Sweet Noise: Love in Wartime
Sweet Noise is a book that takes a compelling look at the secret romance of two lovers waiting to be deported to Auschwitz. Professional photographer and APA member, Max Hirshfeld, shares his parents’ love story before, during, and after the Holocaust.
The story is told through the memories passed down to Max and the letters his parents exchanged during their separation after the war. He builds upon this with powerful images he captured during his mother’s powrót to Poland and Auschwitz in 1993. Along with this are a collection of essays written by Michael Berenbaum and Stuart E. Eizenstat.
Max’s parents, Polish Jews who survived the Holocaust raised him in a small city in Alabama, where life in the South of the 1950s and 1960s was quiet and mostly idyllic. But lurking under the surface was a remarkable yet tension-filled history that fully revealed itself only after he had a family of his own. Max knew the outer perimeters of his parent’s story - the challenges of being Jewish in a place that increasingly alienated them, their individual trajectories as they moved through adulthood, and their chance meeting and secret romance in the Polish ghetto.
But it took that pilgrimage to Poland with his mother in 1993 (and the discovery of post-war letters between his parents) to more fully acquaint him with the depths of their tragedies and the exceptional love story that sustained them throughout separation until they were reunited in the USA in 1949. This journey with his mother was an influential moment for Max’s work and his respect for the power of documentary photography.
Though Sweet Noise features events that began seventy-five years ago, the material is eerily timely. As Eastern Europe grapples with this horrific legacy, and many countries are reassessing their responses to mass immigration, those in a position to bear witness need a supportive environment wherein art and language serve to remind the world what can occur when hatred and the concept of ethnic cleansing are given free rein.
Max Hirshfeld was born in North Carolina in 1951 and grew up in Decatur, Alabama. He moved to Washington, DC to study photography at George Washington University, graduating in 1973. His work has been shown at the Corcoran Gallery of Art, the Kreeger Museum and is represented by leading galleries in Washington, DC and Boston. He has won silver and bronze awards from the Prix de la Photographie Paris and been featured in both Communication Arts and American Photography. Hirshfeld’s editorial work has been published in The New York Times Magazine, Time, Vanity Fair, and other US publications, and his advertising work has been showcased in campaigns for American Airlines, Amtrak, Canon and IBM, among others. Sweet Noise: Love in Wartime is his first book.
Michael Berenbaum is an American scholar, professor, rabbi, writer and filmmaker, who specializes in the study of the Holocaust. He is currently the Director of the Sigi Ziering Institute: Exploring the Ethical and religious Implications of the Holocaust, in Los Angeles. From 1997-1999, he served as President and CEO of the Survivors of the Shoah Visual History Foundation. Berenbaum played a leading role in the creation of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum where he served as Project Director (1988-1993). He also served as Director of the USHMM’s Holocaust Research Institute (1993-1997) and as Deputy Director of the President’s Commission on the Holocaust (1979-1980).
Stuart E. Eizenstat is an American diplomat and attorney. From 1977 to 1981, he was President Jimmy Carter’s Chief White House Domestic Policy Advisor. In the Clinton Administration he served as US Ambassador to the EU and was also Special Representative of President Clinton and Secretary of State Madeleine Albright on Holocaust Era Issues, bringing Holocaust restitution and justice issues back onto the international agenda. He has held many other key roles for the Clinton Administration and after, received nine honorary degrees, and other awards from the governments of France (Legion of Honour), Israel, Germany, Austria, France, Belgium, and the USA.
Sweet Noise: Love in Wartime is available now. Click here to learn more.