How do the Jewish people feel about tattoos?

The future needs memories (ZbE)

The aim of this essay is to investigate the following phenomenon: Why do descendants of concentration camp survivors have their prisoner numbers tattooed?

First of all, the phenomenon and the origin of the prisoner numbers should be examined. Then the history of the tattoo and its position within Israel and Judaism will be presented. The role of the Shoah for the identity of the victims' descendants should also be discussed in order to illustrate the possibility of the former de- and today's construction of identity through the prisoner number. Finally, the relationship between the Shoah and art should be presented in order to show a connection between the phenomenon to be examined and performance art.

The historical (Where does the number come from / what does it stand for?),social science (How does the number / did it work?), educational (How can identity be de- / constructed with a tattoo?), anthropological (What resources does anthropology make available to the construction of identity?), psychological (What is the meaning of trauma / How does the Shoah affect the families concerned?), religious (What does Judaism say about tattoos? What influence does the Shoah have on secularization?) And art historical (How does art judge (taking up /) the prisoner number and tattoos in general? Can the adoption of the prisoner number be interpreted as a performance?) References to the phenomenon should be shown.

The number

“You can forget the names. It's just ballast.

What does a name mean, but a number is always serious - and precise.

You have become numbers. Understand? "[1]

The encyclopedia of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum records that prisoners who were considered fit for work were tattooed in Auschwitz from autumn 1941 and in Birkenau from March 1942, first on the collarbone and (later exclusively) on the left forearm. [2]

Josef Lánik, a concentration camp survivor, describes in his autobiographical novel What Dante didn't see the tattooed prisoner number as a means of identifying the prisoner, for example it is noted down during the selection process within the camp. [3] Even the corpse detachment, which was formed by inmates, has to write down the numbers of the gassed people who have to burn them in the ovens so that they can later be compared with other documents from the camp administration. [4]

In preparation for his escape, Lánik had to make one such document disappear: his proof card, which contained information about him. The tattoo provides information about the information on the identification card, so that the opponent of the regime, with whom he found accommodation after his escape and who has already helped several fugitives and is therefore familiar with the information content of the numbers, will directly recognize him as a Slovak. The year of his imprisonment can also be read from her. [5] Lánik describes the moment when he holds his proof card in his hand to make it disappear:

“Smiling bitterly, he begins to read. First name and surname, yes, that was my name, "delivered on April 13, 1942", correct, nationality - Slovak; yes, profession; yes, masters languages; yes, one would have to add: Polish and a little Russian, teeth, alas, made of gold, made of platinum - none, but I also miss my own, these beasts; Eyes, who knows what he has now for which; Size has probably not changed, special characteristics, who had characteristics when he came here? But now I have a very special feature, that of a living dead person, on the collarbone and on the forearm. "[6]

When the camp leader notices that he is missing and his subordinates cannot find him either, Lánik lets him say something that highlights the status of the people with the prisoner numbers for the Nazi regime:

“I want to hear that nobody is missing! I'll throw you all in the bunker, you sheep's heads! If you can't count, I'll put your clothes on and make numbers out of you, then definitely nobody will be missing. "[7]

When Lánik finally came into contact with people after his escape who also have good connections in politics and who are very socially respected, his tattoo serves that "Brand of the Outlaws"[8], as he also calls it, is the only empirical evidence for the crimes of which he tells and which his interlocutors do not want to believe. [9]

From the perspective of the former prisoner, Lánik describes the number as a means of identification: on the one hand, the prisoner is recorded and categorized as an inventory for the documents of the camp management and, on the other hand, it also influences the prisoners' self-image. It is visible evidence of the crimes committed by the National Socialists. These were committed against a pseudoscientific background:

"Hitler's" Mein Kampf "and Rosenberg's" Myth of the 20th Century "were the developed theory of dehumanization, the fantasy of everything-is-allowed for a brutally sober purpose. ... To do this, the peoples in East and West had to be labeled as “inferior”, “ineffective”, “bastadized” peoples “without state political ability”, that is, as slave peoples. ... All humanistic intellectual currents in the German past were condemned as "alien weakness" in order to justify the "Germanic right" to anti-humanism. ... Man is transformed into “folk substance” that can be turned into nothing with hunger, gas and fire, in order to have the conquered land in Europe as safe prey. ... cannibalism with the most modern technology, operated by morally degenerate Nazis who felt they were executors in the name of the German "master race" [...]. "[10]

