Monday, July 27, 2015

The Face of Death

Kovno, June 1940... the largest city in Lithuania, and the centre for its Jewish population of around forty thousand; the yeshiva in the Slobodka quarter was one of Europe's most prestigious institutions of higher Jewish learning, and there were forty synagogues, a number of both Yiddish and Hebrew schools, as well as a Jewish hospital. What made Kovno different from most other central European Jewish communities was that it was the Communists, not the Nazis, who undertook their destruction; it was in June 1940 that Lithuania fell to the Soviets, and only two years later that the Nazis captured the city, and cleared out the Kovno ghetto with their customary efficiency, mostly by firing squad at the Ninth Fort. Kovno became one of the centres for the Jewish Resistance movement, and the source for my account of that resistance in my novel "The Flaming Sword".

The face is of SA Major General Hans Kramer, administrator of the Kovno Ghetto, hand-drawn, from a picture seen somewhere, back in the early '80s when I was playing with the Bernhard-Ari gallery, trying to create some of the drawings and paintings referred to in "The Flaming Sword" and its sequel "A Little Oil & Root".

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