Thursday, March 19, 2009

POST3 Clare - Auschwitz Holocaust Survivor Subculture tattoos

Auschwitz Holocaust Survivors - an unexpected subculture, by Clare

Eva Mozes Kor..encourages all Auschwitz     survivors to speak publicly.
 Rose Bour
 Who knows what happened to this little innocent?

Tattooing is not always a choice.  Certainly not for the survivors of the Auschwitz Nazi death camps during WWII, this subculture made up of many peoples of differing backgrounds, who shared an experience more indelible than the tattoos they continue to wear.  Keeping the tattoo has become a choice, an empowerment.   As tattooed survivors of Auschwitz, these people - Roma, Jews, Poles, political prisoners, Jehovah's Witnesses, homosexuals and other people the Nazi's didn't like, most see "surviving as a victory," says Thomas Buergenthal, a Czechoslovakian Jew.  Buergenthal was a child at Auschwitz.  And it was only those at Auschwitz interred after 1941 that were tattooed with a series of numbers.  This dehumanised the prisoners, infant to adult, and perhaps was used for identification in the event of prisoner escape.  the tattoos were originally branded with a rotating number stamp made up of many needles, and ink was rubbed into the bleeding wound.  Most Auschwitz survivors have kept their tattoos as a visible reminder.  For jews particularly, being tattooed was against their religious beliefs, but my research indicated that most kept theirs.  In some case, their younger relations have had themselves tattooed with the same numbers.  Many not for profit organisations arrange exhibitions and speakers, identifying these survivors as part of a subculture part of humanity and yet forever different.  The subculture was begun unawares and unwillingly, yet those of this subculture bear their visible tattoos by choice.  They choose to remember and remind.

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