An uproar over the appropriation of the burnt remains of Jewish Holocaust victims for use in an artwork has swept the Jewish world and raised questions as to how the ashes remaining at European concentration camps are treated.
Artist Carl Michael von Hausswolff used ashes he took from the crematoria of the Majdanek concentration camp in Poland in 1989 to create a painting which is now on display in the Swedish city of Lund.
According to a report in Britain’s Telegraph newspaper, an important figure in the Swedish Jewish community, Salomon Schulman, discovered the use of the ashes and wrote a letter to his local newspaper, expressing his disgust for the appropriation of Jewish remains – or anyone’s remains, for that matter – to make art.
For his part, Von Hausswolff said the ashes were deeply meaningful to him, and “contain the memories and the souls of people… tormented and murdered… in the most vicious war of the 20th Century.”
Approximately 360,000 people, over 60% of whom were Jews, died at Majdanek.