Wednesday. I can’t believe it’s already Wednesday. Today we saw an art exhibition of drawings by Marian Kolodziej. Marian was a Holocaust survivor who was a prisoner in the concentration camps, including Auschwitz for 5 years. The exhibition was designed in the basement of a church all carefully laid out and positioned by Marian himself. Upon entering you are right away presented with words written in Polish by Marian. "(...)it's not an exhibition, not art, not pictures, but words encapsulated in drawing. Art. is helpless when facing what people did to people. (...) Please read my words, drawn, which emerged also from the longing for the clarity of criteria, for a clear separation of good and evil, the true from the false, art from its pretence. It is also my discord to the world of today. It is also about us, about what we did to our humanity."
|Drawing of Auschwitz|
|One of the many rooms filled with drawings|
Upon reading this I knew right away it wasn’t going to be like anything I ever saw. Before I talk about his drawings I will give you a background on Marian. He never really talked too much about his experiences during the Holocaust for the years following liberation. Later on in life, he suffered a stroke that left him paralyzed and the doctors tried to rehabilitate him. He was able to wrap a pen to his hand and then he began to find rehabilitation in drawing. From then on for the next and final 15 years of his life he drew and drew, until his passing in 2009. This was personally touching to me because a stroke is what left my Grandma paralyzed so to see that he was able to overcome it and have find a passion was amazing. And the fact that he was able to survive for 5 years in concentration camps was another miracle. However, it became clear from his drawings that the things he witnessed and experienced during those times have continued to haunt him for the rest of his life. The images he drew were so dark and compelling. I thought there would only be one room filled with pictures but the exhibit continued room after room with huge murals, to small pictures all over the walls, floor and ceiling. Common themes could be seen in the pictures having to do with the struggle of good and evil, justice, the haunting of the demons he faced, the memories of prisoners faces and numbers, his camp experiences, and how he saw himself (past and present). Overall, this exhibition was moving and I would really like to learn more about Marian and watch the film about him. I wish I could have had the opportunity to meet him and hear him explain the drawings.
|Use of scales to weigh good and bad|
We went back to Auschwitz for an hour to enter some of the blocks, this time without a guide. It was a very scary moment when we were in a block dedicated to the memory of “The Roma” people (or gypsies) right before its closing when the lights were shut off on us, leaving us in pitch black in the building to find our way out.
We also had two excellent lectures today, one from Jonathan Webber and the other from Fr. Manfred. Jonathan Webber talked about how to memorialize the Holocaust. He made so many interesting points and displayed pictures of what remains in Poland of Jewish culture. He is a co-founder of the Jewish Museum in Krakow which we will visit on Friday. Fr. Manfred talked about his biography of the first commandment of Auschwitz, Rudolf Hoess. As horrible as it is to even want to hear about the life of a man responsible for so many deaths, I felt it was important to have this understanding and perspective. No matter what went on in his life I don’t think anything would be justifiable enough to commit the acts he did.
I really enjoyed today. I feel like I learned a lot and as each day goes by I am learning more and more news things about the Holocaust, Poland and the Jewish-Christian relations.