I went to go to the Holocaust Museum in Houston to attend a lecture on the Treaty of Versailles, and its contribution to the Holocaust. As those who follow my work may know, I have covered several museums, including the Holocaust Museum in Washington, DC. I had found the perfect niche and angle for this new story. As someone with many Jewish teachers, friends and contacts, my intellectual world has largely been Jewish. I have met and even lived with concentration camp survivors for short periods of time. I have known many people actively involved in the Holocaust museum reception effort – some are German-Jewish collaborations and friendships.
I also have had many personal relationships with Germans – some of whom are old enough to have experienced the war and its consequences. I know that healing the Jewish-German situation is critical to moving on. Healing involves discussion, acknowledgement, and the ability to understand that for many Germans, they, like children whose parents go to prison, face a horrible censorship of the only caring role models they have known their entire lives. Many, but not all of the Germans, for reasons not fully understood, if not complicitous, were able to ignore what happened around them, and not act in the face of horrible atrocity to their neighbors. And yet, they remained excellent parents, friends, husbands, and wives, church members, bowling brothers, working members of society, etc. Like all human beings, they have redeemable social value, even to Jews who have been harmed.
I think that what disgusts me the most in this situation, is the inability to move on. For most, it has been a few generations. There has been acknowledgement and education. There is great shame. I don’t think that history will repeat itself – certainly not with the Germans. The inability to let go of the past, compels the individual who is subjected to its consequences, to the reflexive and protective response of rage and alienation. Perhaps the alienation is what is desired by those injured, but surely the rage and hatred that drive the alienation are problematic for both parties.
This story, for me, will unfortunately be a largely silent witness to repression. After several attempted discussions with the “director” of the museum about which pictures I wanted to take (3 very specific ones that directly related to my situation including a freedom of press/information picture, and 1 that related to what was the quintessential holocaust question: “What happened to my neighbors?” ), I was told that I would have to return with an appointment, fill out forms, and agree to have everything edited.
I don’t do appointments for a reason. I am stalked, almost everywhere I go. The people that surround me are rarely “real” people. Secondly, there is the issue of gas. It took a quarter of a tank for me to make the visit. I no longer have a gas card. There would be no coming back. The opportunity was now. Finally, my work is art. There is a contextual flow with my personal story and situation. By keeping everything impromptu, there is a certain freedom of vision, inspiration, and also, company. It helps to some extent to protect me from those who try to influence my behavior and story with their own agenda.
I have to note that I find it compelling and sad, that history is silenced, edited, and that an individual is not allowed to find and document their own relationship with it. My work is toward peace, education, and healing, as anyone who follows it, knows, and the people that I spoke with, certainly knew. With a pretty good eye for objectivity, I yet try to keep things rated G, although the content occasionally does goes to PG – usually with a warning. I don’t profit from the work – it is all public service for a community that cares about human and animal rights. Like most people, I’m not always right. I try to stay open, and evolve in my perspective. I certainly don’t want an editor.
Antisemitism exists in the world. Not just toward Jews, but also toward Arabs, and like Black-on-Black hatred, also amongst Jews and Arabs. There is some question in my mind as to whether this drama was staged to provoke it.
Although it may have been a factor in the staging, I think the more probable interpretation is: “First no, and then yes.” involuntary community therapy. And my response to that, from this moment forward, will be:
“First no, and then never. Forever silent. No press. I’m moving on. Think twice before you say no.”
Reflecting on how horrible it feels for me to go out in public, I note that almost all of my distress derives from people. If limited to nature, and animals, I generally feel pretty good. Some situations produce disease. This one hurt me – a lot.