Posted Ian Shulman
The great writer and mystifier Bruno Schulz left a plethora of puzzles, myths and hidden chambers in two thin booklets of essays. However, one of his lesser-known and most challenging riddles was forgotten under a thick layer of paint in one of the former villas of Drohobych.
Bruno Schulz has emerged as one of the most important writers and innovators of the Polish language in the 20th century, his works translated into 39 languages. He was born in 1892 in the then Austrian (later Polish and now Ukrainian) town of Drohobych to Jakub Schulz, a Jewish cloth merchant. The provincial oil town on the outskirts of Poland and the fading visionary image of his sick father later became the key characters of his magical metaphorical prose. Apart from being a writer and a painter, Schulz was earning his living as a school teacher.
He never left Drohobych for an extended period of time; the Nazi invasion of Poland trapped Schulz within the town's ghetto. In order to save his life, Dziunia Szmer, a friend of Schulz's, put him into a life-prolonging contract with a Nazi officer Felix Landau. As an ‘indentured Jew’, Bruno Schulz had to catalogue loot, make cliché verres and drawings and produce inlays, as well as paint murals in at least four different buildings in Drohobych - the SS casino, a new annex to the riding hall, the former Jewish orphanage and the ‘play room’ of the mansion Landau had confiscated. The officer lived there with his mistress, the Gestapo secretary and former dancer Trude Segel, along with the children from his first marriage, Wolf-Dieter and Helga.
On the 19th of November 1942, Schulz was shot dead on a street in Drohobych. His murderer is believed to have been Karl Günther, Landau’s rival. However, Schulz was murdered on the day of ‘Black Thursday’, coinciding with the massacre of 230 other Jews in the ghetto; identifying the actual killer of Schulz is thus difficult.
The murals of Schulz were painted over and subsequently forgotten. So were Schulz’s essays, rediscovered and appreciated only decades after his death. Despite an intense search for them, none of the murals were ever found.
In 2001 German film director Benjamin Geissler came to Drohobych , together with his father the writer Christian Geissler, hoping to discover the lost ‘fairy tale mural’ in the former playroom of Landau’s villa. Their search and its outcome are described in Geissler’s documentary ‘Bilder Finden’ (‘Finding Pictures’). With the help of Alfred Schreyer, the last living student of Bruno Schulz, Landau’s villa was identified; a closer look at the walls of a present-day storage room in a private apartment revealed the shapes of Schulz’s images. An official commission of Polish and Ukrainian experts arrived at the spot and, having uncovered some fragments of the mural, verified that Bruno Schulz was the author of the paintings. The next step was to obtain international funding needed to professionally uncover, restore and preserve the murals.
Nonetheless, the discovery of the seemingly lost mural was not the end of its mysterious story. Shortly after the finding, representatives of Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial, removed three fragments of the mural and transported them to Israel. The act was claimed to be illegal, since such appropriation could only have been possible with the special permission of the Ukrainian Ministry of Culture. Another five fragments were removed in 2002 by Ukrainian restorers.
The controversy over national claims to Schulz’s heritage, which broke out right after the Yad Vashem incident, was naturally triggered by the region’s diverse background, so typical for pre-war Central Europe. For Yad Vashem, Schulz is a Holocaust victim and his murals are part of a Holocaust story. For Poland, Bruno is a Polish writer, innovator of the Polish language and literature, and last but not least, a Polish citizen. For Ukraine, he was a resident of the Ukrainian town Drohobych, and this is exactly where the very mural was created and later found.
Yet according to Benjamin Geissler, Schulz’s work cannot be torn apart, neither metaphorically nor literally. Geissler suggests the characters Schulz depicted in his last mural are not merely fairy tale figures, as expected in the decoration of a children's room. On closer observation, one can unmistakably recognize Felix Landau on his beloved horse, his lover Gertrude, Schulz’s mother and many other subtle images among the depicted characters. Schulz’s mural is a Brothers Grimm tale on the surface and a Holocaust story, likewise a personal tragedy on a deeper level, says Geissler. Turning a task demanded of him into something much more meaningful and personal was an act of both childishness and prophecy, inherent to Schulz's art. It’s because of its messages that the mural cannot be separated and can only be viewed in the way it was created, in the way its elements were placed in relation to each other.
