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Blurred Edges: Representation of Space in Transgenerational Memory of the Nazi Euthanasia Program

Silvestri, Erika

Maria Fenski was born on 14 August 1905, in Papenburg. At the age of seventeen, she was diagnosed with “dementia” and hospitalized at the Provinzial-Heil-und Pflegeanstalt Osnabrück, where she remained until 16 January 1923. After a marriage, three children, some happy family years, and various commitments to different clinics, she was killed in Neuruppin State Institution in Brandenburg in 1942, as one of the people murdered in the Nazi Euthanasia Program. Her granddaughter, Hannah, produced a series of sixteen paintings dedicated to her grandmother’s story. There are almost no people in Hannah’s artwork, but empty, lonely, symbolic spaces able to create a bond between past and present. The lack of human figures, the use of cold colors and the blurred edges contribute to creating a suspended atmosphere that seems to be full of painful silences and negations. Hannah transferred onto the canvas an echo of the feelings the victims could have felt, living in conditions they could not understand, separated from the world before they were each made to face a solitary death, far from any contact with their families. Analyzing her work, I reflect on the importance of the concept of “Space” in this specific transgenerational transmission of “Aktion T4” family memory.
Published in: Genealogy, 10.3390/genealogy7010019, MDPI