December 11, 2012
“Hitler, as an aspirant painter, would have surely applauded [the painting],” says Wiesenthal Center official
After an international outcry led by the Swedish Jewish community, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, and other activists, a Swedish gallery has taken down an exhibit of a painting that used ashes of Holocaust victims. The painting, by Swedish artist Carl Michael von Hausswolff, contained ashes stolen by him from the Majdanek death camp in Poland (pictured).
In an open letter, Dr. Shimon Samuels, the Wiesenthal Center’s Director for International Relations, told to von Hausswolff that he was “turning art into abomination” and likened the work to the Nazis' use of human skin for lampshades. “Hitler, as an aspirant painter, would have surely applauded,” wrote Samuels. After seeing the letter as well as other protests, Martin Bryder, the gallery owner, closed the exhibit early. Earlier in the week, Bryder had said that he saw “no moral problem or flaw” in showing the piece.
“Aging survivors of the Nazi Holocaust have been shocked beyond word by this grotesque spectacle, and the fact that with very few exceptions, no one in Sweden raised their voices in protest over this outrage,” said Rabbi Abraham Cooper, Associate Dean of the Wiesenthal Center.
“Swedish authorities have apparently dropped a criminal investigation, but von Hausswolff will certainly face the wrath of the ultimate judge for this immoral outrage,” Cooper added.
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The Simon Wiesenthal Center is one of the largest international Jewish human rights organizations with over 400,000 member families in the United States. It is an NGO at international agencies including the United Nations, UNESCO, the OSCE, the OAS, the Council of Europe and the Latin American Parliament (Parlatino).