Luckily, there is still a chance to see how the room used to look. Benjamin Geissler has created a 3D model of the chamber with pictures, and it was recently exhibited in Martin-Gropius-Bau in Berlin. Once one enters the model of the dark narrow storeroom, Schulz’s drawings start to project on each wall, accompanied by a mysterious tune. Outside of the 3D installation, one can read about the life of Bruno Schulz and the story of the discovery and loss of the mural.
Despite having perished over 70 years ago and remained virtually unknown for years after his death, Schulz's work appears to attract more interest with every passing year. Yuri Andrukhovych, a renowned Ukrainian writer and poet, who took part in a panel discussion during the exhibition, said he felt sceptical about publishing his translation of Schulz’s works into Ukrainian. It was not only about the great responsibility of translating the complicated metaphorical language of Schulz, but also about the unclear demand for this book in Ukraine. However, the edition was sold out faster than estimated, even by the bravest of expectations. Over the last few years, Bruno Schulz has been transformed from a complete stranger, a weird Polish Jewish ghost from the past into a local genius, a beloved figure from Drohobych for many Ukrainians. Andrukhovych claims his translation is meant to make Schulz even more accessible to the Ukrainian reader; he tried to unload the complicated text of unnecessary polonisms and local words, inherent to some previous translations, and pay due attention to the rhythm and pace of the text.
Andrukohvych’s colleague Yuri Prokhasko also took part in the discussions, and not only due to his own fascination with Schulz’s prose and story - Prokhasko himself served as Geissler's assistant during the filming of ‘Bilder Finden’ in Drohobych.
The Schulz exhibition has found its place among an immense series of memorials and exhibitions called ‘Diversity Destroyed’, taking place in Berlin in 2013. Under the caption ‘Berlin 1933 - 1938 - 1945,' it approaches the wartime European tragedy from the perspective of the flourishing diversity characterising pre-war Europe. The fantastic and mysterious semi-fictional and real worlds of Bruno Schulz, who as the exhibition introduction states ‘was born as an Austrian, lived as a Pole and died as a Jew’, is certainly one of the last and most intense embodiments of this epoch.
Edited by Benjamin Geissler and Dmitri Macmillen.
6.15.13 at 11:16 pm | Jewish City Pass- new summer opportunity for. . .
6.15.13 at 11:12 pm | The great writer and mystifier Bruno Schulz left. . .
6.15.13 at 11:10 pm | AJC Access and AJC Global Forum 2013 -. . .
4.18.13 at 1:25 am | Thomas Soxberger was born in 1965 in Lower. . .
4.18.13 at 1:23 am | Today is April 10th … a significant date for. . .
4.18.13 at 1:15 am | As she was passing by some girls in their. . .
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7.25.12 at 12:48 pm | Unfulfilled murderers, domestic sadists – nice. . . (62)
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April 18, 2013 | 1:07 am
Posted by Klaudia Klimek
Everyone who knows me, knows that I like to participate in various trips, events and seminars organized by Jewish organizations. I always meet someone interesting, learn something useful and see a new place.
The March of the Living is one of the few events, which negates all three of the above, however this was not the reason that I did not take part until I was 25 years old. I already had had several occasions in the past, but the idea of this event never quite moved me, encouraged me, perhaps I did not feel invited?
This year I decided to find out for myself what the March of the Living is really like and seized the occasion to participate with my good acquaintances, as well as those just met a couple days earlier at a seminar - people who came to the march from all over Poland. It is worth noting that the group traveled to Oswiecim as an official group of Polish Jews. We held flags of the Socio-Cultural Association of Polish Jews (TSKŻ), the Jewish Agency for Israel in Poland, as well as the white and red flag of Poland. Since I had somewhat of a chance to see behind the scenes of the seminar preparations and our presence at the March, I must admit that even before we arrived in Oswiecim I felt disappointed with the March of the Living (MOTL) organization’s approach to us, Poles and Jews in one.
But let’s start at the beginning - what the March of the Living is. On the official website we read that it is an annual educational program, which aims to inform participants about the history of the Holocaust, and examine the roots of intolerance, prejudice and hate. Indeed, this is quite interesting, but why is it that the organizers want to teach us about these matters in Poland specifically? Poland was the location of many concentration camps, I agree, but we will not find the history of the Holocaust here. That story began much earlier than the camps themselves; it was many years of politics, events and bad decisions, which led to someone like Hitler taking power. If we want to confirm history with the landscape, then I invite you to Berlin and Munich, then only lastly to Poland. The concentration camps were the final strokes of Hitler’s sick politics, and not its beginning or the idea itself. As for prejudice and intolerance, Poland is also the wrong address, since it was known to Jews for 700 years as a place that they called home. This is not clear to everyone. One of our friends was called a “Polish asshole” as she was walking through the Camp with a Polish flag in hand. The sender of this message was a girl wrapped in an Israeli flag, though she was American.
