• Tianyi Jia

Exhibition of art by Holocaust victims - "Rendering Witness: Holocaust-Era Art as Testimony"

During the Holocaust, around 6 million Jews lost their lives. However, as the horror of the Holocaust slowly faded away in people’s minds, the hate crimes in the United States targeting Jews spiked. According to the Anti-Defamation League, the nationwide anti-semitism hate crimes had reached 2,107 in 2019. It was the highest since the Anti-Defamation League began recording data in 1979. Jewish schools, Jewish community centers, and synagogues were targeted. There was a sharp increase in physical assaults, and a significant number of incidents happened in schools. Since those incidents were often underreported by mainstream media, the situation was likely to be even worth than the statistics released by Anti-Defamation League. Moreover, there was at least 4.2 million anti-semitic speech posted on Twitter in the year of 2018.


In response to the rising cases of hate crimes, the Museum of Jewish Heritage in lower Manhattan NYC opened an exhibition - “Rendering Witness: Holocaust-Era Art as Testimony” - to feature artworks created by Jewish victims who experienced the terrifying Holocaust.


“This exhibition stands against and educates about the dangers of anti-Semitism, racism, bigotry of any kind.” - Michael Morris, a curator at New York’s Museum of Jewish Heritage.


Transport Leaving Terezin

This piece was created by a 12-year-old girl named Helga Weissova in 1943. It depicted a scene where gun-toting guards usher a group of prisoners carrying their suitcases. In October 1944, Weissova was sent to Terezin Ghetto and concentration camp. Before being deported from Terezin to Auschwitz, Weissova gave her drawings to her uncle. Her uncle hid the artworks behind a wall.


Eight Men in Coats with Stars


This piece was created with ink by Peter Loewenstein in 1944. It pictures Jews being forced to wear identification badges. In 1941, Peter Loewenstein was deported from Czechoslovakia to Terezin, Then, in 1944, he was deported to Auschwitz camp. Before he left, he gave the 70 drawings he created to his mother. Later, his mother and sister were soon deported to Auschwitz as well, and Loewenstein’s arts were given to a family friend.


Alfred Kantor’s arts


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

During this challenging time of the COVID-19 pandemic, hatred and blames targeting Jews are escalating. On May 10, a couple of Queens snatched a man’s face mask and made anti-Semitic comments relating to COVID-19. It’s important for us to remind ourselves of the horrors of the Holocaust that arose from such hate and keep fighting against Anti-Semitism to prevent such a tragedy from occurring again.

References:

https://www.adl.org/reportincident

https://www.israelhayom.com/2020/01/17/new-york-museum-opens-exhibit-of-art-by-holocaust-victims/

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-holocaust/eyewitness-to-horror-new-york-museum-opens-exhibit-of-art-by-holocaust-victims-idUSKBN1ZE2R2

https://www.wbur.org/news/2020/05/12/antisemitic-crime-record-level

https://www.adl.org/what-we-do/anti-semitism/anti-semitism-in-the-us

https://newyork.cbslocal.com/2020/05/11/antisemitic-coronavirus-hate-crime/

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