Being Jewish, I grew up hearing about the Holocaust and the concentration camps. I remember watching newsreels in Sunday school, staring in silence as piles of dead bodies were shoveled into mass graves, as human skeletons in striped uniforms peered through barbed wire fences, as babies were torn from their mother’s arms. I read stories about these places and heard about the nightmares experienced there from Holocaust survivors I have had the privilege to meet along the way.

I decided to go to these places to see them for myself. I had heard about the ovens, but nothing prepared me for the shock I felt standing in front of one. I knew about the ponds where human ashes were dumped, but no one could have described the anguish and profound sadness I would feel as I stood there watching the water seep into my shoes. I wept at these places. I also made pictures there. The ghosts were all around me. I tried to be respectful of them.

These are pictures not only about places, but also about the people who died there. At least seven million people left their footprints here before they were murdered and discarded. In my work I have tried to acknowledge and honor their presence, to suggest a now-sacred place where beautiful and meaningful lives were needlessly snuffed out. As a photographer, I felt the responsibility to bear witness to the places where so many were killed, to pass on this visual information before the physical evidence eventually disintegrates and disappears.