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Americans show Pope Francis artwork from a Roman Catholic Holocaust survivor

2015-06-07

In 1947, a teenage Holocaust survivor named Arnold Unger emigrated to the United States. He brought with him a leather bound album filled with Holocaust history. Along with jarring photographs of the Dachau concentration camp after it was liberated, there were also 30 pieces of original artwork depicting life in the camp.

Unger died in 1972, but his children kept the album. About a decade ago, Shari Unger showed her father's album to her neighbor.

The images were so unique and historically significant that the two created a foundation around the artifact to promote education and awareness about the Holocaust.

AVI HOFFMAN AND SHARI UNGER KLAGES
The Dachau Album Project
"It includes in it 30 pieces of original artwork that was created by a Roman Catholic prisoner of the camp who had been there for four years up until liberation day.”

The artist was Michael Porulski, a Pole who was arrested in 1939 for creating a drawing that was critical of the Nazi regime.

AVI HOFFMAN AND SHARI UNGER KLAGES
The Dachau Album Project
"And so from the day that Shari and I learned that the artist was a Roman Catholic, we felt that it was very important to see if we could reach the highest levels of the Roman Catholic Church to let them know about this artist's work.”

Their meetings and travels eventually led them to receive a blessing from Pope Francis. They said the experience was powerful, and that the Pope expressed great interest in the album. 

AVI HOFFMAN AND SHARI UNGER KLAGES
The Dachau Album Project
"Not only did His Holiness shake our hands, look at the album, see the artwork by the Catholic artist, but he also apparently spoke in his sermon to the idea that we have to learn the lessons of World War II, so that we don't keep repeating them in the genocides that are happening today.”

Coming to Rome helped them show that the experience of the Holocaust was shared by all kinds of people from throughout the world.

They are currently filming a documentary about the album and are planning to have the artwork and photographs shown in museums throughout the world. They hope that some of the people in never-before-seen photographs may be identified as the album gets more attention.


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Up: MPI