Holocaust Museum Features Photo Portraits of Local Survivors

The Dallas Holocaust Museum/Center for Education and Tolerance is opening an exhibition of photos by Cole Thompson, entitled “The Ghosts of Auschwitz-Birkenau,” as well as work by Tony Corso, a sixth-grade teacher from Paris, Texas who has photographed portraits of Dallas-Fort Worth Auschwitz-Birkenau survivors. Here’s more information from the museum below, and you can view additional images here.

Photo: Cole Thompson, Auschwitz No. 41 (detail)


About “The Ghosts of Auchwitz-Birkenau” 

What can be said about Auschwitz-Birkenau that hasn’t already been said? What can be photographed at these sacred places that hasn’t already been photographed?

As I thought about what had occurred there, I wondered how any human could do such inhumane things, and then I recalled “The Mysterious Stranger” by Mark Twain. In this story a young boy named Seppi is talking to Satan about a man who had brutally beaten his dog. Seppi declared that this man’s actions were inhumane and Satan responded:

“No, it wasn’t Seppi; it was human – quite distinctly human.”

Satan goes on to point out that no other animal on the planet would treat another creature this way, except humans.

I had not intended to photograph during my tour of the camps but after being there a few minutes, I felt compelled. With every step I wondered about the people whose feet had walked in exactly the same footsteps. I wondered if
their spirits still lingered there today. And so I photographed ghosts.

—Cole Thompson


About Cole Thompson

Cole Thompson was born into a world of black and white images.

Television and movies were in black and white, the news was in black and white and the nation was still segregated into black and white. His childhood heroes were in black and white and these images were an extension of the world, as he knew it.

At the age of fourteen his life changed. While living in Rochester, New York, he read the biography of George Eastman and it inspired him to purchase a Sears photo developing kit. He can still remember the magic as that first black and white image appeared in the developer. He was immediately liberated, no longer consigned to just look, he could now create.

Cole has always worked exclusively in black and white; “For me color records the image, but black and white captures the feelings that lie beneath the surface.”

Cole has been in over 100 juried exhibitions, was named Photographer of the Year by the Black and White Spider Awards, and has had his work featured in publications such as LensWork, B&W, Black and White, Silvershotz, American Photo and PhotoLife.

Cole’s recent work includes “The Ghosts of Auschwitz and Birkenau,” “Ukrainians, With Eyes Shut,” “Ceiling Lamps” and “The Lone Man.” He is currently working on several new portfolios including “Harbinger” and “The Fountainhead.”

Cole Thompson is the CEO of The Weston Group and lives on a small ranch in Northern Colorado.

About Tony Corso

Tony Corso is a former Army brat who has lived in the Paris, Texas, area for the past 20 years, where he teaches public school. Along with his wife, Kathy, the couple raised three daughters.

Having lived in Germany for five years when his father was stationed there in the 1970s, Tony developed a strong interest in the subject of the Holocaust. Passing on his passionate interest to his seventh-grade students, he started bringing his classes to the Dallas Holocaust Museum/Center for Education and Tolerance several years ago. Tony wanted to give his students a firsthand opportunity to hear living survivors share their personal stories.

In the past year, Tony felt compelled to offer his photographic services to the Museum should it ever wish to capture the images of local survivors. An avid photographer who shoots a wide variety of events, from local high school sports to weddings, Tony found this project to be one of the most rewarding experiences not only in his photographic career, but personally as well.