alchemy of “the other”

The ultra-orthodox in Israel desecrated the Yad Vashem holocaust memorial this past week, and though one cannot really condone the act, the graffiti extensive as it was, is an expression that the narrative of the holocaust has been appropriated by those running the state, the ruling secular elite, to use the holocaust as an underpinning for Zionism, and positing the necessity of a Zionist project in light of the tragedy. It is basically a secular and racial argument with little religious undercurrent dominating the dialog which is presented as secular enlightenment forces opposed to the counter-enlightenment reaction spilling into mass murder. Events such as the transfer Agreement of the 1930’s negotiated by Mapai, labor Zionists, with the Nazis that permitted 70,000 German jews to leave with their assets in exchange for purchasing industrial goods is not mentioned.

—As a photo journalist I was able to join them in their celebrations, but it was made abundantly clear to me that other journalists in the past have sensationalized their behaviour. Yes, they are drunk. Yes, there were under age kids smoking. Yes, there were grown men doing summer saults down the middle of the road. However, they insisted that this was all part and parcel of their religious belief.—Read More:

Effectively, it left the Easten European jews to their sort without so much as a blink of conscience, then disparaged the Holocaust survivors that eventually made it out of the DP camps into this “promised land”; an attitude of condescending import and derision even; Arendt’s account of holocaust testimony at the Eichmann trial is proof enough that the real banality of evil is in part the treatment of secular elitist jews against the Eastern, traditional Europeans.

( see link at end)…The poor women – most of them believed that their husbands and fathers were really working, and they hoped to see them again. It seems that the murderers forced a number of people before the slaughter to write letters to the families. The Meschans from David-Horodok brought the letters and sucked the last piece of clothing or jewellery from the women in exchange for the letters….

— The symbol of the pilgrim on the precarious, threatening road of life was common in medieval painting. The two outer wings of The Haywain depict a poor, fearful and emaciated middle-aged peasant, with his possessions strapped to his back, glancing behind him at a scene of robbery while fending off a vicious dog.
He is about to step on a bridge that is too thin to carry even his weight – a reminder that the next step in life may bring disaster or death. On the right of the painting carefree peasants dance to a bagpiper seated under a tree. In the background a crowd is gathered for a hanging while nearby stands a tall pole surmounted by a wheel on which the bodies of executed criminals were displayed. Altogether it is a scene of threat and fear. Although the work is badly painted and probably all by assistants, the design is certainly by Bosch, who used it in a later circular panel.
Read More:

…The women believed deep in their hearts that this was all an illusion. They wanted to believe that God wouldn’t do such a thing. I knew the men would never come back. But I didn’t want to spoil their wive’s little bit of hopeless hope. They were murdered by the S.S. stationed in Luniniec with help from the local residents of David-Horodok. From Luniniec they came to Lachina, David-Horokok. That was on a Sunday. With the excuse that there are damaged roads and a bridge to be fixed, all men 16 and older had to be gathered in one place called the Grebli, near the bridge of the River Horin….

—“Unspeakable” opens with Morris Kestleman’s 1943 painting Lama Sabachthani (Why have you forsaken me?), a rare British artistic response to news of the atrocities known to be taking place against the Jews in occupied Poland.
Following the liberation of Belsen in April 1945 British War Artists were brought into close contact with the stark realities of the Nazi concentration camps. Unspeakable will include work by Leslie Coles, Doris Zinkeisen, Eric Taylor and Mary Kessell who responded to the overwhelmingly distressing scenes with images that sought to convey detail and narrative.
 At the end of the Second World War a number of Holocaust survivors revisited their experiences and memories through paintings and drawings. Survivors Alicia Melamed Adams, Roman Halter and Edith Birkin who settled in Britain after the war have created work that captures the ongoing legacy of loss, desperation and separation. —Read More:

….There were about 2,700 of them. They marched them 10 or 12 kilometres from the city, put them in rows and machine-gunned them one row after the other. They told the poor victims to get undressed for inspection in case somebody had a weapon. Many were only wounded. Just the same, they put them in the graves, one row on the top of the other. The ground was trembling and shaking. The people were still alive in the graves and tried to get out. No one got out alive. The fresh, warm blood flowing and the dead bodies pressing on them – vanished in agony….

—Bosch sees the “son of man” in humanity as such, wandering lost about the dark earth, cut off from any connection with the spiritual world, and longing to find it again. As Bosch did not paint abstractions, he shows a person, or rather the portrait of an individual soul on the threshold of death, swaying between Good and Evil—Read More:

…Our holidays – the New Year and Yom Kippur – got nearer. On New Year, in the evening, we had services at the synagogue. The second day of Rosh Hashana, the S.S. arrived in Stolin. I can’t describe the way they were driving through the streets. Through the windows we saw their murderous faces. Suddenly there was a knock on the door. Our house was surrounded and three drunken, bloodthirsty faces of the locals rushed in the house and dragged our brother away. How they missed me, only God knows! This was the last time I saw our brother Maishe. Three days later we discovered that he was tortured to death. They stabbed him repeatedly with daggers, tore him limb by limb and poured salt and iodine on the wounds….

