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A MULTI CULTURAL ART PROJECT

SURVIVING . . .

GENOCIDE


In 1995, when I first visited the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington D.C., I realized that my series of paintings about the Jewish people was unfinished. I began searching on the Internet for testimonies and images of the Holocaust survivors for my "Surviving Genocide" series. I found this sentence: " I am now standing at the boundary between life and death. I already know for certain that I must die and that is why I want to say farewell to my friends and to my work." They had been written by Gela Seksztajn, an artist. She was born in Warsaw in 1907 and murdered in August 1942 in the Treblinka concentration camp. She had also written "Farewell comrades and friends. Jews! Do everything that such a tragedy will never be repeated!" There, on my computer screen and next to her words was her self portrait. Looking at the strong lines of her face, the hard expression of her eyebrows, and the rage in her powerful eyes I felt as if those eyes were staring at future generations, demanding of them that her wishes be fulfilled. Her will along with her watercolors were preserved underground in the Warsaw ghetto.

Reading her words, I thought in the genocide committed by the military dictatorship in Argentina. "Do everything that such a tragedy will never be repeated,"said Gela. "Never Again" are words that every survivor and every family member of a disappeared person in Argentina will repeat forever.

As I began to read survivors testimonies, I noticed many similarities in procedures between the genocide committed during the Holocaust and that perpetrated by the military dictatorship in Argentina, where 30.000 people were killed from 1975 until l983. As in the Holocaust, the Argentine population remained in silence while the military government committed all kind of atrocities. After losing everything--their families, their names, and their possessions--the victims were taken to concentration camps where they endured all types of physical and mental torture before being murdered. In the process of dehumanizing prisoners, the military forces did not allow them to use their names. They were identified only by numbers.

The paintings in my series: "Surviving Genocide" portray the survivor's hopes, but also the disappearances, their destroyed families and the remains of people. The remains of the millions of persons who were systematically slaughtered by the Nazis, are echoed by those thousands of persons who were assassinated by the military dictatorship in Argentina and other Latin American countries.
Millions, thousands, hundred of dead people, of disappeared bodies . . . . These figures may sound like cold statistics, but we only need to hear a survivor's account, or to read a testimonial book, or look at a photograph of a innocent child, victim of genocide, to understand profoundly the magnitude of such outrageous crimes against humanity.

RAQUEL PARTNOY
Washington D.C.
July 2000

landscape.jpg

"Still Landscape"
Series: "Surviving Genocide"

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LINKS

SEPTEMBER HEARTS - Against war and terrorism.

NIZKOR PROJECT - Holocaust -

RIGHTS ACTION - Human Right Projects.

THE VANISHED GALLERY-Disappeared people in Argentina.