Tronche-Macaire Marks Anniversary of Liberation of Concentration Camps | Webster University

Tronche-Macaire Marks Anniversary of Liberation of Concentration Camps

It was January 70 years ago that survivors of the Auschwitz concentration camps were liberated.

Barrack bunks (Auschwitz II - Birkenau)ST. LOUIS (April 8, 2015) – Dominique Tronche-Macaire, an adjunct faculty member in the School of Communications, visited the grounds of Auschwitz 22 years ago.“It’s very emotional, of course. Movies and images can be quite powerful. It’s really something different to be there; to see the actual location is pretty shocking,” said Tronche-Macaire.

For the May Gallery’s annual photography faculty exhibition earlier this year, Dominique Tronche-Macaire chose to exhibit black and white photos he took during his trip to Auschwitz.

He had not shown these photos at the faculty show before and, in fact, had shown them only twice before at exhibitions in the suburbs of Paris the summer after he took them. He decided to show them this year to mark the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the camps. The anniversary date, January 27, 2015, fell within days of opening of the faculty exhibition.Crematorium (Auschwitz I)

Tronche-Macaire had an interest in Auschwitz and World War II even before visiting the camps. Although born in the United States, he grew up near Paris, France. His father is from eastern France and grew up in Alsace, which borders Germany and is somewhat Germanic in culture. He has family from Germany including a German uncle who fought in World War II.

“It’s mind-boggling to think a very sophisticated European culture could turn to this kind of horror and evil nonsense. The level of sophistication of the process; the way everything was thought out; making it efficient and economical; it was so perfectly organized. Then those same people went home and listened to Beethoven and Bach and drank champagne. For a Westerner, that is what is shocking. All this is very difficult to grasp.Gas chamber (Auschwitz I)"

Tronche-Macaire’s photo of the gas chamber is especially significant to him. “When you’re in there and you think about what actually happened - you’re in a room where tens of thousands of people were killed by gas. It’s impossible to imagine. They (the Nazis) pretended they were using chemicals for delousing. Maybe some people believed it but most probably didn’t. They knew exactly what was coming. If you looked on the walls, you could see that they were scratched by people trying to get out. It’s horrifying.”

For Dominique Tronche-Macaire, photos of Auschwitz are just a reminder of the place and its history. They can help people understand, especially students who may not be familiar with it or who may not have had a history course that covered the Holocaust. Photos can’t capture the feelings you experience when you’re there. Documentaries on the Holocaust such as “Night and Fog” and USC Shoah Foundation video testimonies could do a somewhat better job. “This is something that’s so fundamental in the history of the world,” said Tronche-Macaire.  

April 14 beginning at sunset is Holocaust Remembrance Day.