Last week the Sayle Gallery on the Isle of Man opened a new exhibition which displays wartime works by German and Austrian internees, marking 70 years since the opening of the internment camps. The artists were thousands of men and women sent to the island during World War II. Some were Jewish refugees, arrested by the British as enemy aliens in May 1940. Others were Germans who had been captured by the British and who expected Hitler to liberate them imminently.
The artists used whatever they had to hand – wallpaper, newspapers, boxes, even a piano; and made anything from collages, to sculptures and paintings. Martin Bloch’s Miracle in the Interment Camp is probably the most renowned; it shows herrings being transformed into mermaids as five men sit at a table.
The exhibition illustrates that even though the freedom and creation of art was being impeded on the continent, even in the desperate conditions of British internment camps, art lived on and even thrived.
Forced Journeys runs until 23rd May 2010
Sayle Gallery, Villa Marina Colonnade, 1-3 Harris Promenade, Douglas IM1 2HN
How did a lowly World War One veteran, with neither substantial education or wealth, rise to become the most reviled leader in the modern history of Europe?
In this account of the life of young Adolf Hitler, Claus Hant explores his psychology and development. From the heart of pre-war Vienna through to the horrors of the trenches in World War One, we go straight to the source of the forthcoming death and destruction Hitler unleashed decades later on Europe. We follow the young Adolf Hitler from his years in Linz, to his life as a struggling artist in Vienna, to the hellish trenches of World War One and then to an impoverished post-war Munich. The narrative follows the bizarre series of events that culminate in this lonely and eccentric young man becoming ‘The Fuehrer’ of the Third Reich.
Claus Hant has chosen to write this as a ‘non-fiction’ novel, a narrative in which the writer’s imagination assumes a subordinate role and is a facilitator of factual information. All of the major events experienced by Hitler in the book are based upon the latest academic research. Facts that have been known so far only to a small circle of specialised historians are introduced for the first time to a broader audience. With detailed appendices, this is the most accurate and compelling portrait of the young man who became one of the most notorious political leaders of the twentieth century.
Claus Hant is a German scriptwriter and the creator of a detective series that ran on prime time for over a decade and made German TV history with its audience figures: Der Bulle von Tölz. Hant has also written cinema films, his latest being Der grosse Kater, starring Bruno Ganz (Downfall).
The Artists for World Peace will be touring their Path of Hope orchestral programme that aims to promote love, tolerance, and truth through music.
Over 150 performers and artists will take to the stage in Oswiecim – the home of the Auschwitz concentration camp – on 31 August and in Krakow on 1 September before bringing their message to audiences in London on 2 September.
The oratorio premiered in Poland 11 years ago and organisers are keen to build on their success to “inspire the world to take action for peace” and encourage “universal values such as love, brotherhood, solidarity, and tolerance.”
Following the orchestral performances, artists along with representatives of churches and religious associations will invite the audience to join them in issuing an appeal for peace.
I am always wary of anything that has become a hit, all too often they are quite incredibly over-rated.I am even more wary of novels based around historical events, particularly recent ones, because they can give a false portrayal.For an historian this is incredibly frustrating.However, Galloway, writes convincingly and, as his afterword explains, did a great deal of research in able to publish this novel.Although I would not call it enjoyable as such, I would describe it as a must-read.
The novel is based around three characters whose lives intertwine, albeit loosely, because of the Cellist of Sarajevo whose character is based upon Vedran Smailovic.Vedran Smailovic became renowned for playing Albinoni’s Adagio in G Minor at the site where many were killed when a mortar attack hit while they queued for bread.
The three key characters typify sections of Sarajevo’s society during the siege. There is Arrow, who has sacrificed her identity but attempts to maintain her moral stance despite acting as a sniper for the resistance. She is desperate to not become as evil as those ruining one of the most beautiful and historic cities in the world. However, as events progress, her choices lead her down a path she would have rather avoided. Her struggle to remember her past being intensifies and final re-acceptance of her true self ends the novel dramatically.
Dragan, is an example of many men in Bosnia who helped their wives and children get out before the siege became too bad but believing it would not last long or intensify. However, he is left, lonely and scared and attempts to shy away from the familiar.
Yet, in contrast to Arrow and Dragan who try to forget the past in order to reconcile and learn to live with the current situation, Kenan and his wife cling to any familiarity possible, even if it is just a minute of electricity, a small amount of clean water or a shared joke. Dragan awaits the day he is killed or drafted into the army but tries to hide his fears from his family and maintain a strong fatherly figure.
Each, for a different reason, are drawn to the cellist and his daily, outdoor, risky concert, who and which become a symbol, for some of hope, for some of compassion, for some of the past.
The Siege of Sarajevo 1992-1996:
The siege was the longest siege in the history of modern warfare, stretched from 5 April 1992 to 29 February 1996. The UN estimates that approximately ten thousand people were killed and fifty-six thousand wounded. On 22nd July 1993 an incredible 3777 shells hit the city.Last year, news of Bosnian Serb Army leader, Karadzic’s arrest and trial hit the headlines but unfortunately, General Mladic remains at large, despite attending football matched regularly and publishing a book of poetry.
Sarajevo is a beautiful city, surrounded by the hills in which Tito hid many of his weaponry.Slovenia and Croatia having already sought emancipation from the United Yugoslavia, Bosnia-Hercegovina attempted to gain independence.However, the fear of a an independent, strong and armed Bosnia led the Serbs to attain the weaponry and position themselves in ideal locations to shell key cities such as Sarajevo and Mostar.Although a great deal of reconstruction has taken place, in both Sarajevo and Mostar much destruction can still be seen, no more poignant than the ruined Sarajevo Library.
The Cellist of Sarajevo by Steven Galloway is available nationwide priced at £7.99