Friday, March 20, 2009

Sorry for the delay in posting the next stage of this piece but we have had no internet access where we were in Bali.
Knowing that some of you were on the edge of your seats it was frustrating not to be able to post but we just arrived back today.

Gifted antique marble papers from Judi Riesch, Philadelphia.

Thanks for all the wonderful and heartfelt comments about this piece. They were truly amazing and inspiring for me and it means so much to me that bloggers are reading this important artwork.

So without any further delay...

“The Righteous”
Part 3

It was a beautiful autumn day. The Vistula’s waters reflected the foliage of a Polish autumn. The Wavel, the ancient castle of the Polish kings looked as majestic as ever.

A boat of Jew being deported along The Vistula

Mothers strolled with their little children and she, the young Jewish mother, was trying to hold back her tears.

Seperation of Jews who had to sit in the back of Trolley Cars

She slowed her hasty, nervous steps so as not to betray herself and changed her hurried pace to a leisurely stroll as if she too were out to enjoy the sights of ancient Cracow.

Found and repaired, a discarded cutlery box found on a Sydney Street

To thwart all suspicion Helen displayed a huge cross hanging around her neck and stepped in for a moment to the Holy Virgin Church in the Old Square.

Found old cross, vintage jewellery vault, Sydney Australia

Smuggling little Shachne out from the ghetto to the Aryan side was indeed timely.

Found Polish text in local Library Book sale and rusty porthole-type object, gift from Jen Crossley

In March 1943, the Cracow ghetto was liquidated.

People in the work camp adjacent to the ghetto were transferred to nearby Plaszow and to the more distant Auschwitz. Anyone found hiding was shot on the spot.

Cracow Ghetto

Cracow the first Jewish settlement on Polish soil, dating back to the thirteenth century, was Judenrein!

Found discarded antique Yiddish book New York

Mr and Mrs Jachowitch constantly inquired about the boy's young parents.

Eventually they found out that the Hillers had shared the fate of most of Cracow's Jews.

Both of them were consumed by the flames of theHolocaust.

Found cross, New York and found poem with found vintage book Sydney, Australia

Mr& Mrs Jachowitch, also, faced many perilous days.

They moved to a new home in a different town.

From time to time they had to hide in barns and haystacks.

Found vintage book Sydney, Australia

When little Shachne suffered from one of his crying spells, calling for his mother and father they feared that unfriendly suspicious neighbours would betray them to the Gestapo. But time is the greatest healer.

Found antique original music sheet, recycle shop, Sydney, Australia

Little Shachne stopped crying. Mrs Jachowitch became very attached to the child and loved him like her own. She took great pride in her “son” and loved him dearly. His big, bright, wise eyes were always alert and inquiring.

Found tin type paper frame holder, Philadelphia

She and little Shachne never missed a Sunday service and he soon knew by heart all the church hymns. A devout Catholic herself, Mrs Jachowitch decided to baptize the child and indeed make him into a full-fledged Catholic.

She went to see a young, newly ordained parish priest who had a reputation for being wise and trustworthy. Mrs Jachowitch revealed to him her secret about the true identity of the little boy who was entrusted to her and her husband and told him of her wish to have him baptized so that he might become a true Christian and a devout Catholic like herself.

The young priest listened intently to the woman’s story. When she finished her tale, he asked, “And what was the parent’s wish when they entrusted their only child to you and your husband?”

Waxed papers from a book for Jewish Children from Ruth Rae, the title is seen here, "Ways to keep the Commandments".

Mrs Jachowitch told the priest about the letters and mother's last request that the child be told of his Jewish origins and returned to his people in the event of his parent’s death.

The young priest explained to Mrs Jachowitch that it would be unfair to baptize the child while there was still hope that the relatives of the child might take him.
He did not perform the ceremony.
This was in 1946.

Found rusty antique artist paint tin in recycle shop Sydney, Australia

Sometime later, Mr Jachowitch mailed the letters to the United States and Canada. Both Mrs Berger from Washington and Mr &Mrs Aron from Montreal responded, stating their readiness to bring the child to the USA and Canada immediately.

Found text within antique book spine

But then a legal battle began on both sides of the Atlantic that was to last four years. Polish law forbade Polish orphan children to leave the country. The immigration laws of the US and Canada were strict & no visa was issued to little Shachne.

Found 1940's toy car, Sydney Australia

Finally in 1949, the Canadian Jewish Congress obtained permission from the Canadian government to bring 1210 orphans to the country. It was arranged for Shachne to be included in this group, the only one in the group to come directly from Poland.

Meantime a court action was instituted in Cracow, and Shachne was awarded, by a judge in Poland, to the representatives of the Canadian American relatives.

In June 1949 Shachne Hiller boarded the Polish liner MS Batory, the parting from Mrs Jachowitch was a painful one.