Leslie Cole, Sick Women and the Hooded Men

elsen, 1945 Read More:

Shpetrik, the teacher, was with him in the same room. They let him go. A month later he died.

Our brother died the second day of Rosh Hashana 1941. Around midnight his sacred soul breathed its last in the jail of Stolin. Our sister Gonia watched the jail through her window across the street and she noticed a wagon coming out of the gate and she recognized our brother’s jacket. She came to me crying “We lost our dear brother!”

Six months later, a policeman told me where our brother’s body lay. We found his body in a shallow grave. We buried him in his Tallis (prayer shawl) near Aunt Goldie’s grave. Lyova, his son, wept and said the Kaddish prayer. The face of our martyred brother was beginning to decay. However I recognized him – his beautiful hands were not quite touched. We buried him stealthily for fear of the S.S. For me, there started after our brother’s death, those dreadful days. …

…Soon the news reached me that they also shot all the men in David-Horodok and chased out the women and children from the city. Everything was done by the S.S. commandos who came from Luniniec and local collaborators….

—Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao lays a wreath as he visits the Auschwitz concentration camp memorial to commemorate the victims of the World War II in Auschwitz, south Poland, April 27, 2012. (Xinhua/Ye Pingfan) —Read More:

The poor unfortunate women and small children from David-Horodok and Rubele were driven out and in their presence, all their possessions were looted. I have no words to describe what they went through. From Chaiyeh, Jacob’s sister, they tore off Jacob’s boots which she wanted to have as a memory of her brother. I heard their cry from the little island, but I could not help them. The members of the population called Meschany helped to chase them out of the city. The sick who could not walk were shot. The women with small children couldn’t take anything with them, and yet tried to manage with the children on their arms, to carry a few things which the wild mob, thirsty for the loot, took away from them. If somebody had shoes on, they made them take them off. Read More:


( see link at end) …The professionals, like tailors, carpenters, cobblers, worked day and night and their pay was a daily beating. The villagers took advantage of us. Each one of us used to wear something extra to trade in for a piece of bread. As soon as the S.S. found out, they used to check our pockets. God forbid if a piece of bread was found. Bit by bit, we were destroyed morally, mentally and what kept me alive, I don’t know.

When somebody died, we didn’t mourn. We said at least they will not suffer. I could not stand to wear the yellow stars. They were pressing on me like tons of weight. We all knew what will happen to us later. Somehow we had informers which for good pay, brought to us the bad news about what was happening to the Jews in other cities.

No other subject was discussed but food. We somehow found ways to smuggle food into the ghetto. And again the dark rumors started to circulate that all the Jews in the ghetto will be shot. And then, the horrible day came.

Until the ill-fated day before Rosh Hashana, 7,000 people lived in the ghetto of Stolin. We dug our own graves in the Dobrin forest. Everything was planned ahead. All perished. The graves were ready.

They were all disrobed first, led to the graves and shot. Hundreds were buried alive. Children – some were only slightly wounded and the villagers who were watching, out of mercy, so that the children should not suffer, split their heads with spades.

As long as I live, I will never forget the last night in the ghetto. I can’t forget the voices of our beautiful young girls: “We want to live! We want to live!” The night was dark. And police with flashlights were cruising around the barbed wire outside. they got the poor people in more of a panic. They kept on shooting non-stop. From time to time, I ran out and back to our parents. We kissed each other and pressed your pictures to our heart. Father said his prayers, looked at me with beautiful sad eyes.

He looked like he begged me that I should forgive him for bringing me into the world. Mother washed herself. Said prayers and was ready to die. Read More:

The walls of the Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem were painted during the night before Monday with ten large instances of graffiti in Hebrew writing. According to WELT, among the writings were slogans like “Hitler, thanks for the Holocaust,” and “The Zionists wanted the Holocaust.” Even though this clearly looks like anti-Semitic motives, the police consider it possible that an ultra-orthodox Jewish undercurrent could be behind it. The evidence is provided in the signature of the writing. One of the slogans called the Polish government to “no longer make it possible for the Zionists to hold manipulative memorial ceremonies in Auschwitz.” The signature in red color read “The God-fearing world Jewry.”

There is an anti-Zionist movement in the orthodox arena that rejects the secular founding of the State of Israel because they are of the opinion that a Jewish state will only be able to be founded by the Messiah.
Ynet News reports that the two orthodox sects in question for their part condemned the vandalism and reject the idea that their followers could have had a part in it. There were other anti-Zionist slogans mentioned there:
“If Hitler didn’t exist the Zionists would have had to invent him.”

“Jews wake up – the Zionist regime is dangerous.”

“The global Zionist mafia.” Read More:

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