Reading further the MOTL website, we arrive at the topic of the three kilometer march in silence. It is far from silent, dear readers. The march begins in Auschwitz I. A horrible crowd mills at the toilets, I was witness to some 50+ ladies bidding over who had the worse kidney disease and pushing each other out of line. I immediately thought of the story of one prisoner, who described how women supported each other near the toilets, giving each other those few moments to relieve oneself, by standing around the person on the “toilet”, so that others could not push her off. But that is just an anecdote that came out of nowhere, maybe it was because of such anecdotes that I couldn’t camp out like the others, by the walls of the barracks with a sandwich and a cola in hand.
In the description of the idea behind MOTL we read that a week before the March participants visit a place which was once a haven for Jewish life. Attention, attention - in most of these places there are still Jews cultivating their traditions and religion. If the organizers of the March wanted participants to have a dialog with Polish Jews they would have contacted us beforehand. Here the situation is quite the opposite – Polish Jews had to solicit for months for permission to participate in the March. A bizarre situation! Not only does one pay for participation in the March, and not a small sum, then you have to plead to enter the camp, which is open every day to visitors for free. That’s not all; you have to stand in the proper place assigned and marked for your country. Each group receives a map to position themselves properly for the March. Imagine my surprise when I saw that Polish Jews stand at the very end, next to groups from Austria and Germany. I could not believe my eyes, checking the plan several times. I was convinced that we should at least be near the head of the march, this was quite a disappointment. Unperturbed and unyielding we pushed in front of the group from Los Angeles, ripping the tape which barred us from the Arbeit macht Frei gate, in a gesture of cooperation and support for each other.
Another matter is the presence of former inmates, survivors of the Holocaust. Several times already I’ve had the chance to attend meetings with survivors who told their stories. The young do listen and even feel it, but too bad their memory is short. While in Camp I, before the March started, I was witness to an older man with a cane crossing the square – a former inmate. Too bad no one noticed him, it is not a sight one will see often. Speaking of former prisoners and how grateful everyone is for them being there, surviving and coming to such ceremonies to testify history. After the ceremony ends, first leave diplomats and high position people. It takes quite a long time, because of the regulations, rules, protocols. Former inmates and spectators are at the end. Then organized groups go into the buses and former inmates to the bus stop. No one thinks to provide these seniors with a decent mode of transportation to and from the Camp. After the spectacle, let the actors worry about getting home on their own.
In closing, I will recall the last sentences from the official March of the Living website, which speak about how youth after the march return to Israel strengthened in their Jewish identity, remembering the Holocaust and more engaged in their local community. At what and whose cost, I ask? At the cost of history not quite told, staged emotions, an omitted dialog, future generations from across the water thinking that there is no Jewish life in Poland?
I went to the March of the Living with a critical attitude but also with a will to change my views and give it a chance. Unfortunately, the event did not redeem itself in my eyes. Regardless, it will take place next year and the year after, and for a few or a dozen more. I have no qualm with that, in fact I support it, but only with a different narration and let some use come of it.
March 19, 2013 | 7:47 am
Posted Pavel Pustelnik
The poetry of Naftali Herz Kon was finally released from the imprisonment of the Polish Archives.
In January this year I was exploring complicated happenings around the poetry of Naftali Herz Kon. The poet was accused of espionage and all his archives were confiscated in the early 1960s (Read more here). A battle between the courts and Kon’s daughters Ina Lancman and Vita Serf took years. When it was finally decided that the State Archive should return the property to the inheritors, procedural issues aroused.
Today, finally the poems are free. - First we got through all the formalities. The Director of the Archives read aloud the operative part of the judgment, which put the Archives under an obligation to return the literary estate. It was an extremely emotional moment. The daughters cried and I was on the brink too as the emotions got to me after such a prolonged battle – says prof. Tomasz Koncewicz, who was working on Kon’s issue. Indeed, it was a long battle set in the realities of slow Polish courts, which seemed to miss the whole point and did not understand who absurd the whole situation was. - It is hard to believe but to get the literary estate back to their rightful owners I have written more than 1000 pages of interventions, pleadings, statements… You name it! – says Koncewicz, passionate about the problem.
