Den Sorte Diamant - the royal library in Copenhagen. Yuri Dojc's "Last Folio" photo exhibition ,
which was a part of the Jewish Culture Festival. Some pictures of the interior
of the old synagogue, the old mikvah, the old Jewish school and close-ups of
old books falling into dust.
At the entrance, a dozen or so photos of old people, and a short information about the project that resulted in these photos. Few reach the screens hidden on the side and the bench with headphones, where you can watch and listen to a several-minute-long film about the creation of the project.
But I don't need it. I listen to Katya Krausova, who is not only the author of the aforementioned documentary about this exhibition, but also a participant of the Yuri Dojc project, whose father was one of the Slovak Jews survivors. It was this inconspicuous woman and her gift of communication that made me appear at this exhibition.
Two days earlier, I was at the projection of a documentary film about the project "Last Folio", made by Yuri Dojc, the son of one of the Slovakia Jewish survivors. The documentary made by Katya Krausova. A project aimed at finding traces of the Jewish life in Slovakia. It is from this film and from Katya Krausova's relation I know that these portraits of the old people are a part of the several hundred survivors of the Slovakian Holocaust, who were connected to the "Last Folio" project. The project, which took over ten years, reached only a few dozen of them. Their voices and their personal experiences can be heard in this almost two-hour long film about its creation.
It was from Katya Krausova's relation that I learned what happened to Slovakian Jews. I, a descendant of Polish Jews, who had heard so much about the fate of the Jews in the occupied Poland, learned that Slovakia, which had become an independent state after the German Anschluss, had a government led by the Catholic priest Tiso, who said that it is a Christian duty of every Slovak to destroy his eternal enemies, the Jews. That the then existing Slovak government was the only one in the world to have an official agreement with Nazi Germany that it would pay 550 Reichsmark for every Jew that the Germans would irretrievably deport from Slovakia. That, of course, these 550 Reichsmark was paid by the deported Jews themselves. That due to the official policy of the Tiso government, the great majority of the Slovakian Jews, who avoided the deportation to the German extermination camps, survived only in the Orthodox and the Protestant villages. That even after the war, the return of the property taken from Jews was not legally sanctioned, but was depending on the good will of those who took it.
It was from her that I heard about a Protestant pastor who took care of an abandoned Jewish school, where time stopped on one day in 1942, when all from that school were transported to the extermination camps. All the school textbooks, revision notebooks, and yellowed grading sheets were still laying there. Where, in one of the essays corrected with red pencil, a ten or eleven-year-old boy wrote that when he grows up, he will become a forester and will have a house full of deer antlers on the walls, because the people have respect for those who can shoot animals. After this boy and his plans, only these yellowed pages remained. From the several hundred survived Slovakian Jews who were alive at the start of the "Last Folio" project, only one person is left alive, and the books immortalized in Yuri's photographs slowly turn to dust.
Only the statement of Azar Nafisi, the Iranian writer, remains:
"Books in these photographs are not mere objects. As they disintegrate into dust, the camera illuminates how that moment of disintegration is also a moment of immense energy and movement, one last and glorious statement of defiance, resisting both death and oblivion".