The Auschwitz Tattoo in Visual Memory

Kinderblock 66 - Return to Buchenwald

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Kinderblock 66 - Return to Buchenwald, Rob L. Cohen, USA/Israel/D/CZ 2012

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The direct use of the footage showing the children in Auschwitz with the number tattoos is a prototypical case of a generic illustration. The documentary focuses explicitly on child survivors, mainly on children that survived the children’s section in the Buchenwald concentration. Based on interviews with liberators, survivors and experts as well as film footage, photographs and visits to the historical sites of atrocity, the documentary creates a group portrait of children and young adults in the Holocaust. In this sequence, the historical footage from Auschwitz is related to an interview with Holocaust historian Dalja Ofer, which neither refers to the specific fate of the children in Auschwitz, being subject of barbaric medical “experiments”, not to the topic of survival, the two aspects related to the actual footage. To the contrary, Ofer speaks about the majority of children that died during the Holocaust and refers to forced labor and slave labor camps in which young adults had to work until they died. Thereby, this case of a generic illustration also implies a largely decontextualizing use of the sequence.

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