Looking at today’s national narratives of the Holocaust, one can find a lot of events that are unheard of or suppressed; experiences which in the course of time have either been erased from the nations’ collective memories or which have been paraphrased. Among these is e.g. the “Kladovo Transport”: between 1939 and 1941, around 1,200 Jewish men, women and children from Vienna tried to escape to Palestine across the Danube and the Black Sea on pleasure steamers. Another near forgotten story is the annihilation of Romanian Jews who were driven out of their homeland to Bessarabia, where they starved by the thousands. The life story of Reinhard Florian, a Sinti man who survived deportation, several Nazi concentration camps, and hard labour, sheds light on the almost unknown persecution of the Sinti people of East Prussia. While these events tell us a lot about the atrocities of the past, they also elucidate the narratives of our present time and society, along with its existing policies of how to remember the Holocaust and National Socialist persecution.
These lesser known events, which hardly ever surface in public awareness, are reappraised and thus saved from oblivion. They illustrate different narratives and ways of remembering the Holocaust in various European countries. They are also a strong reminder of the fact that the past is still alive in the present. The aim of “Redrawing Stories from the Past” is to analyse history far away from institutionalised commemorative practices, and to deal with history and its voids in a theoretical as well as practical way. Comics, which by their interaction of pictures and texts combine several narrative techniques, are able to render and transmit historical events in their simultaneousness and complexity.
The project “Redrawing Stories from the Past” accompanies nine young comic artists from eight European countries in this engagement. By researching and using the medium of the comic, the artists draw closer to hidden and marginalised stories, set in their own neighbourhood, town or home country. The project focuses on stories or historical particularities that have been buried in archives, and have therefore not become part of our collective awareness. These untold European stories are augmented by historic documents, e.g. photos, films, documents, interviews or biographies, and presented to a broader audience in an exhibition and publication.
The first part, Forgotten Victims of National Socialism, is funded by Stiftung Erinnerung, Verantwortung und Zukunft and Kulturstiftung des Freistaates Sachsen in cooperation with Goethe-Institut Belgrad, Elektrika, and AJZ Chemnitz.
The second part, Escape and Migration in Europe, is funded by the Federal Agency for Civic Education (bpb), Goethe-Institut Rom in cooperation with Goethe-Institut Neapel, and Anne Frank Zentrum Berlin.