Tuesday, August 5

Creativity, Art, and Beauty in Auschwitz

Alma Rose, Jewish Violinist and Conductor
of the Women's Orchestra at Auschwitz
"We found ourselves hushed by delicate floating butterflies and cheery watercolor flowers that had no place within the camp's barbed wire walls.  We were moved by the coexistence of evil and sheer beauty, seemingly both allowed to flourish in the same place."

~Kristy Cambron, The Butterfly and the Violin

If you're like I was, you don't realize that after World War II ended, hundreds upon hundreds of Jewish prisoner artwork was found hidden throughout Auschwitz.  There were more than 200 artists of all nationalities as prisoners in Auschwitz, as well as in other concentration camps. 

If you're like I was, you also don't realize there was a women's prisoner orchestra.  Alma Rosé was a beautiful Jewish violinist who was forced to conduct the women's orchestra in the Auschwitz concentration camp.  This women's orchestra played upbeat music as women left to work throughout the camps each day.  Later, they were forced to play as new arrivals, women and children, walked unsuspecting to their deaths.  How could they do that?  How could they play their beautiful music as their fellow Jewish sisters walked to their deaths?  The story of The Butterfly and the Violin grapples that question.  This is a book that touched my heart, and taught me history I had no inkling of before.  I love books that do that!  And this one couldn't be released during a more perfect time!  If you follow the news at all, you know that anti-Semitism isn't dead. It's heartbreakingly alive and real.  It's what made the horrors of WWII possible.  And it's not something we should be ignoring.  God is certainly not ignoring it, and God's people should not take it lightly.

More than anything, this book, fiction though it may be, magnified  the steadfastness of the human spirit and the truth that God will make beauty from ashes.  Even in ashes.  When Jews found themselves in Auschwitz, they actually saw the horror of ashes floating on the breeze.  They endured things no human being should ever have to endure.  And yet, they found and even created beauty there.  My favorite Jewish prisoner artwork is by Mieczyslaw Koscielniak, painted in 1944 and 1945 during his imprisonment at Auschwitz:


To view more Jewish art of the Holocaust, visit Last Expressions.  To read the fictional account of the women's prisoner orchestra, read The Butterfly and the Violin.  Have a blessed day, and pray for Israel!  And if you live near me and want to borrow this book, please let me know!