Found antique passenger identification tag Melbourne Australia

Both cried but Mrs Jachowitch comforted little Shachne that it was the will of his real mother that one day he should be returned to his own people.

On July 3, 1949, the MS Batory arrived at pier 88 at the foot of west 48th street in New York City. Aboard was little Shachne, first class passenger cabin no. 228.

He was met by his relatives, Mrs Berger and Mrs Aron. For the next year Shachne lived in Canada. On December 19, 1950, after two years of lobbying by Mrs Berger, President Harry S Truman signed a bill into law making Shachne Hiller a ward of the Berger Family. When Shachne arrived at the Berger’s' home on Friday February 9, 1951, there was a front-page story in the Washington Post.

Found antique book, Sydney Australia

It was more than eight years since Shachnes’ maternal grandmother ReizelWurtzel, in the ghetto of Cracow, had written the letter to her sister-in-law (his great-aunt) Mrs Berger, asking her to take her little grandson to her home and heart. Her will and testament were finally carried out.

Found part spine of book which says "One Jude" - "One Jew"

Years passed. Young Shachne was educated in American universities and grew up to be a successful man, vice-president of a company, as well as an observant Jew. The bond between him and Mrs Jachowitch was a lasting one.

They corresponded, and both Shachne and his great-aunt Mrs Berger continually sent her parcels and money, and tried as much as possible to comfort her in her old age. He preferred not to discuss the Holocaust with his wife, sons, family, or friends. Yet all of them knew about the wonderful Mr and Mrs Jachowitch who saved the life of a Jewish child and made sure to return him to his people.

In October 1978, Shachne, now Stanley, received a letter from Mrs Jachowitch.

Found book page in an antique book titled "Left in charge" Australia

In it she revealed to him,
for the first time,

her inclination to baptize him and raise him as a Catholic.

She also went on to describe, at length, her meeting with the young Parish Priest on that fateful day.

Found cover and back of photo album, gift from Michael deMeng, from Italy

Indeed, that young Parish Priest was none other than the man who became

Found and repaired antique bible cover and back- fought hard for but lost the bidding war at an auction in Sydney Australia - I walked away shattered, only to be offered the cover and back, not the contents for a minimal sum after the crowd booed and hissed the purchaser who was told I needed it for a piece of art - love my supportive auction competitors who knew I really needed the item but could not afford to go as high as the winner.

Cardinal Karol Wojtyla of Cracow

on October 16, 1978

Found antique French haberdashery sign Sydney

was elected by the College of Cardinals


Pope John Paul II.

Found antique book whilst in Philadelphia shopping with Judi Riesch, Karen Cole and Leslie Marsh

Found antique pearl buttons attached to the Papal Cross to represent the "hidden"child - as pearls are hidden within an oyster so to Shachne was hidden, only to be revealed when safe.
This story was based upon several of the conversations of YaffaEliach with Shachne Hiller his family, and his mother-in-law, September 1977-October, 1981.YaffaEliach. 1982. Hasidic Tales of the Holocaust. New York: Avon Books.

Thank you for reading these posts and for viewing this amazing tale of courage.
Courage from a mother
Courage from a Non-Jewish neighbour
Courage from a young Priest

For me this story of heroism is a lesson for all of us today.
I was left questioning whether or not I would have had the courage to stand up and take in a child that was not mine and would, in doing so, put my life and that that of my family’s at risk, not for a day, but for years. It is impossible to answer.

Imagine the strength of Mrs Jachowitz to bring up a child not her own, to hide his true identity then to fall in love with the child and then to have to give him up. She did not have to reveal the identity of the hidden child to the Priest, however being a truly religious Christian, she did just that.

Imagine the presence of mind, the emotions and fortitude of Helen Hiller to separate herself from and to try and save her child.

Imagine the strength of character of a young, Pope John Paul II, to keep the secret of the hidden Jewish child and to insist that he be given back to his people.

Imagine what we can all do if we opened our hearts to each other today and let the courage of our convictions and the humanity within each and everyone of us to shine through.

The Righteous Among The Nations, truly honourable people and wonderful examples of human kind at their best.

Thankyou and please

Never Forget!


Karen Cole said...

This is a momentous occasion.
Not only am I the first to comment, I don't think that's happened since you started this blog....or was it the other blog.....I am actually the first to see this finished piece?

AMAZING story.Amazing piece. I think it's wonderful how you interspersed it with stories of the found objects as well. A story within a story.

Glad you are back safe and sound. I'm looking forward to hearing stories of Bali......hi!

Anonymous said...

WOW Judy...what an incredible amazing...and the art that accompanies it? REALLY magnificent...well done!!

Anonymous said...

Simply outstanding! Such meaning... Thank you Judy!

