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In an interview for an article published in these pages (Aug. 25, 2004), Jewish Bombay-born painter Siona Benjamin discussed her technique of hiding troubling imagery in the seemingly inviting floral and decorative borders of Indian and Persian miniature-influenced paintings. "Under the beauty of miniatures you can hide danger," she told me of her "Finding Home" series. "The beauty of miniatures draws you in-veiling and revealing."
Daniel Retter's father, Marcus Retter, z"l, escaped from Vienna to England in 1938 on the Kindertransport. His father's parents and sister were deported from Vienna to Riga, where they were murdered by the Germans and Latvians. He says that since his father should have been the one asking some of the following questions, the interview is dedicated to his memory.
As an Israeli psychoanalyst once noted with bitter irony, the Germans will never forgive the Jews for Auschwitz. The corollary to this observation is that Europeans will never forgive the Israelis and the Jews for Auschwitz.
Mirta Kupferminc is an artist who has made her artistic mission a search for meaning in a world profoundly unstable, problematic and filled with the terrors of memory not entirely her own. As the child of Holocaust survivors, uprooted from Europe and transplanted in Argentina, one prevailing motif for her is that of a witness to the Holocaust one generation removed. A prominent text panel quotes Saul Sosnowski: " to be a witness who loves unconditionally; daring to judge G-d over Auschwitz and find him guilty; and pray to him still, even there, even in Auschwitz."
Editor's Note: Several years ago, the bestselling novelist Christopher Buckley, accompanied by his late father, the writer and iconic conservative intellectual William F. Buckley Jr., visited Auschwitz. He had never published his haunting account of that experience, but the current furor over Bishop Richard Williamson's claim that the Holocaust is largely a myth and "not one" Jew was gassed at Auschwitz compelled him to do so on The Daily Beast website, where he is a regular contributor.
As the immediacy of the Holocaust continues to fade from the collective memory of the world, and even from that of too many Jews, due to the passage of time and the passing of the survivor community, publications of books such as A Rose Among the Thorns by Rochel Schmidt, become seminal events.
The phenomenon of genocide is a uniquely human creation. Since the dawn of history, it has occurred on all the inhabited continents among diverse ethnic, religious, social and geographic groups. It has caused the deaths of more people than all the wars and individual murders combined. It is difficult to predict, to prevent or to limit. Its perpetrators mostly face impunity. In sum, genocide is as pervasive as it is intractable.
The Israel Postal authority and the UN Postal Administration co-issued a Holocaust Remembrance Stamp on January 27, the 64th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz.
The more things change, the more they remain the same. For anyone who can still think clearly, the Annapolis "Peace Conference" in November was merely the latest hallucinatory rendition of a very troubled sleep. It's not that this carefully scripted assembly actually confirmed a catastrophic outcome for Israel. Rather, it underscored America's perilous and persistent preoccupation with a determinably wrongheaded foreign policy.
The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum opened an exhibit last week remembering the children of the Lodz Ghetto.