Last Traces: The Lost Art of Auschwitz

Joseph P. Czarnecki, Author, Chaim Potok, Introduction by Atheneum Books $29.95 (175p) ISBN 978-0-689-12022-0
Though the art itself is primitive and often difficult to decipher, the stories behind the sketches, inscriptions and doodles documented by Polish photojournalist Czarnecki on the walls of cells, latrines, washrooms and barracks at Auschwitz will move readers with the weight of their human suffering and courage. A few pictures need no commentary: a pigeon wistfully carries an envelope in its beak; an arrow pierces a timeless cupid's heart, carrying two names; a line from Dante's Inferno is elaborately scratched on a pitted surface. Sad stories wait in the wings, as for example, in the inscribed names of Edward Galinski and Mala Zimetbaum, the only trace remaining of their concentration camp romance. As the text notes, the pair barely missed making their escape from Auschwitz, attempted suicide unsuccessfully and were finally put to death by the SS. Like the other art of Auschwitz prisoners, theirs is ad hoc, compressed and urgent, but no less moving for that. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 06/01/1989
Release date: 06/01/1989
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