Stanford professors find works of art from darkest moments of Holocaust

Historians in the News

In the darkest days of the Holocaust, sparks of Jewish creativity ignited throughout Europe — poignant music, beautiful watercolors, haunting poems and even hopeful graffiti, scribbled on a wall en route to Auschwitz.

A husband-wife team of Stanford professors are on a quest to bring greater recognition to these once forbidden, and almost forgotten, works. Their research has led to a pair of courses in the emerging field of "creative resistance" — one for Stanford undergraduates and another for adults in Stanford Continuing Studies — which will be offered later this year....

"It was spread all over the 20 countries that Nazis occupied. It happened in every language and in every place. It was not hundreds of people. It was countless," said John Felstiner of Stanford's Department of English.

Such creativity put Jews at great risk and had no practical benefit. Materials were scarce, and many artists, writers and musicians were scared and hungry. Facing death, they sought to leave behind something of themselves — boldly imagining a time when the Nazis no longer ruled, say the professors.

"It did not serve as much as another piece of bread. It didn't kill one Nazi. It didn't stop anything," said Mary Felstiner, a visiting professor of history. "But it gave them the morale to go another day. And when we look at these works, we see transcendence."...
Read entire article at San Jose Mercury-News

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