Today's news, tomorrow's lesson - 7 December - Swedish artist sparks outrage over Holocaust ashes painting

A Swedish artist has claimed he stole ashes from a Nazi extermination camp to create a painting now being displayed in one of the country’s galleries.


Today's news, tomorrow's lesson - 7 December

Swedish artist sparks outrage over Holocaust ashes painting


A Swedish artist has claimed he stole ashes from a Nazi extermination camp to create a painting now being displayed in one of the country's galleries.

Carl Michael von Hausswolff stole the ashes from the mausoleum at Majdanek, just outside the Polish city of Lublin, while visiting the country in 1989. The mausoleum is often used by Jewish communities to hold concerts and ceremonies to remember the dead.

Mr Hausswolff mixed the victim's remains with water to create a small painting of grey streaks, which features in an exhibition at the Martin Bryder Gallery, Lund until December 15.

Salomon Schulman, a leading voice in Sweden's Jewish community who lost many relatives to the Holocaust, has called the painting revolting. He said: "Maybe some of the ashes originated from my relatives. No one knows where they were deported: all my mother's siblings and their children, and my grandparents.

"I will never go to this gallery and it as view the desecration of Jewish bodies," he added. "I am sickened by his work and obsession with necrophilia," The Daily Telegraph reported.

Mr Hausswolff has defended his work, claiming it contains the "memories and souls" of the people who were murdered. In a press statement he encouraged the public to visit the work and judge for themselves.

According to Sweden's English-language news website The Local the artist has been reported to the police for breaking the Swedish law "brott mot griftesfriden", which protects the peace of the dead.

Majdanek opened as a concentration camp in 1941. However, like the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp, it became an extermination camp from 1942 onward. About 80,000 people, mostly Polish Jews, were murdered there as part of the Nazi's Operation Reinhard – the plan to eradicate the Jewish population of Poland. The operation ended in November 1943 with a wave of executions. The most notorious happened on Wednesday 3 November when 18,400 Jewish people were shot at the Lublin camp. The event was known among Third Reich officials as "Erntefest" (Harvest Festival).

Majdanek was the first camp to be liberated by the Russians on July 23, 1944.


Questions


Primary

  • Why is it wrong to steal?
  • How could you remember a sad event of the past through art?

Secondary

  • Can art be used to commemorate the dead?
  • Why is it important to remember and learn about the Holocaust?

Related resources


Jewish life

  • Find out more about the people who were murdered during the Holocaust, and explore the lives of individuals rather than statistics with these resources from the Holocaust Education Trust.

Holocaust art

  • Use this PowerPoint to start a debate about what's appropriate in artwork that commemorates or remembers the past.

Final solution

  • Give pupils a thorough historical understanding of the Final Solution with this presentation.


Kristallnacht

  • Explore the origins of the German race laws and the tragic night of "broken glass", with these hand-picked resources.


Further news resources


First News front page

  • Help your pupils understand the features of the front page of a newspaper.

Write all about it

  • Get students creating their own news report with this step-by-step guide.

What is the News?

  • A sociological and media perspective on what makes an event 'newsworthy'.

On the box

  • Help pupils to write their own TV news broadcast with this handy PowerPoint.

Structuring stories

  • A scheme of work to help students structure news stories.

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After months of feverish speculation, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have announced that a new royal baby is on the way – one that will become the third in line to the throne.

The UK government's move to ban the sale of cheap alcohol to try to cut binge drinking and associated health risks is the latest in a long line of attempts to do something about Britain's love affair with the bottle.



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