Of one-and-a-half million surviving photographs related to Nazi concentration camps, only four depict the actual process of mass killing perpetrated at the gas chambers. Images in "Spite of All" reveals that these rare photos of Auschwitz, taken clandestinely by one of the Jewish prisoners forced to help carry out the atrocities there, were made as a potent act of resistance. Available today because they were smuggled out of the camp and into the hands of Polish resistance fighters, the photographs show a group of naked women being herded into the gas chambers and the cremation of corpses that have just been pulled out. Georges Didi-Huberman's relentless consideration of these harrowing scenes demonstrates how Holocaust testimony can shift from texts and imaginations to irrefutable images that attempt to speak the unspeakable. Including a powerful response to those who have criticized his interest in these images as voyeuristic, Didi-Huberman's eloquent reflections constitute an invaluable contribution to debates over the representability of the Holocaust and the status of archival photographs in an image-saturated world.
Georges Didi-Huberman is professor at L'Ecole des hautes etudes en sciences sociales in Paris. He is the author of more than thirty books on the history and theory of images, including Fra Angelico: Dissemblance and Figuration, also published by the University of Chicago Press. Shane B. Ellis teaches at the Universite de Savoie, France.