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year: 2019
dimensions: 450/450/250 cm
technique: wooden objects (own technique) - the installation
description: In the summer of 1943, in the month of June or July, on holiday                                                                             [...] they were leading a citizen of Jewish origin towards the embankment.                                                            [...] They were leading this citizen, holding a stick in his hand, and I saw that the citizen had a bloody head. [...]      This man [...] told him to spare his life that it was such a beautiful sunny day, that they would let him go, that he wanted to live.                                                                   At these requests, he hit him with a stick twice and said, "Go, go motherfucker, don't talk".[1]

It is obvious that Nazi Germany is responsible for the extermination of Jews in Europe. Building an ideology, a system that planned and methodically launched the Holocaust process mostly carried out in Poland in German death camps (in KL Auschwitz, Chełmno nad Nerem, Bełżec, Sobibór and Treblinka) is a deliberate strategy of the absolute policy of the Third Reich regime. Although Poles were victims, an occupied nation, they unfortunately also became Nazi helpers over time. Given the contemporary historical context, a radical anti-Semitic campaign, mainly in Podlasie, carried out by the Nazis with the participation of the structures of the Polish nationalist underground, which in the summer of 1941. and in later years led to a large-scale campaign to catch Jews in hiding, today it is hard to imagine that their Polish neighbors did so with extreme zeal. The fact of doing so punishes the fundamental question about humanity, ethics, morality, compassion - humanity.

According to historians, the Holocaust was subject to three phases. The first is the time of exclusion, discrimination, labeling, ghetto creation and indirect extermination, through hunger, illness and devastating work. The second is murdering - mass shooting, sending to mass extermination camps. The last, third phase is catching and eliminating the survivors who have survived so far.

In the perspective of JUDENFREI's work (Pile II), I am interested in the second and third phase of the Holocaust of Jews, mostly citizens of the Second Polish Republic, carried out in the summer of 1941 in Polish towns. The subject of the installation are neighborly relations between Polish and Jewish neighbors in Podlasie, which can be described as: neighborly pogroms of Jews. I am aware that this is a one-sided, radical assessment of historical facts in view of the occurrence of human impulses, attempts to help, and hiding Jews in hiding by their Polish neighbors in that situation, it is obvious that such attitudes were exceptions. In addition, the installation, through its literality, particularly refers to the phenomenon of absence, emptiness, and absence.

In the summer of 1941, in the towns of Jedwabne, Radziłów, Wąsosz, Szczuczyn, Bzury, Goniądz, Rajgród, Kolno, Suchowola, Brańsk and Jasionówka, there were pogroms of the local community of local Jews. Group killing of neighbors was most often carried out on their own initiative. Polish neighbors, executioners were guided by low instincts, hatred, avarice - the desire for easy profit, the aforementioned anti-Semitism. The extreme situation is the examples of Jedwabne and Radziłów, where Jewish children, women and men were burned alive by local people.

The installation consists of the so-called Welcome - a structure erected most often at the entry and exit roads from towns or regions. Its appearance usually resembles a small board or a type of advertisement, although there are also greetings that are sculptures, artistic installations or small billboards. In the past, the most important function of such a structure was to inform travelers that they were just arriving in a town or region. It also served as a border post. My inspiration was a welcome from the Jedwabne commune. The installation consists of 11 pieces of witches with the names of the places where the pogrom of people of Jewish nationality took place. Individual objects were made individually, the differences also apply to the inscription fonts on boards, the size of the branches, the composition of the inscriptions "hello", "goodbye". Wooden objects were properly burnt with fire, protected with dark soil in such a way that the association with the torch, burning was unambiguous. The objects are arranged in a stack.

Judenfrei or Judenrein (Polish, free from Jews) - a term used by German Nazis to describe a given area or city where Jews no longer reside.

[1] Barbara Engelking, It's such a beautiful sunny day ... The fate of Jews seeking help in the Polish countryside 1942-1945, Warsaw 2011



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