One of the first freelance jobs I got in Berlin was salvaging a website for Christian Ender. Over the past three years, I’ve looked after imdialog, taken care of two other sites for Christian, and he has become one of my good friends here. A couple of weeks ago he called me and explained he was being awarded the Bundesverdienstkreuz for his work that these websites document over the past years.
Last Friday, he was awarded the medal by the Staatssekretär, and following that, a long lunch and many drinks with a large group of friends and family.
I am very happy for Christian to have all his work recognised — for Werner Bab and “Zeitabschnitte”, for Gunter Kroemer and “Bedrohtevölker” — and for him to receive the recognition he is due.
And at the end of the month, he departs for South America with a camera.
One of the first sites I did as a freelancer was porting imdialog-ev.org from a dead cms into WordPress for photographer and documentary maker (and philosopher) Christian Ender. Imdialog! is a documentary project on Werner Bab, a Berliner Jew who was sent to Auschwitz in 1942. He survived there, as well as Mauthausen and Ebensee, to return to Berlin after the war.
Christian documented Werner’s journey through the camps in Zeitabschnitte des Werner Bab, which has been shown across Germany in schools and around the world accompanied by Werner, who would speak on his experiences.
Werner died on 31st July, aged 86.
In den Abendstunden des 31. Juli 2010 ist Werner Bab plötzlich und unerwartet friedlich eingeschlafen, wenige Wochen vor seinem 86. Geburtstag.
Die letzten fünf Jahren engagierte sich Werner Bab unermüdlich und warb für Demokratie, Toleranz und Völkerverständigung.
Mit seiner lebensbejahenden und positiven Einstellung stand er in über 150 Gesprächen vor über 20.000 Schülern als Zeitzeuge zur Verfügung.
Offen beantwortete Werner Bab die gestellten Fragen zu seinen Erlebnissen als Häftling in den Konzentrationslagern Auschwitz, Mauthausen und Ebensee, um vor den Folgen totalitärer Regime zu warnen.
Um dieses Engagement zu unterstützen wurde der Verein „imdialog!e.V.“ gegründet, welcher nun aufgelöst wird.
Diese Internetseite, das hier bereitgestellte Gäste- und Gedenkbuch sowie die in 19 Sprachen untertitelte Dokumentation „Zeitabschnitte des Werner Bab“ werden in Erinnerung an Werner Babs Wirken weiter aufrechterhalten.
In stiller Trauer,
Im August 2010
On the evening of July 31, 2010, Werner Bab passed away peacefully. His death was sudden and unexpected, just a few weeks before his 86th birthday.
During the past five years, Werner Bab worked tirelessly toward democracy, tolerance and international understanding.
With his optimistic and positive attitude to life, he shared his experiences of the concentration camps of Auschwitz, Mauthausen and Ebensee, answering questions from more than 20,000 students in over 150 discussions. His aim was to warn people of the consequences of a totalitarian regime.
In order to support this endeavour, the “imdialog!e.V.” association was founded, which has now been dissolved.
The Internet site www.imdialog-ev.org as well as the guest and remembrance book will continue to be maintained to honour the memory of Werner Bab and his achievements.
On this site, one may also request free of charge the complete documentary “Zeitabschnitte des Werner Bab” (“Time Intervals of Werner Bab”). This documentary has been subtitled in 19 languages.
Every time I make a piece, and looking back on it, I think how much more intense and overwhelming it is compared to what I’ve made before, and then I start seeing a bunch of art and think I’m haven’t even begun to make the kind of work that needs to be made right now. There is such an urgent need for art that simply eviscerates the vacillating and dissembling language of politics and media that takes words like genocide and makes them palatable by twisting their meaning and weight, leaving us with ethnic cleansing, like it’s an exotic blend of herbs and spices face wash. Art should be a kick in the guts, every time. It should be so powerful and unequivocal in its damnation of inhumanity it causes governments to be overthrown. It should be like this installation, but most of the time it’s just spineless, timid watery shit.
The artist has parked six cars outside the synagogue and attached their exhaust pipes to the building using plastic tubes. It is then filled with deadly gas. Visitors are invited to go inside one by one wearing a gas mask, escorted by a firefighter. Before being allowed in, they have to sign a disclaimer stating they realise the room is full of carbon monoxide.
The project opened to the public on Sunday, creating huge queues, and runs until the end of April.
Sierra says the installation – entitled 245 cubic metres – is a protest against the “banalisation of the Holocaust”.
However, Jewish leaders in Germany are furious. They described the installation in the Pulheim as “an abuse of artistic freedom”.