16 June 2007

ESTHER

THANKS:

Firstly, thanks so much to all you you who sent me links or emailed me with the Phrenology head image. Wow what a nice response I got - just love the blog world.

Secondly thanks Gypsy Purple for highlighting my page for Ingrid on your delicious blog. If any of you have not been there, I suggest you pop in for a visit, it is such a visual treat especially when Gypsy showcases "Look what they made" - highlighting artists and their works from the week. Great idea.

ESTHER:




Last night I had the pleasure of spending a Sabbath dinner with a friend of mine Robert who I have known since kindergarten. He asked me a long time ago to do a wall art piece with the subject being his late father, Sam. In all there are about 125 photo's. Yes it will be massive. I have done one of these before and it was not easy but, what the customer wants, the customer get, right?

Anyway last night I spent time with Robert and other members of the family. We discussed Sam and his history albeit briefly. Sam was a Holocaust survivor with yet another unbelievable story of courage and survival.

It's never easy listening to these stories. I always come away feeling like we have it so so easy.

The hardest part was sitting there with Esther holding my hand. Esther is/was Sam's wife and Robert's mother.

One has to be extremely sensitive whilst listening. You have to know the right questions to ask. But more importantly the questions you DON'T ask is more pertinent.

It was decided that I will also be doing an album on Esther's life story for she too is a Holocaust Survivor. NOT ANY HOLOCAUST SURVIVOR. For Esther is unofficially the youngest Survivor of Auschwitz.

Why do I say unofficially?

Because as she entered Auschwitz she realised that when asked how old you are, depending on your answer or depending on if you were a very small child or ill etc, you were sent either to the left or the right.

Left meant working and hence survival at least initially upon arrival.

Right meant "Krups" - or immediate death.

What do I mean by "Krups".

You know the brand Krups, they make electrical appliances, coffee machines etc.

Krups brand manufactured concentration camp crematoria in the 1930s and 40s.

Esther lied about her age, instead of saying she was 12 she said 15 - she went to the left.
She survived.

Last night Esther only spoke in context to meeting Sam. She does speak about what happened at Auschwitz, particularly to school kids. Like my father, her oral testimony was given and put on record for the Steven Spielberg - Shoah (Holocaust) Foundation. She won't discuss the entire horror. After she dies, Esther's Kids will view the tape for the first time. I did tell her that I am about to take my father's tapes to be converted into DVD format - so the kids begged her to give them to me to change-over at the same time - we want our parents' stories to be archivally safe. She is considering it.

Whilst she was holding my hand and I was looking at the number tatooed on her arm, she looked me in the eyes and said, Judy, my darling, YOU, I trust to do this.

What a responsibility.

It's the only tape!!!

I won't let it leave my sight if she eventually hands it over - it's such a big deal for her to do that.
We'll see what happens.

One day in the near future I hope to be able to show you pages from the book I do to honour Esther. There is only one photo (part of it above) of Esther as a child, as she said, "who has photo's, everything was taken from us in Auschwitz" - that was a loaded comment which I understood but I will leave you with that to ponder.

23 comments:

Megan Pickwell said...

How lucky these friends are to have someone like you Judy, with whom they feel they are able to speak of such personal and tragic memories. Your purpose is very clear to me. You are the perfect one to tell their tales.
Meganxox

craftyhala said...

WHew what a responsibility, however, what an honor to be trusted enough with something so important.
A loaded question...i can imagine so much more after learning all that I have here at your blog. That photo is precious.
take care,
Mahala

debra cooper said...

wow. what an honor and what a story. A friend's mother was a holocaust survivor and I always thought it was so surreal just to know someone who actually experienced it. She was very young and had a short stay at one of the concentration camps, but she lost her whole family there. She also still had nightmares, frequently, of what she had seen. Maybe there was a part of me that thought after 50 years you might be able to have a day when you don't remember, or at least where the memory wouldn't be so vivid. But evidently there is no such respite when a human soul is scarred like that. Children usually forget everything about their very early years....

Judy said...

Debbie, just to comment on your comment.
There is an official Annual Holocaust Memorial Day.Most Survivors still have nightmares.
It is 60 years since the camps were liberated. No-one who experienced that ever forgets - even children born in the camps. Remember they spent years in there. How can one forget being torn away or watching your friends and or family being killed in front of you?

Megan said...

Judy you have been entrusted with a monumental project haven't you?!You will do an incredible job, I just know it.

Megan xx

jo and jacky said...

Goosebumps again Judy!
My grandfather was a caretaker at a Jewish Synagogue(sp?) in Auckland and I was always so fascinated by it all.
We had a lady come in to the shop last year who is part of the Jewish Holocaust Survivors group here in Perth. She was doing up an album of a return trip to Germany and concentration Camps. Such haunting images, loaded with so much more than just what you 'see'! She later went on and did a talk at Samaras highschool for their history class who wre studying Germany. It is so important for this story to be told to our children so this horror is never repeated!
It is people like you who preserve these memories with such tender care and respect. I look forward to viewing your art work!
Love you,
JO xoxo

Julie H said...

