Children on Staircase

Walter Rosenblum

New York, USA, 1919 - 2006
  • Series: 
    Spanish Refugees
  • Date: 
    1946 / Later print
  • Technique: 
    Gelatin silver print on paper mounted on cardboard
  • Dimensions: 
    Image: 34,3 x 26,5 cm / Support: 35 x 27,4 cm
  • Category: 
  • Entry date: 
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Walter Rosenblum, a member of the Photo League – a photography collective based around committed social documentary work in the USA from 1936 to 1951 – and natural heir to the work of Lewis Hine and Paul Strand, represents the documentary photography of social criticism. In this series, the photographer deals with the mass displacement of half a million Spanish republicans in 1939, who had to run from violence and persecution and take refuge in the facilities set up for Spanish Civil War refugees in Toulouse. Many thousands were sent on to Mauthausen and other German concentration camps, where they were treated as criminals. This was seen as one of the first refugee crises in the world, and was widely covered in the media. The series was first published in the Christian Register in 1946, and was later used to raise money for the Unitarian Service Committee Documentation, even appearing on the front page of The New York Times.
In this series, which helped remind the American public of the cause of the Spanish refugees’ plight, Rosenblum was primarily interested in the people, whom he portrayed with humanity and intimacy. Unlike the approach of Robert Capa or David Seymour “Chim”, who communicated the collective abstract suffering of the victims of the Spanish Civil War, Rosenblum pays tribute to the displaced, giving back some dignity to the figures in the photographs.

Salvador Nadales