When we met with prof. Koncewicz in January this year he was sure that one day the poetry would be returned. Even though, we started to plan a poetry evening consisting of a broad historic background of the story, readings of the poems both those then available and those that would be “set free”. There was hope in his voice, but nobody could be sure when the issue will be solved. – During the commemorative evening with the poetry of Kon on 7th of March at the Center of Rabi Schorr in Warsaw I even quipped that that all this would make up decent novel “Lost in the Archives”. – prof. Koncewicz says today. – I make fun of all this now but I will never forget that 6 months ago the mood was much more somber and I was desperate – he adds.
It was not easy to predict what is hidden in the boxes imprisoned in the Archives. Everyone was expecting poems, but as we see now, there is much more. - There is some amazing content hidden in the Kon’s papers. Apart from the priceless poetry, there are intimate letters, notes and photographs. One document, which is most symbolic, is the original of the Kon's release order from gulag in the fifties! – says prof. Koncewicz who had a chance to assist in receiving the documents.
- All in all it was a wonderful and fulfilling day for all of us. The case is a powerful proof that justice and dignity stand for something after all – Koncewicz sums up.
Now the documents need to be ordered with great care. They were kept in the Archives for over 50 years. When Koncewicz first saw the files in 2010 they were covered with dust. It was obvious that nobody was touching them, perhaps the lawyer was the first one since the 1960’. Lancman and Serf are planning to translate the documents to English and Polish.
All photographs related to this text courtesy of TT Koncewicz.
March 19, 2013 | 7:45 am
Posted Michał Zajda
First, one must ask the question, what was the so-called people’s government in Poland? Right after the Germans yielded, I am purposely avoiding the word ‘liberation’, the Soviets dictated their way of running the country. The system, which was forced on Poland, wasn’t Lenin Bolshevism anymore, not to be mistaken with Marxism, but a Stalinist totalitarian emanation of it. The Stalinists got rid of the opposition very quickly, by putting them in jails, or exterminating them physically, callously and ruthlessly suppressing the smallest forms of resistance. Until Polish October (or Gomułka’s thaw – ed.) in 1956, soldiers of the underground resistance were being destroyed, their fight against the Nazi invaders marginalized and they were attributed with the biggest war crimes.
The Holocaust, globally the largest crime in human history, was slowly becoming a weapon in the fight against Polish patriots. If someone spoke of bandits in the forest, they couldn’t have meant anybody else than the Armia Krajowa (Home Army – ed.) or the National Armed Forces. They were accused of collaborating with the enemy, which was the official basis for trials and later sentencing of the leaders of the Polish Underground State (PPP) to death. Unfortunately, such thinking still lingers in the minds of the unreflective part of society, which repeatedly looks for signs of supporting the Holocaust in PPP’s actions. This is, and must be made completely clear, wrong - from the ground up. PPP’s aim was to protect citizens against the German aggressors and as is known, Jews were full-fledged citizens of the pre-September Poland, that is, until this country was invaded and then swept away by the Nazi-Soviet machine of destruction!
But the Polish state, meaning the civic community, has suffered most in the war. Nearly four million people were killed (the number is impossible to determine, yet according to statistics Poland was populated by around 35 million people in 1939, that number fell to 24 million) and thirty percent of the national wealth was destroyed or stolen. Poland lost nearly seventy-seven thousand square kilometers of land! What more is there to say, just look at a photo of post-war Warsaw… After the year 1956, the routine use of force against Polish patriots stopped, but the verbal bashing continued until the regaining of sovereignty in 1989. Then, the perception of responsibility for the crimes of the Holocaust was subject to a more pragmatic view. Yet the mental effects dug into the Polish awareness very deeply, filling out the guilt with a kind of negation of certain historical facts. Why? From the very beginning, the so-called socialist historiography, in other words – propaganda, stuffed the Polish society with very specific “truths”, which passed for reality. Quite clearly, they suggested that the Pole, as inherently good, guided by their own worldview could not allow the szmalcownictwo (blackmailing for profit) and other war crimes against the Jewish people. He had evil and deceitful leaders! How nice and pleasant for all, easier to accept.
