Foto Rachel


Photographs from the Cyprus detention camps

 

 On August 7, 1946, the British government decided to deport the illegal immigrants to Palestine and detain them there. The Cyprus detention camps were used between August 1946 and February 1949, when they ended and the last detainees immigrated to Israel. During this period some 52,000 immigrants were interned in the camps. The detainees were held in two groups of camps: the five “summer camps," where they were billeted in tents, and in seven “winter camps," in which the majority were housed in Nissen huts, and some in tents.

Rachel Fisher (today 84 years old) was among those sent to the Karaolos summer camp. She was born Edith Kornhauser in the Transylvanian city of Kolozsvár (today Cluj, Romania). She studied photography with her aunt and bought a Kodak camera with her own savings. “This camera has been with me since I was 14 years old," Fisher says, “I bought it in the city and began to snap photographs immediately, everywhere. At first it was a hobby, and later it turned into my profession." In 1944 the Jews of Transylvania were deported to Auschwitz where Fisher lost most of her family and friends. She and her mother survived; after the war they returned to Cluj, where Rachel was reunited with her childhood sweetheart, Yehudah Fisher and they got married. Her mother and the young couple left for Palestine

in December 1947 on the Pan York, an illegal ship. The ship and the Pan Crescent were carrying a total of 15,000 passengers. The British intercepted the ships and its passengers were sent to Cyprus “I needed a dark room. Within days we put up a darkroom in the adjacent tent. Foto Rachel. That’s where I developed my photos. A young Cypriot, who was in charge of the maintenance and later became a friend, smuggled photographic paper and chemicals into the camp. I painted a kerosene lamp red, and by opening and closing the tent flap I set the exposure. One day it worked well, the following day, less so...
People made an attempt to live a routine life. They had children, there were weddings, and even art exhibits. Among the people were artists, architects, painters, and I worked in photography. I made some money and that was an advantage. But every day we waited to be released, so we could go to Palestine."
The main part of the exhibit will center on Rachel Fisher’s photographs. Additional elements will include paintings, reliefs, films, songs and rare postal and philatelist items.


Curator: Guy Raz

Opens: December 1, 2010
Closes: April 2, 2011