Blessed Be Imagination - May It Be Damned! About the Life Testimonies of Batsheva Dagan

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Batsheva Dagan: Gesegnet sei die Phantasie – verflucht sei sie! Erinnerungen von "Dort" überLebenszeugnisse [Blessed Be Imagination – May It Be Damned! Memories of "There" through Life Testimonies], 120 p. Metropol Verlag: Berlin, 2005, 16,- € (with a postface on the author's biography by Constanze Jeiser)

Bathseva Dagan's poems are memories of her concentration camp experiences as a young girl. Even though poetry and concentration camps seem to exclude each other, many persecuted people have attempted to express the terrors that they lived through during their imprisonment in this special form. Batsheva Dagan's poems, written in a imaginative, direct language that is well understandable for young people, are memories of her experiences in ghettos and concentration camps when she was a young girl. Looking back, she tries to answer the question what it was like to live under the conditions of persecution and concentration camps.

She was born in Łodz in 1925 as Isabella Rubinsteig. Together with her family, she fled from the Germans to the Soviet Union, where she was taken to the ghetto in 1941. While her parents and one of her sisters were killed in Treblinka after the ghetto had been dissolved, she managed to escape with forged documents and sent as a Polish forced labourer to Schwerin in Mecklenburg to work as a maid. After a denunciation she was arrested by the Gestapo and taken via a number of prisons to Auschwitz-Birkenau when she was eighteen years old. She survived until the evacuation of the camp and was taken on one of the "death marches" back to Mecklenburg, to the Malchow camp. (See the project "Dig Where You Are Standing" – Malchow, and extension camp of Ravensbrück" on this website at [node:4290] (Text in German).

She was freed by the British Army on May 2nd at Lübz. Since 1946, Batsheva Dagan has lived in Israel. Of her family, only few survived the Holocaust. She became a psychologist and works with young people and teachers in Israel, Europe and the United States as a contemporary witness. Among other things, she developed a methodology to familiarise children with the topic of "Shoah".

The illustrations by Yaakov Guterman accompanying her descriptions create a personal dialogue of poem and image that make the outrageousness of the Holocaust perceptible.


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