Manfred Bockelmann’s Portraits of Children Murdered in Holocaust to be Exhibited at Stockton University

For Immediate Release; with Bockelmann photos

Contact:         Maryjane Briant
                        News and Media Relations Director
                        Galloway Township, NJ 08205
                        (609) 652-4593

 Galloway, N.J. - “Drawing Against Oblivion,” an exhibition of  internationally renowned artist Manfred Bockelmann’s large-scale charcoal portraits of children murdered in the Holocaust, will be exhibited for the first time in the United States at Stockton University’s Art Gallery from Sept. 6-Nov. 13.

The powerful, moving show has received international attention, including its inaugural exhibit at the Leopold Museum in Vienna in 2013 and at the Bundestag, the German parliament in Berlin, to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz in 2015.

Bockelmann, who lives in Austria, has said: “I don’t show martyrs, heaps of dead bodies or ill-treated faces deprived of their individuality and marked by hunger, disease and exhaustion. Rather, I show individuals who have to face their ordeals.”

Over 50 portraits memorialize children and youths who were between the ages of 2 and 18 when they fell victim to Nazi terror.

Diethard Leopold, who curated the Viennese exhibit, said: “The portraits are based on police shots taken by the authorities at the time - the Gestapo, the SS and the medical profession - after the children’s deportation to hospitals and camps. They were already wearing the infamous broad-striped convicts’ suits and had their heads shaven. Others, mainly Roma and Sinti [Gypsies], were asked to report to the authorities for a photo call. Eager to make a good impression, they were wearing their best clothes. While they didn’t know what awaited them, their faces are all clearly marked by fear and uncertainty.”

Leopold added, “Certainly the portraits are heartbreaking to behold, they leave one speechless and make one inclined to look away. And yet, when looking at them, these young people whose lives were taken, seem to come back to life through our remembrances. ... Bockelmann transforms inhuman distance into closeness.”

The university will host two special events related to the exhibition on Wednesday, Oct. 26:

An exhibition panel discussion will be held at 2:30 p.m. in the lower art gallery, with Bockelmann, Andrea Heymann, a Stockton graduate, Carol Rittner, Distinguished Professor Emerita of Holocaust and Genocide Studies,  Elisa von Joeden-Forgey, assistant professor in Holocaust and Genocide Studies, and Marion Hussong, professor of Literature and The Carol Rittner Professor of Holocaust and Genocide Studies at Stockton, who is Bockelmann’s niece. Kate Ogden, professor of Art History, will serve as moderator.

The award-winning film, “Drawing Against Oblivion,” will be screened at 7- 9:30 p.m. in the Campus Center Theatre. The event is free, but tickets are required. Call 609-652-9000 to reserve tickets.

The film, which documents Bockelmann’s creation of the series of works by the same name, was made by Final Frame, an international film crew based in Munich, Germany. They shadowed Bockelmann for 18 months, capturing his visits to archives in the United States and at the Auschwitz concentration camp, where he came face-to-face with the children through photographs and records. The film also includes his 2014 visit at Stockton with Murray Kohn, a Holocaust survivor and retired faculty member who received a special portrait of his little sister from Bockelmann.

The film won "Best International Documentary” at the Garden State Film Festival, three gold medals at the 2015 New York Film Festivals and has received numerous international awards.

The free public screening will be followed by panel discussion with Bockelmann, Executive Producer David Kunac of Final Frame Productions, Director Bärbel Jacks, Hussong, and Adrienne Parvin, a student in the master’s in Holocaust & Genocide Studies program. Christine Farina, professor of Communications and an award-winning filmmaker, will serve as moderator.

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