Literature tips – Newsletter 9

Pilzweger-Steiner, Stefanie / Riedle, Andrea (eds.):

Beweise für die Nachwelt / Evidence for Posterity. Die Zeichnungen des Dachau-Überlebenden Georg Tauber / The Drawings of the Dachau Survivor Georg Tauber; Katalog zur Sonderausstellung / Catalog of the Special Exhibition. Berlin: Metropol 2018

As soon as he was liberated from Dachau concentration camp, Georg Tauber started to make an artistic record for posterity of what he had experienced. The Bavarian advertising artist impressively documented “everyday camp life” and the terror of the SS in a large number of watercolors and pencil drawings. His drawings are also exceptional considering the story of his persecution. As a former “asocial” prisoner, Georg Tauber was a member of a victims’ group with hardly any personal testimonies owing to ongoing social discrimination after the war. Georg Tauber is exceptional in this sense, as well: he founded an initiative in 1946 to champion the interests of “asocial” and “criminal” concentration camp victims. Georg Tauber’s work is presented publicly for the first time in the exhibition “Evidence for Posterity”.

Temkin, Moisej Beniaminowitsch:

Am Rande des Lebens. Erinnerungen eines Häftlings der nationalsozialistischen Konzentrationslager. Published by Reinhard Otto. Berlin: Metropol 2017

The segregation of “unacceptable” Soviet prisoners of war – commissars, Jews, members of the intelligentsia – is one of the greatest crimes of the Second World War. According to an agreement between the Wehrmacht and the SS, more than 30,000 Red Army soldiers were “weeded out” starting in the summer of 1941, and then brought to concentration camps where they were murdered. That a prisoner, and a Jewish officer in the Red Army at that, was nonetheless able to escape this systematic process of selection is a miracle. Moisei Beniaminovich Temkin had already undressed for execution on the SS shooting range in Hebertshausen when he was waved out and taken two kilometers away to Dachau concentration camp. From there, he was brought a short time later to Mauthausen concentration camp, which he likewise survived, as well as Dachau concentration camp once again, its subcamp in Friedrichshafen and the Mittelbau-Dora and Bergen-Belsen concentration camps. After the war, Temkin described his experiences in detail, thereby leaving us a unique testimony of the crimes perpetrated on this often forgotten group of victims.

Ristić, Ivan / Wipplinger, Hans-Peter (eds.):

Zoran Mušič. Poesie der Stille / Zoran Mušič. Poetry of Silence; Katalog zur Ausstellung, Leopold Museum Wien. Köln: Verlag der Buchhandlung Walther König 2018

Zoran Mušič’s drawings of Dachau concentration camp, where he was imprisoned from 1944 to 1945, are shocking documents of those days. During the postwar period, Mušič painted the first unmistakable “Cavallini” (horses) from Dalmatia, but also drew inspiration from the hill country of Umbria and Tuscany. In the mid-1950s, Mušič defined landscape rather as an ornamental fabric in his most intensely colored works, before soon taking a step into abstract art. After 1963, he increasingly found his way to an anthropomorphic view of landscape. He once again tried to come to terms with the indelible trauma of his concentration camp experience starting in 1970 with the pictures in the “Wir sind nicht die Letzten” (we are not the last) cycle. There followed mood pictures of Mušič’s adopted homeland, as well as many self-portraits painted in subdued tones. These are attestations of an untiring search for the answers to the basic questions of human existence.

Zinn, Alexander:

„Aus dem Volkskörper entfernt“? Homosexuelle Männer im Nationalsozialismus. Frankfurt am Main / New York: Campus Verlag 2018

Very much a taboo for decades, the persecution of homosexual men under the Nazi dictatorship has recently come to the attention of a wider public. What had been lacking until now were nationwide investigations providing an overview of the everyday life and persecution of homosexuals in the “Third Reich”. Alexander Zinn has now produced a study that enables us to take a new, comprehensive view of this dark chapter in German history. It not only focuses on the fate of those affected, but also on the persecution program of the ruling powers, which became ever more radical, and the role played by the police, the justice system and the population at large. The results are surprising. The gap between the aspirations and the reality of the persecution program was often striking. The officials were not always the “willing enforcers” they are usually seen to have been today. And even the population assisted the persecution apparatus far less than has often been alleged up to now.