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The Screening Room
MARTIN: THE STORY OF
DR. MARTIN KIESELSTEIN
 

My name is Dr. Kieselstein.  I was born in Transylvania.  They took us to a concentration Camp. I Was at Auschwitz, Rotschweig, Alach and Dachau.  At Auschwitz I was separated from my mother and remained with my father. For 50 years I never knew what happened to them. What haunts me to this day is that I don't know what happened to my mother. Did she die in a battle, of wounds and how did her life end? I don't know who died first, my mother or my sister. This eats away at me daily.

I decided in the concentration camp to become a doctor in order to help those who had been in the camps. First, I went to Safed to learn Hebrew. Afterwards, I worked at the Bikur Holim hospital in Jerusalem. From there and because my father suffered a stroke, I wanted to work with the chronically ill. The hospital was located on Tel Hai Street. It was not easy work. I excelled at it for thirty years and as a result I was rewarded with the "Yakir Jerusaem" (Worthy of Jerusalem).

One of the things I did was to put flowers in the stairwells so when the family visited the parents they were able to bring a flower to them. I also prepared chocolates for these visits.

I organized of group of 7 senior citizens like myself to learn the art of using glass. I procured an artist who is an expert in this area.

This didnít turn out even, should I cut it? First color it taking the colors from there and then cut it.

I have to tell you that this woman is doing very well. She does special things. Look at this plate. What does it say? Matzo. That is really fantastic.

During a Holocaust Day commemoration there were 50 or 60 people who had been in the concentration camps. What I am doing now is listening to their stories from the war and producing a sculpture of a particular story they relate.

When I was in Auschwitz, Poland, I understood the huge destruction the Nazis had done and I decided to make artistic works that portrayed and represented the concentration camps. In exhibitions in Germany, I wanted to show the Germans in a cultural manner what they did to us. Why did I do this? When I was in Poland with my granddaughter and her high school, they took us to see a place that housed 1500 Jews. The Captain took the Jews to the train station. When the train didn't arrive, they took the 1500 Jews to the forest and murdered all of them.

This is a fantastic story. When they got off the train, the mother was holding a baby. A camp inmate advised the mother to give the baby to the grandmother. She would then be able to work. She could not understand. The grandmother and the baby were killed and the mother survived.

I feel obligated as long as I live to make these sculptures. I took Asher as one example and he will tell his story.

This sculpture represents the roll call in the camp, Auschwitz-Birkenau. I left the camp to work. I was the only one in the children's block to leave the camp. When we returned from work we heard sirens and we were delayed from entering the camp for several hours. The Germans didn't enter the camp until it was ready for roll call. When I got to the block late I had missed the roll call. An officer made me undress until I was completely naked and gave me 35 blows as punishment for being late.

This work commemorated the time I was taken from my home town to Auschwitz. This is the Hungarian guard. We were not allowed to drink. It was terrible.

This man from Poland was sent to Siberia as a young boy wearing short pants. There was a tailor there who made him a fine pair of long pants but because they were so nice he didn't want to give it to the boy and kept the pants for himself.

I am not an artist. I want to express myself. It is of no interest what an artist would say about my work. I want to create to tell a story. What is important is not how pretty it is but what it represents.

 

Director: Ruth Keusch

Photographed and edited by Ruth Keusch and Uzi Sivan. Produced by Harriet Kasow. Interviewer Naomi Shott.  2010
 



 


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