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GHOST WORLD
A selection of graveside portrait photography from the
YIVO archives

Download a PDF of the complete article, including images.

When I reached the gate it turned out that neither of the keys fitted the lock, so I climbed the wall. What I saw had little to do with cemeteries as one thinks of them; instead, before me lay a wilderness of graves, neglected for years, crumbling and gradually sinking into the ground amidst tall grass and wild flowers under the shade of trees, which trembled in the slight movement of the air. Here and there a stone placed on the top of a grave witnessed that someone must have visited one of the dead — who could say how long ago.
— W.G. Sebald, The Emigrants, 1993

This series of photographs depicts the Jewish cemeteries of Eastern Europe as they once were: a place of the dead, to be sure, but also a place for the living.


From the archival holdings of the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research, New York.