Anne, Bulles dorées said...

our artwork is really emotional !!

Ontheroad said...

You have done an admirable and truly inspiring artistic work to represent a story of rescue.

Thank you for sharing it beyond your own imagination and doorstep.

rscoach said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
rscoach said...

Judy - tears roll down my cheeks as I read this story - I adore your work - both the art and the way you keep the story of Holocaust alive so we never forget - I have a cousin by marriage - Polish Jews- who, along with his sister, were saved from death by being cared for by Christians - he was dressed as a little girl for years to protect him - amazing! Thank you - thank you - thank you - You inspire me more than anyone I know - I'm thrilled because I am lucky enough to be in your class in NoHo at Carol Parks studio in August! Can't wait to meet you and study with you - Reva (Los Angeles)

J Santa Fe said...

Judy -- - let me add my thanks to all those who have been touched by your incredible story and, as always, your remarkable art.
I so enjoyed seeing the article in the latest Somerset.

Well done, indeed!

Judy Wise said...

I sat on the edge of my chair throughout the telling of this wonderful piece of history that I will never forget. This wasn't so very long ago that these things happened to people just like us. We must remember how good people can be but also how terrible and we must do all we can to make sure that intolerance is a thing of the past. All of your work is precious, Judy. Thank you for it.

Elizabeth said...

This is an amazing story and an amazing piece of art work on your part. You also tell us that we must continue to do these things in places like Our won home towns and in Darfur and other parts of aAfrica- poeple are doing such things in Tibet and in CHina and in Tanzania and in Gaza. We mUst never forget and WE MUST CONTINUE TO ACT AND DO WHAT IS RIGHT FOR ALL OF THE CHILDREN OF THE WORLD!!
Thank you for sharing this wonderful story with all of us!!
Again- you ahve given us an incredible gift!!

Anonymous said...

I have been one of those ones waiting for part 3. What a story teller you are, images and all. I am a Christian and an artist and the only thing I know about Jewish people is what I've heard in church (which is more I've heard in my whole life). I was raised Catholic but don't ever remember hearing anything about Jewish people. The way you tell these stories through art is truly captivating.

Lynn said...

Well, I started to read this and I said to myself out loud, I am not going to cry.
Well, so much for thoughts and words. I did.
This is truly a wonderful story and no, I did not know this one about the priest who became Pope John II.
And Judy you are amazing.
How all these pieces find YOU.
How You put them all together so
so beautifully
with so much feeling and love.
I am again deeply moved by your art form.
Thank you,
from the bottom of my humble Jewish heart.

Anonymous said...

As always a stunning and dramatic conclusion and a lesson for all of us. Thank you for sharing your art work and the incredible story that goes with it.

Lisa Crofts

Studio Panorama said...

I am speechless. What an amazing story and truly amazing artwork.

Bev Froese

Marie said...

Judy, I am sitting here with tears running down my cheeks. You truly have been given a wonderful gift from God to piece together all these amazing treasures to form such beautiful artwork. The greatest gift, you have been given and which you so generously share with us, is the gift of telling the story of these people. Thank you.

Jen Crossley said...

Truely remarkable Judy amazing story and amazing piece

Judy Streger said...

Your art touches the soul of each of us who is fortunate enough to experience your work in ways that you may never imagine. Thank you so much for sharing this remarkable story and your extraordinary art. I hope some day to meet you in person so that I may look you in the eyes and thank you in person for making history real and personal.

HeArt Collective said...

wow, i don't even know that i have words to tell you how grateful i am to see work as moving and amazing as this.

the story is amazing and your work truly tells the story... wow.

thanks for taking the time to share your work this way.

Megan Warren said...

What a legacy! thank you for sharing the story and your artwork. They shall never be forgotten.

Sam Marshall said...

Judy, thank you for sharing this remarkable story.

paris parfait said...

A magnificent story and brilliant art piece, Judy. Really moving and important. Some teachers in Paris are as we speak hiding immigrant children, so they won't be sent back to their home countries. The French law says the children can't be sent back without the parents or the parents without their children, so the teachers are hiding the children and the parents are forced to hide themselves, without their children. Your Visual Anthologies are fantastic, not only for their beauty, but for their humanity. Bravo! xo

Sharon said...

In awe of your telling power

Nikki Lee Anne Ghilain said...

Ohhh Thank You so very much for sharing.......the story, the art and the heart.

Cheryl Carey Bass said...

There isn't a thank you big enough for the time and effort you've put into this living memory. Though we will never be able to fully appreciate all that happened in the Holocaust, each time one Jew is remembered, as you have done, a soul is set free. I believe you are doing a greater work than just restoring the art and resurrecting the are bringing peace to tortured souls, one by one, by one. Thank you.

Beth said...