Quite an interesting observation seems to be a semantic fact, used mostly by non-democratic systems. Please note, that whenever the word “truth” is abused it often legitimizes the “untruth”. So the more one seeks to know the truth, the more he/she does not want to know it. Also, I have the impression that today this principle refers to certain specific cases. The Smoleńsk wreck is crowning proof – without bowing in any direction, it is clear that in this case, the “truth” is a political tool in the hands of both sides of the conflict over “the truest truth”. Nobody wants to reach it, because the lack of knowledge gives a lot of leeway which is very convenient for both sides. Just divagations about the service of “truth” in the world of “untruth”… so much on this topic, I’ve written too much anyway!
The tragedy of the Holocaust became a powerful, ideological weapon in the hands of the communists. We should keep in mind that the main arena for the crimes of the Nazi genocide were lands that are in accordance with the Yalta order, that prevailed at the end of World War II, in the Soviet sphere of influence. The communist propaganda twisted the facts, mainly by giving imaginary numbers of victims – these actions usually concerned Auschwitz, as a symbol of the Nazi crimes. Why? Many times during the “real socialism” or “communism with a human face”, as party notables used to call the PRL (People’s Republic of Poland – ed.), one could hear of about six million murdered in Auschwitz, or more accurately, yet still far from the truth, information about three million murdered. On the basis of reliable historical research, we can now say that this number is believed to be around one million one thousand. It is known to anyone interested in the matters of genocide by the Germans in 1942-1945, that the camp in Auschwitz couldn’t have murdered the number of people mentioned earlier.
What was the purpose of these manipulations then? The Federal Republic of Germany in the Cold War propaganda was presented as the primary enemy of the Republic of Poland, because it combined the long-standing aversion towards Germans as the eternal adversary of Poland, besides it pointed to FRG as the direct ideological heirs of the perpetrators of the tragedy of war. The effect of such thinking about the „revisionists from Bonn”, as the inhabitants of Western Germany were commonly called in the media east of the Elbe, was assigning them the will to change the Oder-Neisse border. That is where, according to eastern propaganda, Nazi war criminals were hiding. Again, that is where the gains of Nazi eugenics were used and the money stolen from Poles, as well as Jews, was being laundered. It was the border agreement created on December 7, 1970 that "calmed down" the propaganda and began to slowly and timidly, regulate the relations, diplomatically, as well as economically.
So the tragedy of the Holocaust was a bargaining chip in the hands of the communists, in shaping domestic policy. It served to drag the families affected by this disaster onto their side. For a limited time. In 1968 the myth burst like a bubble and the delusion of a good communist gave way to cold-blooded, cunning, political calculation. Jews weren’t needed anymore. They changed from victims and became a partner, standing at the side of the class enemy, the American imperialist. The rhetoric of “backstabbing” could be used again as an irreplaceable antidote for all injustice. Of course, an escalation of violence could not happen again, yet twenty years after the war, people were going through an ideological déjà vu… A simple man could have thought, WE helped you disinterestedly, and this is how YOU repay us? To Israel, we don’t want you here in Poland anymore. Such thinking from a simple man was expected by the “people’s government”!
History has come full circle…
March 10, 2013 | 5:26 am
Posted Michał Zajda
I was intrigued by the recent commotion regarding the alleged insults thrown at the Radwański sisters by tennis pseudo-fans in Israel. Obviously, we are not talking about real fans here, only plain „rebelious boors” of the sort that are beloved by the fatherly figure of the establishment of true Poles, Staruch, the star of a recent episode of Jan Pospieszalki’s talk show. But to the point. Today, that is the 1st of march, during Kontrwywiad on RMF FM, Polish Minister of Foreign Affairs Radosław Sikorski informed the listeners that the Polish ambasaddor or his staff „contacted the Radwański sisters’ coach, who said that he did not hear anything and he is not asking for diplomatic intervention”.
But first thing’s first... On February 12, on my favorite website niezalezna.pl, we read as follows,
„During the match with Israel in Euro-African Region, Group I, the Radwański sister double from Poland was called out to by Israeli fans. We received informatoin that the tennis players were addressed as „Catholic bi....s!”. The media were silent about this, but we managed to get confirmation of this news from a member of the Polish tennis crew. There is even a discussion regarding this on Agnieszka Radwańska’s official Facebook page.”
And here is the confirmation of this information, „One ought to keep a certain form at the tennis courts, but their behavior was very, very rude”, Dawid Celt told Niezależna. Celt is a member of the Polish tennis crew, who played a Friday match against Israel. During the game, the Radwański sisters were insulted by the fans. Apart from offensive remarks, the court was also littered with paper planes. The Polish Tennis Association did not wish to comment the matter.
