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A MULTI CULTURAL ART PROJECT

TESTIMONIES


The testimonies written by the survivors of the Holocaust as well as those of the Argentinean genocide, tell about the horrors they both experienced and witnessed. Sometimes they were writers before being kidnapped but many times they began writing after being liberated as a way to relief themselves from the pain they had endured.



Never shall I forget that night, that first night in the camp, which has turned my life into one long night, seven times cursed and seven times sealed. Never shall I forget the smoke. Never shall I forget the faces of the children, whose bodies I saw turned intro wreaths of smoke beneath a silent blue sky.

Never shall I forget those flames which consumed my faith forever.

Never shall I forget that nocturnal silence which deprived me, for all eternity, of the desire to live. Never shall I forget those moments which murdered my God and my soul and turned my dreams to dust. Never shall I forget those things, even if I am condemned to live as long as God Himself. Never.

From "Night" by Ellie Wiesel



ELIE WIESEL is a writer and the Novel Peace Price Awardee. When he was liberated in l945 he decided to wait at least ten years before beginning to write about what he had gone when he was sent to a concentration camp at the age of forteen. After writing his first book it was very difficult for him to find a publisher because "the subject was so depressing."
Wiesel found himself alone, the only surviror, of his entire family. He saw his father, who had always been a strong man, in a painful agony before his death. While his father was laying angry and exhausted, and growing week every day, he made extraordinary efforts to keep him alive, by everything was in vain. He also saw how his mother and his three sisters, including a little girl, were taken to the crematories.
His book "Night" influenced survivors of the Holocaust to confront their past and start talking about it.

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EDITH SINGER

In 1945 when the survivors of the Holocaust were liberated by the allied trop, they learned that they had lost part of their families, In many cases, the only survivor of their entire family was a child. Their painful stories remained unspoken by the victims for many years; sometimes, thirty, forty or more years passed until they were revealed to the world. Diverse reasons prevented them from talking or writing about their experiences. Sometimes they had promised themselves never to remember their past in order to survive. Sometimes, as children, they were obligated not to talk as if their past had never existed.

However different circumstances in their lives compelled them to speak out and let people know about their memories.
Such is the case of EDITH SINGER, a survivor of Auschwitz. Her father and brother were murdered at a concentration camp. After de liberation she came to America and became a Hebrew teacher. Years later, when she was teaching at a school, a litle boy asked her if the tattoo on her arm was her telephone number. From then on she decided to tell her history. SINGER has been giving lectures around de United States for many years and wrote: "March to Freedon" where she recalls painful chapters of her past, including details she thought she had forgotten. She said: "It was not easy. Every story took me back to Aushwitz and Taucha (a labor camp). After completing each story I stopped for a few months until I could write again."

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MATILDE MELLIBOVSKY, a mother of a disappeared child, GRACIELA, is one of the founding members of the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo, Argentina. Her daughter was abducted in September 25, 1976 at the age of twenty nine. Matilde wrote the book "Circulo de Amor sobre la Muerte: Testimonios de las Madres de Plaza de Mayo" in 1990; its English version: "Circle of Love over Death: Testimonies of the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo," was published in the United States in 1997. This was her first book and also the first book of its kind. When a foreign writer approached her at a conference in Buenos Aires, looking for a book in Spanish with testimonies by the Mothers she had to admit that it has not been written yet. Mellibovsky decided then to face the hard task of interviewing the other mothers of the organization, tapping and writting their painful experiences as well as her own's. "I want to write this book so that the next generations can have an axact image of what happened, so that they know us, the Mothers, as if we were their contemporaries. So that they know how we felt and how we lived out this part of Argentina's history, which scarred our families forever," she wrote. In a chapter where she disccusses the difference between death and disappearance we can read: "A disappearence places you in a very large, dense cloud from which you cannot escape, because in the unconscious a hope always survives, while you can rationally assume the absoluteness of death."


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"I am the Only Survivor of Krasnostav" was written by DONNA RUBINSTEIN in 1982, on the forty-first anniversary of the annihilation by the Nazis of all the people who lived in Krasnostav, including Donna's entire family: grandparents, parents, siblings and also uncles, aunts, and their families. As the only survivor of Krasnostav, an eastern Ukraine little town, she felt it was her duty to record her memories for her children and for future generations. She wrote: "I am still alive, a remnant of the Holocaust, and will not reimain silent. As long as I live I will tell what I remember, so that at least one tiny part of the most horrendous catastrophe of the twentieth century shall never be forgotten."


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NELLY SACHS

She was the first Jewish woman to win, in l966, a Novel Prize for Literature. SACHS had all her family, except for her mother, killed in concentration camps during the
Holocaust. She wrote: " If I could not have written, I could not have survived. Death was my teacher . . . my metaphors are my sounds."
Her best-known poem was:


O The CHIMNEYS


O the chimneys, On the cleverly devised abodes of death.

As Israel's body drew, dissolved in smoke, Through the air,

As a chimney-sweep a star received it, Turning black,

Or was it a sunbeam?


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Among the victims who did not survive in Argentina, there were poets and writers whose works were preserved by their families and friends. CLAUDIO EPELBAUM was one of them; he "disappeared" in 1976. In 1985 was published in Buenos Aires "Desde el Silencio" (From Silence) a moving antology with poems and narratives by more than twenty young poets who, like Epelbaum, were killed by the military forces.


Agrego estas lagrimas secas

por el dolor,

mientras beso la tierra embebida

de rabia impotente

por el escandalo

del hombre asesinado,

de sus suenos violados.


The poet cries dry tears because of his pain, while he kisses the earth soaked with impotent rage, due to the terrible reality of people being murdered and deprived of their dreams.