Czesława Kwoka (15 August 1928 Wólka Złojecka – 12 March 1943 Auschwitz) was a Polish Catholic child who died in the Auschwitz concentration camp at the age of 14. She was one of approximately 230,000 children and young people aged less than eighteen among the 1,300,000 people who were deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau from 1940 to 1945. The colourisation was done by Marina Amaral. You will find her website here, a little about the story of Czesława Kwoka and the process here.There was an interesting piece by Steve Hendrix, in the Washington Post (May 10 2018),Is technology bringing history to life or distorting it?, examining the impact of new digital technology on the presentation and interpretation of history. Examples cited include the colourisation of photos; the use of digital technology to create the speech that JFK would have given in Dallas had he not been assassinated; and the use of powerful interactive techniques drawn from computer games to explain and allow people to participate in historical periods.
I find this an uncomfortable area. I'm not absolutely sure why. The use of dioramas to present historical scenes in museums, for example, has been around for a long time, as have the use of paintings and models. Skeletal reproductions are another example.The recreation of a speech whether by use of voice technology as in the Kennedy case or through the combination of actors and technology as in the case of martin Luther King's “Fill Up the Jails” speech, delivered at Durham’s White Rock Baptist Church in 1960 is more akin to a dramatic performance. They are linked to history, but are not themselves historical works.
Thinking about it, I guess that I have two problems. The first is where the sheer power of the technology overwhelms the history, effectively substituting the presentation for the evidence. The presentation becomes the history, not an interpretation of the history. The second is where the technology alters the evidence in some way, substituting a new for the original.
I have a particular problem with the growing tendency towards colourisation. I am quite prepared to accept that Marina Amaral undertakes careful research to determine which colours to use. I would accept, too, that colourisation can provide new insights. In this sense, a colourised photo become the equivalent of a research paper based on the original photo. The difficulty is that the colourised version often lack context especially since the technique has become so widely available. The simplest rule is not to use a colourised version as evidence at all unless you do happen to know that the original had colour added at the time.
There appears to have been a fair bit of discussion at international level as to how to manage all this to ensure historical integrity. An example is the International Charter for the computer-based visualization of Cultural Heritage. The London Charter 2009.