Judy I am all choked up, I feel the enormity of the task you do, I feel Esthers hand in mine as you speak of her.

What an amazing trust and responsibility - I can only begin to imagine the emotional weight of this journey for you, each time you live the memories with these beautiful people.

My heart is confused by the survivors, people I do not know, part of me rejoices in the freedom that must come for them with their passing and the other wants to hold them close and tight, to never let them go - tolet them know we care and to never let the world forget. Thank you for doing what we can not.

Karen Cole said...

Someday when you come to visit, we will go to the Holocaust Museum in Washington and the Liberty Museum in here in Philadelphia, a museum dedicated to promoting tolerance by using beautiful art glass as a metaphor for our fragile lives.

Lissy said...

Judy this is another amazing read...I find it quite upsetting even though I have no personal connections to such life stories...we really do not know how lucky we are and we take so much for granted...it's quite a task but it is wonderful you are there to do it :) other wise who would??

Gisele said...

This is such a responsibility but also an honour to be entrusted with Esther's tape Judy. Your tales move me to tears for all those who have suffered such horrors in the camps...my heart goes out to all the survivors in that they may find peace from their nightmares.

Ro Bruhn said...

These heart wrenching stories must be so hard to listen to with out losing you composure. Just listening to you relate the story Judy makes me go cold, but to actually be there and hear it straight from the person involved must be incredible. If anyone can do justice to their memory with art, you're the one.
Ro
xo

Jen Crossley said...

Oh Judy what a amazing experience I feel so for Esther my heart truely feels for the holocast survivors,to share so painfully memories,they are lucky to have someone like you to document and understand there plight with such sensitive
Jen

Judy Wise said...

I am moved Judy, by all that is passing before you. Thank you for giving voice so that others can know these things. I did not know that about Krups. Something so mundane and then that shocking!! history. I cannot say all that I am feeling right now. But I am very grateful to you for reminding us. We must keep that history alive forever.

Gypsy Purple said...

So much emotion......this is an amazing post and I was very very touched.....thanks for the mention Judy.....I truly appreciate it!!!!

nina said...

judy, once again, again, again - you amaze me with your bottomless love and insight and deep, deep soul. no wonder these people seek you out to tell their stories, no matter how difficult it may be. i can't imagine - none of us can - what they all endured, but i know you'll be able to convey the strength, courage, and belief in life that survived.
i'm proud to know you, judy, and grateful that the universe brought us together, across all those many many miles. you are a treasure, and i adore you. xoxo

annie lockhart said...

my goodness...this is my first time to visit...and what an amazing path you have crossed. how special to be trusted with such a "piece" of one's own history...her story...and to sit and hold her dear hand. i just left nina's and saw the beautiful piece that you rendered for her. it is so beautiful. glad to find you!

Kristen Robinson said...

Judy this post leaves me without words. Reading this creates a whirlwind of emotion within me, I am touched, I am moved I am horrified that such crimes against humanity occurred. I have no doubt the eloquence and beauty of your art will memorialize and honor those who walked in days of dark shadows.

Peggy said...

I visit you blog in first time. You are a great artist and I like you artwork.My favorit is the elephant book.

Jamie said...

This is my first visit to your blog. I have poured over it for hours now. I am stunned at the beauty of your work and feel that no one could do these stories justice like you can Judy. Your ability to convey moments, emotions, stories thru your art is astounding. Thank you for sharing your gift. Sincerely, Jamie

R2artstudio said...

I too am left just speechless. What a special and touching story already. And you are the perfect artist to honor this family and their history. What a meaningful experience for you, and I'm sure you will be inspired by every picture and word.

Dotee said...

Hi Judy

I am a new visitor to your blog but will be back often now I have found you!. Found you through my dear WA friend Julie.
Your art is beautiful and your love and connection to others shines through both your words and art.

This is such a incredible responsibility and an honor. You are bringing people's stories to life. In such a potent and beautiful way....

Susan Tuttle said...

Judy,
You are definitely the right spirit for this job. Your post moved me so deeply, on so many levels. I visited Auschwitz when I was 17, and I cannot help but picture Esther there, and remember all I saw and all I felt. My whole body feels sick when I think about it.

What wonderful celebrations of Esther's incredible life and Sam's incredible life your pieces will be. There are not words to describe this journey--beyond beautiful.

Susan
xo

Judy K said...

Oh my...This is so emotional. What an honor you have and by what I see of your work the right person for it. It leaves me with such a heavy feeling. I didn't know that about Krups. I will never use a Krups product again.

I'm fairly new to traveling around the blog world, I am so glad I discovered your blog through Michael's. Now I'll go read the rest of Numbers.

Judy