, where it will be on view through August 24, before traveling to Paris, Warsaw, Houston, San Francisco and several other venues.