May in JHI

It would seem that the artists who survived the Holocaust and eye-witnessed it, will become silent.

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Barely who knows in what degree the experience of the Holocaust has been influencing the Polish culture which for years has been trying to deal with it and comprehend it. IN no other country in the world have so many poignant works of poetry, prose, painting, sculpture and film been made about the subject of the Holocaust. 

However, their amount does not mean that we better understand humane and inhumane behavior. “Knowing more about the Holocaust, we understand less”, said Rabbi Byron L. Shervin.

The artists have transferred their knowledge about this horrible and incomprehensible events into their own works. Why do they do it? What is their aim? What makes them do it? Can art help with, at least partial, explanation of human behavior in the extreme situations?

It would seem that the artists who survived the Holocaust and eye-witnessed it, will become silent and they want to forget the experienced tragedy. Some have really remain silent, they were not able to express their ordeals. 

The others could not do it. They had to give testimony, become the voice of those who had been murdered. To this group belonged Izaak Celnikier, who recalls after the war:

What we found after the arrival in Auschwitz, was frightening. I remember that we could see bodies everywhere and people dying. I expressed it in the graphic “Arrivée a Birkenau” (Arrival in Birkenau) from the series “ La Mémoire Gravée”.

At the exhibition, a lot of works of the direct participants and witnesses to the Holocaust were presented. However, it did not end there. The subject of the problem of the trauma and the memory after experiencing the Holocaust was taken up also by Polish artists of next generations. Anxieties hidden and suppressed for years (also because of the censorship during PRL) emerge today with great force and still arouse various reactions, in the artists dealing with the Holocaust as well as in the receivers of their works.

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