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An Open Letter to a Swedish "Artist" who Paints in Holocaust Ashes - By Shimon Samuels

Mr. Carl Michael von Hausswolff you have stolen the ashes of Jewish Holocaust victims from the crematoria of Majdanek, where thousands
perished in the gas chambers.

You have diluted their ashes in water to produce a painting on canvas currently displayed as "Memory Works" in the Martin Bryder Gallery of Lund, Sweden.

Perhaps you are unaware that your paintbrush has violated a core value,
of monotheistic religious faiths inherited from its Jewish sources: respect for the sanctity of human life and for its vessel, its mortal body fashioned in the image of its Creator.

Judaism consider the body as inviolable through its terrestrial journey, its user has no right to deface it or take its life. Its corpse is washed and prepared for burial within hours of its decease to return to the Creator from whence it came.

The paroxysm of Nazi Jew-hatred was not satisfied with the victim's murder but required the physical debasement and effacement of his human remains.

Mr. von Hausswolff, you, like the Nazis' use of human skin for lampshades and fat to produce soap have similarly twice murdered the bodies that were once the ashes you have desecrated, turning art into abomination. Hitler,as an aspirant painter, would have surely applauded.

Some might ask, "is your necrophilia a mental sickness or a commercial
design?"

This is hardly relevant. What you have done transcends your personal perversity. In stripping all dignity from the dead of a grandparent generation, you have encouraged the young to choose barbarism over conscience, the dark ages over civility.

Mr. von Hausswolff, we recommend two gestures to attempt to assuage your damage:

- return your painting to the Majdanek camp authorities for re-burial of the diluted ashes in its mass grave.
- endow your own mortal ashes for use by a young painter as a work in your own image to be cremated.

From dust to dust.

Shimon Samuels is Director for International Relations of the Simon Wiesenthal Centre