Eyewitness of horror: the New York museum opens an art exhibition of victims of the Holocaust

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Michael Morris, curator of the Museum of Jewish Heritage in New York, was trying to comply with a current request when he discovered a treasure trove of eyewitness accounts of the Holocaust, drawn in pencil, ink and colored pencil.

“It was a light bulb moment,” said Morris, who put together an art exhibition created by some of the 6 million Jews killed by the Nazi regime.

“Rendering Witness: Holocaust-Era Art as Testimony,” which opens this week at the Lower Manhattan Museum, comes at a time when US anti-Semitic hate crimes. UU. They have skyrocketed and memories of the horrors of the Holocaust are fading.

“This exhibition opposes and educates about the dangers of anti-Semitism, racism and intolerance of any kind,” Morris said, describing the 21 powerful representations of the Holocaust, primarily by Jewish prisoners.

It all started with the request of another institution to borrow some of the pieces from the museum’s collection. When Morris reviewed the dozens of works in his vaults, he knew immediately that it was time for the museum to set up its own exhibition.

“Behind the statistics, and behind the numbers and behind the scenes where we see hundreds of thousands of people in concentration camps, these are real people who had multifaceted lives,” Morris said.

Among them was a 12-year-old girl, Helga Weissova, who brought art supplies with her when they sent her to the Terezin ghetto and the concentration camp, about 48 kilometers north of Prague in the Czech Republic, in October 1944 Before Weissova was deported from Terezin to Auschwitz, the infamous forced labor camp in southern Poland gave his drawings to his uncle, a fellow prisoner who hid them behind a wall.

The program presents its 1943 work in colored pencil on paper, “Transport Leaving Terezin”, which shows armed guards with guns accompanying a group of huddled prisoners carrying suitcases.

Weissova is now over 90 years old and lives in Prague, but many of the artists never left the mortal fields.

A work of art by Helga Weissova appears in the preview of the exhibition “Rendering Witness” at the Museum of Jewish Heritage in the Manhattan district of New York, New York, USA. UU., January 15, 2020. REUTERS / Carlo Allegri

Peter Loewenstein of Czechoslovakia was deported in 1941 to Terezin. He gave the 70 drawings to his mother before being deported in 1944 to the famous Auschwitz camp.

His mother and sister would soon be deported to Auschwitz as well, but not before giving the art to a family friend.

His sister, the only family member who survived the camp, recovered the portfolio after the war, including “Eight men in coats with stars,” a 1944 ink painting on Jewish paper forced to use identification cards.

Equally powerful is a watercolor by Marvin Halye, a member of the 104th U.S. Army Infantry Division. UU., Which liberated the Nordhausen concentration camp in Germany in 1945.

After seeing the few surviving prisoners attending thousands of bodies, he hurried to paint “Liberation of Nordhausen, civilians covering corpses.”

The program, which runs from January 16 to July 5, opens amid an increase in anti-Semitic hate crimes in the United States and particularly in New York City, home of the largest Jewish community outside of Israel.

The anti-Jewish hate crimes in New York in 2019 reached a maximum of 28 years, according to Professor Brian Levin, director of the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino.

In the most recent attack, a man with a machete injured five people gathered last month for a Hanukkah celebration at a rabbi’s house in the suburb of Monsey in New York City.

Only a few weeks earlier, a shooting in a kosher supermarket in nearby Jersey City, New Jersey, left two Hasidic Jews dead.

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Hate crimes are increasing at a time when many American adults lack basic knowledge about the Holocaust.

The biggest gaps in understanding are among US millennials. UU., People between 20 and 30 years. Two-thirds of them do not know what Auschwitz is, said a recent survey of the Conference on Claims of Jewish Material against Germany.

(This story corrects the timeline in paragraph 10)

Barbara Goldberg Report; Edition by Lisa Shumaker

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