Judy, thank you so much for sharing this story. I'm attending your class in August and can't wait to finally meet you in person.
Regards, Beth

Rebekah said...

I was sent to your blog through a link at Paris Parfait - and what a gift that was. I'm overwhelmed by the story and by the artifacts - both so tenderly depicted. Let us Never Forget. The history of the Jewish people, and certainly this part of history is part of the fiber of all of us. Thank you for speaking of it to point us to remembrance.

Ro Bruhn said...

Welcome home Judy. You're a brilliant storyteller with words and pictures. The effort you go too to tell a story is incredible, you do it so well. Thank you for sharing this amazing story, one most of us would never have known about.

Leslie said...

What a fascinating story Judy! You never cease to amaze me.


Shelly said...

I have chill bumps reading this. It is only through stories like these that one learns how many lives can be affected by the selfless act of one person. And that wisdom is not necessarily something that only accrues with old age, but starts with a true heart and strong convictions as it did for Pope John Paul.
What a wonderful, wonderful historical account and as always, your work is spellbinding.

All the best,

Brilliant to use the pearls and cross to symbolize the hidden child.

Kim said...

Hi Judy, I am so moved by both the words and the beautiful art you have created to tell this story, crying as I type. In one of those wierd moments the universe throws at us occaisionally, I am currently reading a novel (The Book Thief) based on an almost exact same tale of a child given up to another family to raise during the rise of the nazis in Germany. Weird but true. Love this piece, thanks so much for sharing an amazing story made ever so much more fantastic by truth.

R2artstudio said...

Thank you Judy for all you do with your stories and art. Because of your Anthologies, I now have real images to hold on to and not forget the past. Again, you have created a masterpiece.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the story. The strength these people had from the heart. Just incredible..Love the shoes they are perfect...
Nancy A.

A bird in the hand said...

The human spirit knows no bounds. I love you for recording it so beautifully.

I admit, as a Catholic, I never liked any pope or the concept of a pope, apart from the gentle John Roncalli. I especially didn't like John Paul II, but I have to hand it to him; he did the right thing, the honorable and true thing.

C. xxoo

tinker said...

I just found your site, and I am so moved, so awed. This is so tragic and yet so poignantly beautiful - you've captured the essence of this story and elevated it, through the alchemy of art, to shine the light on the resiliance and generosity of the human spirit...
Thank you for creating it and sharing it. No matter how far we think we've come, how distant in the past those times might seem - we must never forget.

Chrisy said...

Thank you so much for the gift of this post...

azirca said...

Everyone has echoed my thoughts already....
However just let me say that... you are amazing! To be able to portray such a moving and heartfelt story so succinctly and stir so many emotions in a piece of art is truly a great gift.


Sharon Manning said...

Another magnificent piece of history re-birthed! Stunning work.

The Junkin' Yaya said...

My dear loving & talented friend---I have no words to describe once again your incrediable talent of bringing history alive through your hands and your heart!

Call I can hear all about your trip! Talk to ya soon...


Susan Tuttle said...

Oh Judy -- i have no words to give that would ever do this artwork justice. Thank you for this amazing story and your elevating of it to a work of art.


Seth said...

Thank you once again Judy for taking the time and effort to share with all of us. The art you have created is breathtaking, the story you interweaved is mesmerizing, and both together make for one powerful experience. You never, ever cease to amaze me!

Judi said...

OK. I'm not going to say anything, because there is truly nothing to say. Bless you.

Cre8Tiva said...

another piece that renders me speechless...thank you for sharing so generously...i love the pope book..i am celebrating my 3rd blogacersary this week with a BiG GiVeAwAy...please come join in and spread the word...blessings, rebecca

JudyK said...

It's an wonderful story and an amazing piece.sperp

nelda ream said...

This is stunning and so deeply moving. Thank you.

Coco said...

That was truly fascinating.

Riki Schumacher said...

Judy, I am a new follower, but will be a steady one, after this fabulous creation you have posted. What a vivid story. What incredible work you do. I wish I had known you were teaching at A&S in Portland. Any engagements in the US for the future?

Robyn said...

I'm at a loss for words Judy. Thank you for sharing this story. Your work is truly amazing.

Heather said...

Wow, this is so powerful. Your art here and the story are amazing and so beautiful. Very happy to have stumbled upon your blog here :)

Lesley said...

This is absolutely stunning. It brought back all of the feelings that I feek wgeb walk into the Holocaust Museum in DC. What a story of love and courage that spanned not only oceans but religions and heritages. Thank you for sharing.

Lesley said...

I hate typos. That should have been "feel when I"

Heather said...

What an amazing story - and what insurmountable difficulties some people have in their lives. It makes me feel very humble and grateful for the life I have. You are right - we must never forget.

Miss Merricat said...

I can think of nothing else to say except thank you. Thank you for this.