Celt did not want to fan the flame and did not comment the remarks made from the stands. „The fans did not behave appropriately for the venue and the significance of the event. They did not behave as tennis fans should, they disturbed the game, crying out. I can’t say what they were yelling”, Dawid Celt says.” – End of quote.
From that context it appears that it was all so offensive that Mr. Celt cannot say what it is they were yelling... or perhaps he just didn’t understand? But if he couldn’t understand, then that just means they weren’t yelling right – of course! The vigilant, independent, always oppositionist and unsuccessfully persecuted organs of the true Poles, have rapidly deduced that the regime-like, anti-Polish media, dominated by the Michnik-esque Judeo-communists have simply decided to stay silent. Basta!
I cannot comprehend, with my perhaps somewhat limited historian’s brain, how this trivial incident, which surely took place, could have become such a huge media event. I recommend visiting any football match in Poland and listening to what the „fans” are chanting in the stands... and thus comes the question. Doe the Israeli Minister of Foreign Affairs issue statements of protest? I am under the impression that we are dealing with some sort of manic psychosis, combined with an international coddling-deprivation syndrome.
But what made a great impression on me is the attitude of Agnieszka Radwańska herself, who commented in a very laconic, but meaningful way, on the behavior of part of the Israeli fans, who insulted the players by calling them „Catholic bi....s” – she said, that such behavior was sad and unfair. She is right of course! It is sad and offensive. But Agnieszka herself said this once, and then went on to her training, in order to promote Poland and herself with her quality of play. It should be noted, that during the tournament she defeated every opponent, got on the plane and returned to Poland. What more is there to say... Case closed.
The Polish team’s achievements and wins at the Federation Cup in Eliat became secondary for many, I believe; what was important is that „they’re offending us over there”...
Dear Readers – I am not denying the fact of a verbal assault against these innocent women, I do not think that Israeli hooligans are any better than Polish ones. I do, however, oppose the accompanying narration! Niezalezna.pl and similar such media ex cathedra, treat such hooligan antics as the official position of one ethnic group toward another. This is both sad and false.
Today, Poland remembers the day of „banished soldiers” – people abandoned by the system, marginalized and destroyed brutally by the communists. I won’t have it, for Staruch and other criminals, who chant „f...k the Jews” in the stands, to shield themselves with the banners and images of heroes, when such events take place today. In today’s Gazeta Wyborcza, I read the following words in an interview with Catholic University of Lublin professor, Dr. Rafał Wnuk, „The anti-communist message of the „banished soldiers” is an attractive banner, for radical communities to unite under. We can’t forget, however, the goal of this anti-communist mobilization in our country, where communism fell nearly a quarter of a century ago. Here lies the essence of this manipulation. Its aim is to portray the „banished soldiers” as a symbol of resistance against the current state of Poland, a country considered by some to be subordinate or involved with communism. I am very hopeful that this day of remembrance will not evolve in that direction.”
I do not refer to this holiday here without reason. I am guided by the idea of promoting the values connected with it, but I am also hurt by it being appropriated by these extremes, involved with criminal circles, which insult others and wipe their mouths with ideas of which they have no comprehension whatsoever.
Leaving this unpleasant topic, I will allow myself the support of a few quoted lines from My Żydzi polscy (We Polish Jews) by the unforgettable Julian Tuwim,
Jestem Polakiem, bo tak mi się podoba. To moja ściśle prywatna
sprawa, z której nikomu nie mam zamiaru zdawać relacji, ani
wyjaśniać jej, tłumaczyć, uzasadniać. Nie dzielę Polaków na
"rodowitych" i "nierodowitych", pozostawiając to rodowitym
i nierodowitym rasistom, rodzimym i nierodzimym hitlerowcom.
Dzielę Polaków, jak Żydów i jak inne narody, na mądrych i
głupich, uczciwych i złodziei, inteligentnych i tępych, intere-
sujących i nudnych, krzywdzonych i krzywdzących, gentelmanów
i nie-gentelmenów etc. …
I am Polish, because I like it that way. This is strictly my private matter, which I do not intend to relate, explain or justify to anyone. I do not group Poles into the „true born” and not, leaving it to true-born and not true-born racists, native and foreign-born Nazis. I separate Poles, same as Jews and other nations, into the smart and the dumb, honest and thieving, bright and dim, interesting and boring, harmed and harming, gentlemen and non-gentlemen etc. ...
