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
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