On Saturday evening I started off painting some journal pages red, black,and white, with a few flecks of gold ink. I was intending to use some templates to put some dancing figures on to it, but then the colours reminded me of fire and blood,and somehow it changed to a spread about concentration camps. I haven't named them, I think everybody knows those awful names, but I have used pictures of the gates which bore the same message at every camp - *Arbeit macht frei*. *Work sets you free*. This was a terrible, cynical motto, meaning that the people should work themselves to death, when they would be free. The average *stay* in a camp was about 6 months, for those who were young and strong, although some survived much longer in spite of inhuman conditions and hardships. I don't want to go into more details. During my time working at the old people's home here, I got to know many survivors. Some had survived over several years, often being moved from one camp to another. One of the ladies said; *My name is Chaya, and that means life in Hebrew, so I told myself every day that I would survive*. She died at over 90, and one can only admire such an indomitable spirit.
In my journal spread I have used many photos of children and others who died.Many children, women and older men were killed straightaway, so as not to waste precious time and rations on them. The images are mostly ripped and unclear, which I have done to show that their lives, too, were ripped and destroyed. The picture of the girl on the left hand page shows Ann Frank, who died in Bergen Belsen shortly before the war ended. On the right side I have written a poem from Nelly Sachs, which I am printing completely here, as I know my writing is mostly hard to read.
*O the night of the weeping children!
O the night of the children branded for death!
Sleep may not enter here.
Terrible nursemaids/ Have usurped the place of mothers,
Have tautened their tendons with the false death,
Sow it on to the walls and into the beams—
Everywhere it is hatched in the nests of horror.
Instead of mother's milk, panic suckles those little ones.
Yesterday Mother still drew
Sleep toward them like a white moon,
There was the doll with cheeks derouged by kisses
In one arm,
The stuffed pet, already
Brought to life by love,
In the other—
Now blows the wind of dying,
Blows the shifts over the hair/ That no one will comb again.*
The little spots of gold ink in the pages represent for me light and hope, especially the hope that things like this will never happen again.
Have a good day you all, take care, and thanks for visiting!