Italian language edition of “Fairy Tales from Auschwitz” at the Turin International Book Fair
At this year’s Turin International Book Fair, which is the second largest Book Fair in Europe, the Museum’s Publishing House presented the Italian language edition of Fairy Tales from Auschwitz. The publication brings us closer to an incredible and moving story of the creation of illustrated fairy tales created by prisoners of the German Nazi concentration and extermination camp.
From the accounts of former prisoners, it follows that the of the idea of fairy tales for children left in homes originated in the offices so-called, Bauleitung (camp’s Construction Office), where prisoners worked. Apparently, in 1942 someone brought to the office coloured children's books in Czech language, found near the warehouse for property looted from Jews deported to the camp. The prisoners were really shocked; conscious of the fact that they belonged to children murdered in the gas chambers. It recalled memories of their own children left behind in their homes, whom they believed they will never see again.
‘A few prisoners decided to write and illustrate fairy tales, and then find a way for the tales to reach their families. Approximately 27 prisoners were involved in preparing the stories. Tasks were divided: some wrote or translated the texts, others calligraphed and made illustrations, copied, stapled cards and prepared the covers, while others stood guard, to alarm of any approaching SS officer or unwanted witness to the prohibited activity for which they could be severely punished or even killed,’ said Jadwiga Pinderska-Lech, head of the Museum’s Publishing House.
In total, the prisoners created about 50 copies of fairy tales. The prisoners carried the completed books secretly out of the office, and taking advantage of the SS men's inattention, passed it on to trusted civilian workers with whom they had contact with during working hours. The civilian workers, in turn, sometimes risking their lives, delivered them to the specified addresses.
‘The publication La fiabe di Auschwitz presented at the Book Fair in Turin is a reprint of six copies of fairy tales discovered after the war with a translation into Italian of rhymed stories for the youngest. The story of the fairy tales is also portrayed by a panel exhibition presented at the Museum's book stand,’ - added Pinderska-Lech.
The presence of the Museum’s Publishing House in Turin, for the third time, was also accompanied by a meeting with a witness to history. The guest of honour of this year’s meeting was Batszewa Dagan, who has been living in Israel since the late 40’s of the previous century, former Auschwitz prisoner, poet, psychologist, educator and author of several fairy tales for children.
The Auschwitz Museum has published three of her books: a volume of poems Imagination: Blessed Be - Cursed Be!, If Stars Could Talk, and Czika, the Dog in the Ghetto.