Fred Herzog, The Globe & Mail’s Marsha Lederman and the “so called Holocaust”

May 14, 2012 § Leave a comment

The above image was created by the extraordinarily skilled and historically important photographer Fred Herzog who shot a lot of post World War II  street photography in Vancouver, Canada. Herzog was recently shortlisted as a potential recipient for the Scotiabank Photography Award.

But this isn’t the biggest news. The real news came when The Globe and Mail published Marsha Lederman’s article where she reports that Herzog used the term “so-called Holocaust” which has ignited a volatile response from the public.

In reference to the mass exterminations he says:

“But there were other books I have read which say much of this was actually delousing. The rooms with the gas were actually delousing rooms, because lice were one of the biggest problems and the biggest killers of Jews in the camps. So it’s something I’d like to see a little bit more carefully, you know, collected: evidence and how the numbers are arrived [at]”

He continues to explain that the Jews would have been better fed:

“there were other factors why there were so many undernourished people in the end, because the low-flying fighter bombers made it impossible to supply these camps with food, so there were many people very emaciated from not eating.”

Needless to say, I am greatly offended and insulted by all of this.

On the one hand Herzog seems to be a smart man as he was able to carve a life out for himself as a poor immigrant and in doing so defined himself as a one of Canada’s most iconic photographers. On the other hand his comments seem to demonstrate the contrary.

I have to recognize that any antisemitic words might have been indoctrinated deep into his psyche via his family. And sure, who knows his current mental state, but Herzog’s excuse of ignorance and an unavailability of documents is no reason to prolong his beliefs.  Although he is the obvious target I do think it’s relevant to wonder about the writer, Marsha Lederman.

One issue that comes to mind is if these comments were said “last fall”. Why did the Globe sit on the article for seven months? Did they specifically time this with the Scotiabank Award shortlist so that they could sell more copies? What’s going on here?

I can’t help but question Lederman’s involvement – as a child of Holocaust survivors not only does her personal story creep in but how could she possibly write an article from a neutral bias? As the tone of the article indicates, she clearly can’t nor does she attempt to.

This topic brings up the quintessential question:

Can you like the art and and not the artist?

-Jeremy Kohm


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