I was greeted warmly by Ingrid and her husband Joel, who lived in a beautiful home in Mission Viejo. We immediately engaged in some discussion about my past photo sessions, in particular recalling my session with Holocaust survivors Hannah and Fred Carter and the issue of making survivors look “raw” in order to capture the viewers emotional response to the images. I explained further to Ingrid that the images I photograph would be taken as we engage in discussion about her story. She seemed comfortable with the process, as detailed, I suspect due to the fact she looks great at a very young 80 years of age. As we began our session, I felt an immediate connection with Ingrid as I learned that she was born in Berlin, as was my father. While my dad was about 12 at the time of Kristallnacht, watching the tragic events unfold from his apartment window, Ingrid shared that her father was taken to Sachsenhausen Concentration camp, and then to Mauthausen, one of the most notorious Nazi Concentration Camps, located on the Danube River in Austria. Fortunately for reasons unknown to Ingrid, he was released and returned home. When Ingrid was three, her family left Berlin for Shanghai, which was referred as “the Paris of the Orient”. This country happened to be the only one on earth accepting Jews at the time. They took the last train of immigrants out of Berlin to Siberia, traveling through Mongolia, and then via a boat from Vladyvastoc to Shanghai. Ingrid’s family lived in an old poor area of town, called Hongkou, which was somewhat of a Jewish ghetto, overcrowded with about 20000 Jewish families, that was shared with many Chinese civilians and Japanese soldiers. Memories of this difficult time are the first Ingrid has, being that she was very young when in Berlin. Her recollections contain some good memories mixed in with some tragic ones. In particular, she recalls at the age of 6 or 7, witnessing a Chinese woman thrown out of a house in order to give birth to a child in a gutter. This event was followed immediately by a Japanese soldier bayonetting the woman and the newborn infant. Obviously this horrific event is something she will never forget. During her time in Shanghai, the most important thing for Ingrid was the Synagogue. This was her life. Despite her family coming from a liberal Jewish background, Ingrid felt very connected to her faith. Years later upon arriving in San Francisco, the family attended Temple Beth Shalom, a Conservative Temple, which reflected even more of a connection, Ingrid thinks primarily due to her mother. Today, Ingrid states that all of her life experiences have resulted in her being acutely aware of the sanctity of life. She reflects if she had grown up in Germany without any of this happening, she would have probably been a “well to do brat”. I can most definitely share that Ingrid’s graciousness as she shared her story proves this is not the case now. We concluded our session speaking about the importance of living life with a purpose, and the obligation to help others. Ingrid says that having survived such difficult times and the fact she is here today, serves as a reminder of the continuance of life and the roles we play in it. The tendency to appreciate life especially after bad things happen is very evident, she says. My thinking is that the light that comes from the darkness of the past, as stated by Ingrid as well as other survivors, clearly serves as a guide in making us all aware of the richness and purpose of the lives we live today.