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© 2020 by Susan Silas

Helmbrechts walk, 1998 - 2003

Helmbrechts walk, 1998-2003 is a memorial testament to the forced march of 580 female Jewish prisoners at the end of the Second World War. The march began on April 13th, 1945 in order to evacuate Helmbrechts, a small satellite camp of the Flossenbürg concentration camp, before Allied troops arrived. This work is a visual representation of the 225 miles that the prisoners were forced to march from the camp in Germany into occupied Czechoslovakia. I set out to retrace the path of these women -- 22 days in Germany and the Czech Republic on the 53rd anniversary of the march. I documented this journey on video, in still images and in writings. I created a limited edition unbound book, Helmbrechts walk, 1998 - 2003, which contains 48 - 13" x 19" archival color plates. The images are contextualized by a diary of my own experiences juxtaposed with news clips drawn from the front pages of The New York Times on the same days in 1998 -- thus drawing a connection between the violent events of the past and those being witnessed in the present. This work now exists in an English and a bilingual German/English edition. A historically accurate reconstruction of the march route was possible with the help of the German trial transcript of Alois Dörr and historical maps housed in the New York Public Library.

exhibition history:

2011 Continuity, Zavod Celeia Celje (Center for Contemporary Art)
Celje, Slovenia
2010 Bless my homeland forever - I, too, will try to forget.
Kunsthalle Exnergasse, Vienna, Austria
2010 Der Offene Garten
Kunstverein Grafschaft Bentheim, Neuenhaus, Germany
2009 Hebrew Union College Museum,
New York City
2005 The Koffler Gallery,
Toronto, Canada
2000 University Art Gallery, Staller Center at StonyBrook, Jewishness at the Crossroads, curated by Nicholas Mirzoeff (three screen slide projection)
1999 Chatham College, Pittsburgh Global Focus; Helmbrechts walk, 1998 (work in progress)