a jewish story workshop Venice 9-13 September 2012 edited by Isabel Lima, Rune Normann, Martin Andersen
A Jewish story
REcall is a research project founded by EC Culture 2007-13 Programme (n. 2012 - 0927 / 001 - 001 CU7 COOP7) focused on the possible roles Museography can play when dealing with Difficult Heritage such as the ones coming from conflicts and wars. REcall wishes to envision new ways to the handling of Painful Places & Stories going behind any traditional approach: there is the need to shift from the ‘simply’ commemoration attitude to a more active involvement and participation of people in/with Places & Stories, through design strategies of ‘reappropriation’ (www.recall-project.polimi.it).
The views expressed in this document are the sole responsibility of the authors and the European Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.
REcall Consortium POLIMI-Politecnico di Milano - Coordinator - (Italy) AAU-Aalborg University (Denmark) NTUN-Norwegian University of Science and Technology (Norway) UNEW-Newcastle University (United Kingdom) Fasltad Museum, Falstad (Norway) Museo della Resistenza, Turin (Italy) Associated Partners Ergan Foundation Romsdal museet Routes Agency Snark Issued in November 2012 under Creative Commons: license CC BY SA 3.0
A Jewish story
edited by Julia Heslop, Enrico Forestieri, Patrick Ronge Vinther
Civic Hospital ‘SS. Giovanni e Paolo’ Campo SS. Giovanni e Paolo, Castello 6363 - Venice (7 October 1944) Between the end of 1943 and 1944 the Jews of Venice were deported to the camp Fossoli, to be then sent to Auschwitz. In the city, men, women and children were rounded up in prisons or in other areas, such as Foscarini School, transformed into a place of detention, as a plaque posted in 2000 reminds. Especially dramatic was the summer of 1944, when the SS command (leaded by Franz Stangl), based in Trieste, and before that at Treblinka, moved to Venice. The machinery of deportation did not stop even in front of elders and sick people. In August 1944, seventy people were deported from the Elderly Care House of Israelite along with the hospital’s chief rabbi who had refused to leave. While in October, the patients at city hospitals (saints John and Paul, San Clemente and San Servolo) were to be locked up in the chamber housing of the Main City Hospital, waiting to be sent first to Trieste, then to Auschwitz. Out of the 246 deported prisoners, only 8 returned to Venice. Provided material: http://www.recall-project.polimi.it/wp-content/uploads/6_ jewish_history.zip
Tracing A Jewish Story We started by going to the civic hospital looking for the room the Jewish patients were being held, a room known as the chamber housing. After speaking to
people at the hospital’s information office we didn’t come any closer to finding the room. We then asked everal of other people employed at the hospital if they had ever heard of the chamber housing. No one had. It seemed as if there wasn’t a defined room or space in the hospital building that was called the chamber housing, so we pushed on to other sources hoping to find some answers. Upon arrival at the Ghetto we immediately sought out the Jewish museum, the Elderly House, the Jewish Community Information Centre as well as the Library and Archive. Only the Jewish community centre could provide us with information, although sadly very little we didn’t already know. We got to see the only book that has any information regarding the happening at the hospital, and from that we learned the chamber housing was translated from the Italian term ‘camera de custodia’. We eventually went back to the hospital hoping to find out more about the ‘camara de custodia’. We got in touch with the hospital’s administration office, but unfortunately this didn’t get us very much closer to the answers we were looking for. At this point we had come to the conclusion that the ‘camara de custodia’ possibly was not even a specific room at the Hospital. The story of the rounding up at the civic hospital is marginally present in the collective mind, but the community at large has no idea of this particular happening (neither at the civic hospital). Social memory is linked to the material culture telling the facts of the past. Without these facts, what does that make of the memory? The story is told from without. How do we recall what has never been known? In light of the lack of material culture related to this event we decided that it was important to create a physical object which would represent the absent physical space of remembrance.
The material culture linking to the rounding up at the civic hospital appears to be lost.
So is the collective social memory of this event too.
As an answer to the lost material culture and social memory we performed an action with the aim of passing on the forgotten story at the scale of personal interaction. We designed and produced a yellow box which contained in its interior the story of Jewish people held in captivity in the hospital and consequently deported. But also a more cheerfull element to move on; a Jewish Biscuit. The rationale was simple, the box represents the missing room; yellow stands as the symbolic colour that Jews were enforced to wear in order to be distinguished from other people; the story was the only trace left from this event and the Jewish biscuit stands for the idea of being kept and then vanishing. A
The strategy we adopted for disseminating this story was to engage the public and passers by in front of the Civic Hospital in a one-to-one interaction. The potential of doing this is: - to trigger curiosity, which leads to a quick engagement and establishment of trust. - passing on the memory of the event trough oral communication allows for emulation and repetition. This repetition creates a new memory imprint of that past historical event. - the existence of an object associated to the public engagement process aides in the recollection of the event. See the presentation video: http://vimeo.com/50425470
Would you like to share a jewish story?
REcall docs – a jewish story Published by Politecnico di Milano, Dipartimento di Progettazione dell’Architettura © May 2013, The Authors
operation bowler REcall is a research project founded by EC Culture 2007-13 Programme focused on the possible roles Museography can play when dealing with Difficult Heritage such as the ones coming from conflicts and wars. REcall wishes to envision new ways to the handling of Painful Places & Stories going behind any traditional approach: there is the need to shift from the ‘simply’ commemoration attitude to a more active involvement and participation of people in/with Places & Stories, through design strategies of ‘reappropriation’ (www.recall-project.polimi.it). editors Isabel Lima is a Portuguese artist based in the UK since 2001. In 2010 I graduated with First Class Honours on a BA (hons) Fine Art from Staffordshire University, and I am currently finishing a Masters in Fine Art at Newcastle University. Rune Normann grew up in the Northernmost part of Norway and started studying Archaeology in Trondheim at NTNU in 2006. Currently he is writing his masters thesis on rock art and religion. Martin Andersen received his Master of Science in Engineering with specialization in Architectural Design at Aalborg University Denmark. His interest, profession, and still growing passion, is to “engineer architecture” - a matter of both form, function and structure.
REcall is a research project funded by EC Cluture 2007-13 Programme (n. 2012 - 0927 / 001 - 001 CU7 COOP7)