I like the maxim: Those who don’t study history are doomed to repeat it. In the art world I’ve recently encountered several applications, and this is the first in a small series of posts that will string those thoughts together.
I was raised Jewish; a lot of my religious studies were historically focused. My father’s family fled the holocaust (my grandparents met in New York city.) Holocaust stories are not just stories to me.
Kristallnacht, or the Night of Broken Glass, was an anti-Jewish pogrom in Germany and Austria on the night of November 9th, 1938. In a coordinated attack on Jewish people and their property, 267 synagogues were destroyed and thousands of homes and businesses were ransacked…. Kristallnacht was followed by further economic and political persecutions and is viewed by many historians as the beginning of the ‘Final Solution’, leading towards the genocide of the Holocaust, and the deaths of six million European jews.
I remember when I learned about Kristallnacht in Hebrew School being able to feel the streets covered in glass – as they were – from all of the shattered windows. There is a horror in my bones from that memory; powerless-ness, and dread.
I remember feeling uneasy when the Indiana Jones movies turned the Nazi’s into fools. The Nazi’s weren’t fools – they were very, very smart. If we don’t remember that, we’re not remembering what actually happened. Quentin Tarantino/Brad Pitt’s recent Inglorious Basterds also fictionalizes and humorizes the holocaust. It’s not unique in doing that. But it still scares the sh*t out of me.
The further that one gets from an event, the easier it is to forget what actually happened. That forgetting process seems to be greased by humor. What scared the sh*t out of one generation in the next generation is made into a joke. What we don’t remember, really remember, we’re doomed – as peoples – to repeat.
I know – real uplifting post for a Friday night. What can I say. Long weeks make me want indulge in ‘righteousness’ in my spare time…