February 25, 2013 | 12:22 am
Posted Dana Addadi
The Queen of almost' is a solo drug show written by Hadas Bashan for Talula Bonet.
Talula Bonet is a drug queen created by the young actor Tal Kallai 12 years ago, and up to now was mainly assigned with the biggest gay party lines in Tel Aviv
This is the first time Kallai has given Talula a stage to reveal her wishes, and personal voice. Talula tells her story, how she almost became the ultra-star of Tel-Aviv's great cultural life. Moving from the Kibbutz to the big city, she was sure she'll fast become famous and admirable for her talent.
Sounds like you have a lot of empathy to the character, even though it seems like it is the type of a person most of us will despise
We hear a lot of people getting out of the show, saying they found themselves in Talula's story: single ladies, gay guys, and obviously most of the people living in Tel Aviv, who are all familiar with "the almost" syndrome we talk about in the show. Apparently, we recognized a fundamental element; most people can identify with and share.
You have been going on with Talula's drag shows for over 12 years.
How much of Talula you have created is in Bashan's play?
Before this play, Talula mostly served as a side-kick in different TV shows and big entertaining gay events in order to add glam and color to them. She had never had the chance to "tell her story" right, so no one really knew who she really was, including me. Bashan sawed the pieces of her past together into a full picture, and Dudu Yzhaki's musical management contributes greatly to the way we wanted to tell it.
You were brought up in Jerusalem, where you also took your studies in the prestigious acting studio of Nissan Nativ's.
How would you compare what Tel-Aviv has to offer to the gay community with what Jerusalem is offering?
People may not know this, but even though it seems that everything happens in Tel Aviv, including the most significant gay party lines and events, Talula was actually born in a gay bar in Jerusalem, alongside with my fellows to the process where the group of drag queens "The holly Wigs" set their place. I'm proud to say that this is where Talula started, and all of us in "Holly Wigs" still keep a special place in our heart for to the first gay bar to accept us there.
I keep a new tradition now to perform every Monday in MIKVE- the new gay bar in the holly city with my weekly solo show: GEVALD
February 25, 2013 | 12:19 am
Posted Pavel Pustelnik
Never again – this is probably the best name for a museum that was created to commemorate Holocaust.
Outside the building is cold and rough. The walls are not welcoming, even if touched by dazzling February sun. The very end of Mall, not far away from waterfront, in the immediate vicinity of the Washington Monument - the US Holocaust Memorial Museum is located somehow aside, just not to spoil the merry atmosphere of the National Air and Space Museum or the National Museum of American History Police around, “Taste your water, Sir” at the security, which is not unusual in the US, but still uncommon when entering a museum.
The main bright hall does not announce the traumatic content of the museum. There is a lot of space, it seems that the building is breathing and enjoying the sun as if it was alive. In order to enter the exhibition, guests are asked to enter a large elevator. It is not obvious if it was an intention of the constructors, but being crowded on a small space starts to bring some associations. First floor, second, third. The elevator does not hurry.
The three floors of the Holocaust Memorial Museum are incredibly packed and as you walk the rooms, artifacts, life stories and pictures weave the perplexing history of genocide that happened in Europe. The authors of the permanent exhibition decided to offer most of the information in the first rooms so that the visitors understand what they are going to see later. Large print boards, movies and pictures that set the scene for the next rooms. At the beginning you feel the urge to take notes, to remember, to know, to have the number at hand, but after some time it becomes fastidious, impossible, pointless.
The Museum unfolds the story chronologically. Paradoxically, the more you know the more you believe that there will be a happy end. Perhaps the whole death-fuelled machine will break at some point. It will just stop digesting the atrocities. This is obviously not the case. Next room. The broadcast is becoming more and more brutal. Some of the screens are protected in a way that children cannot see the content. The machine works and is well oiled. A room filled with shoes brought from Auschwitz, the foul smell that is so omnipresent at the original site, people starting to break down in tears.
The US site is not too interactive as it should not be. It is painfully explicit and educating in all three parts it offers: “Nazi Assault,” “Final Solution,” and “Last Chapter”. Each visitor experiences different range of emotions. Without a shadow of a doubt, the US Holocaust Memorial Museum leaves you with many questions, the most basic being “How was this possible?” The answers given by the Museum’s narrative are straightforward but still, you just want to question the nature of a human being, if Holocaust was possible.
