Thursday July 17, 2008

Started writing a piece in response to the image of the body of Evelyn McHale who jumped off the Empire State Building observation deck on May 1, 1947 — and people's responses to it.

I caught the tram to Elsternwick and went to the Jewish Holocaust Memorial where Fred Steiner showed me around. He was arrested in '44 in Hungary at the age of 15 and was in Auschwitz eight months, and then they marched him to Buchenwald and another place of which I did not quite catch the name. He was great was Fred. He wore a half smile more or less the whole time that he was telling me about his experiences. The only time he looked sad was when he was telling me that his daughter is dying of cancer.

Later, I read how Fred was taken by one of the German officers to work at the officer’s home where met the officer’s wife and children.

His wife was so nice to me. She...called me by my name, she offered me coffee. After that I’ve been thinking a lot about her...Did she know what went on 3 or 4 kilometres away? Did she ask the right questions? Did she get the right answers? I honestly want to believe that she did not know – that there were people who were good. It’s much easier to live with yourself if you know these things...I honestly believe that she did not know, but that she did not ask the right questions because, after all, the flames [from the camp’s crematoria] were visible from there as well’.