MIAMI (WSVN) - A man got a history lesson from a stranger after photos were uncovered of his family’s time in a World War II internment camp.
A Miami woman’s recent discovery led her to track down the rightful owner.
“They were very important to my family. They were the only link to my great-aunt,” said David Semmel.
Semmel reacted to the recent discovery of never-before-seen black and white photos of his family, including pictures of his mother as a teenager.
The pre-war pictures were found in the Miami home of Silvia Espinosa-Schrock.
Espinosa-Schrock is an art history teacher at Miami Dade College, who originally purchased the random box of photos for $5, in New York back in the 1990s.
“People selling things, books and things on the sidewalk, they put a blanket and they sell knick-knacks, junk, you know, who knows. I happened to browse, just curious to see what they were selling, and then I saw the box. It was opened and I could see dozens, maybe hundreds of old black and white photos,” said Espinosa-Schrock.
She found a name written on one of the pictures and thanks to the internet, she was led to Semmel’s blog.
His blog documents the life and history of the Polish town of Przemyśl where his family originated.
“I immediately recognized the old photos as being in Przemyśl,” Semmel said. “The four people that we ended up figuring out, they all grew up in Przemyśl.”
The collection also included never-before-seen photos of an internment camp that held about 18,000 Jews during World War II — with many of them being deported to Auschwitz, where they were killed.
Semmel said the pictures gave him a new perspective on relatives he knew very little about.
“I’m looking at dozens of photos of her, not as a 12-year-old, but as a woman, as a mother, as a wife, living in France, frolicking by the beach, being a real person, and it was incredibly moving,” he said.
Semmel didn’t want the priceless collection to just sit in his attic, so he donated the photos to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, hoping they’ll one day help others the way they helped him.
“The Holocaust Museum gets 10 million [hits] a year,” he said. “It’s a permanent repository, it’s important stuff to remember.”
The Holocaust Museum collects Holocaust-era documents, photographs, videos and artifacts to help better understand its history and to bring its lessons to future generations.
To date, the museum holds more than 114,000 historical photographs and images.
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