More than 34.1 million people visited the Museum since it opened in April 1993. There are more than 16,385 objects gathered, with an average of six to seven new items acquired each week. The US Holocaust Memorial employs 400 people.
(more pics here)
February 25, 2013 | 12:11 am
Posted Ian Shulman
How should a Holocaust art look like? Are there any functions which it needs to execute? Should it follow any cautious guidelines; inspire any actions or thoughts; inform, remind or alarm? Adolf Frankl’s permanent exhibition in Vienna, called ‘Art against oblivion’ (‘Kunst gegen das Vergessen’), seems to have its own mission too. Yet his paintings approach Holocaust from a very personal and, therefore, a very unobvious viewpoint.
Adolf Frankl was born in 1903 in Bratislava and studied art with renown Slovak artists of his time. During his studies he also worked as a cartoonist and a painter. Being Jewish, In 1944 Frankl and his family were captured and transported to Sered’ concentration camp. Having spent a bit more than a month there, the painter was deported to Auschwitz. Later Frankl was moved to a typhus barrack in Althammer (Stara Kuznia), a neighbouring camp of Auschwitz. In 1945, he was saved by the Red Army. Right after his rescue, the artist moved back to Bratislava and started to work on his most prominent creation, inspired by what he has seen during the Holocaust - the cycle ‘Visions from Inferno’. In 1949 the communist regime has forced Frankl to leave Bratislava again, his ‘beloved native town’ as he called it in the names of his paintings. This time the artist has left his town forever. Frankl lived in Vienna, New York and Germany and died in Vienna in 1983.
Frankl has devoted more than 50 years of his life to art. Learning painting in the interwar Central Europe, the artist couldn’t remain unaffected by the major tendencies, which have drastically changed the fine arts. His works were to a certain extent inspired by Chagall, Picasso as well as by lesser known artists.
Holocaust is not the only topic of Frankl’s countless paintings - but among his cartoons or scenes of the pre-war life in Bratislava or Vienna, it obviously plays the central role. The artists takes a very individual touch to the representation of this topic. According to the memories of Thomas Frankl, the artist’s son who runs the exhibition in Vienna, Adolf has hardly spoken about his Holocaust memories. Instead, these memories were voiced through his art.
But apart from artist’s war memories and sketches, Frankl’s works feature many reflections, full of hidden and apparent comparisons, symbols and metaphors. Thus, Frankl constructs Adolf Eichmann’s face from the bodies of suffering victims (‘Adolf Eichmann - anthropomorphic description’); while countless faces, figures and Bratislava city patterns can be found on a mosaic-like ‘Remembrance of the Bratislava rabbis’. Being an important element of Frankl’s inspiration, Bratislava is beautifully portrayed on ‘The approaching doom’, where mysterious faces and images, symbolizing the nearing disaster, have filled the sky over a picturesque city skyline.
The dynamism, inherent to Frankl’s paintings, is aimed to depict the transformations, which happen to human nature in times of disorder. These transformations are, again, approached from a metaphorical, maybe even slightly ‘naive’ viewpoint (which is rather mentioned in the context of ‘naive art’ than literally). ‘The tornado’ portraits ‘the eruption of evil and the animalistic inhumanity are portrayed in the numerous figures’, and ‘The persecutors’ intends to ‘describe the hatred of human creatures becoming animals. It is the wild animals with their bloodthirsty mouths chasing the weak and defenceless ones’.
Apart from the permanent exhibition in Vienna, opened in 2006 at Judenplatz, the historic center of Viennese Jewish life, Frankl’s paintings have been presented at various shows during the past forty years in Austria, Germany, Israel, Poland, the USA, Italy, and, finally, in Slovakia.
Slovakia has an especially significant meaning in this list. Thomas Frankl recalls accompanying his father in his trips to the Austrian borderline, where only a border fence separated him from his beloved city of Bratislava. Frankl could clearly see the Bratislava castle and the city skyline on the other bank of the Danube, on the other side of the Iron Curtain, with no hope to ever come back to the city of his birth. Years after the artist’s death in his ‘Viennese exile’, his paintings have eventually passed the already fallen border.
Frankl’s art offers an offbeat approach to the hard and constrained topic of Shoa. Being very personal by default, these paintings do not aim to win the masses. Yet, their ability to fascinate and puzzle does not need to be proven.