Goebbels himself writes about the prisoners: “No discussion helps here, the concentration camps protect us from this danger”. [11]

The sociologist Wolfgang Sofsky describes in his work The Order of Terror: The Concentration Camp the power structures within the concentration camps. He writes about the genesis of Auschwitz-Birkenau:

“In June 1940 the first Polish prisoners were brought to the old barracks at Auschwitz. Auschwitz was initially only planned as a quarantine and transit camp for around 10,000 people, but by mid-1941 more than 17,000 numbers had already been issued. In March 1941, construction began on Birkenau, the largest camp complex with over 250 barracks, three kilometers away, where over 100,000 people were temporarily locked up. In the immediate vicinity, the SS also had the death factories built, which were put into operation in the first half of 1943. "[12]

He understands the prisoner number as a practice of destructive power over personal time. [13] The categorization of people associated with the prisoner number was also reflected, for example, in the marking of their clothing. [14]

Sofsky also describes the role of the concentration camp inspection, a control body to which many camps were subordinate and which, for example, regulated the labor deployment of prisoners:

“Here the genocide policy intersected with the labor deployment program. [...] Despite the labor shortage, genocide clearly had priority, even though it meant the loss of millions of Jewish workers. "[15]

He describes that the selection, i.e. not assigning or removing a number, meant death and the work usually led to it. So death should be inevitable, the tattoo only symbolized a delay in time - a world between life and death. Sofsky also goes into the bookkeeping, in which, for example, deaths - albeit incompletely - are recorded in SS statistics:

“However, they are also to be assessed as“ political statistics ”with which the local command posts wanted to show their sphere of influence in the most favorable light possible to the headquarters. [...] The accounting of death was an instrument for controlling death within the concentration camp system and a tactical piece of evidence in the hierarchy of instances. "[16]

This instrumentalization of death and thus of people who suffer death in order to beautify statistics is further evidence of the dehumanization of perpetrators and victims. Death and its preliminary stage, the tattoo, have been used to produce embellished statistics, the evaluation of which in turn conditioned death and its precursor, the number.

Low, old numbers and their owners had a special position:

“The old concentration officer with the low number enjoyed a very peculiar respect among inmates. He had survived the greatest dangers, had fought his way through, had seen innumerable dead. His most elementary achievement was being still alive. It wasn't just there, it was still there. "[17]

Sofsky also writes:

“By monopolizing knowledge, the old secured their special status and reduced the chances of survival of the new. It was not for nothing that the old prisoner with his habitus of intolerance and inner hardening, indifference, vigilance for many newcomers stood on the other side. They didn't interest him, he didn't want to belong to them. [...] In order to be part of the camp aristocracy, the old prisoner had to go through a process of internal colonization. He turned away from the outside world and directed all efforts to the presence of camp life. "[18]

Sofsky shows here the necessary change in the concept of time, especially for long-term prisoners. The time in the concentration camp is anchored only in the present and the only goal is survival, which leads to the collapse of the prisoners' human coexistence. This concept of time also has an impact on identity, since what has already been (such as a professional career or a family) had to be left behind in order to survive. The tattoo is part of an initiation rite that has a great influence on the perception of time and on the identity of subjects. It is a role transfer in which, however, no new role is assumed. In summary he writes:

“The dissotiative power of the camp power shatters the basic rules of social intercourse, the basic behavior in the continued existence of the social world, the supervision of help, the certainties of social action, the continuity of time. [...] The destruction of sociality corresponds to the negation of human self-relations. In the concentration camp, the social process of individualization is being reversed. The entrance ritual robs people of their biographical identity. "[19]

It should be added that the tattoo violates Jewish religious law, so its scope as an instrument of practice for the destruction of personal time and thus identity is still expanding.

All my generation knows nothing about the Holocaust.

For her article A tattoo to remember Journalist Jodi Rudoren met ten young descendants of Shoah survivors who had their prisoner numbers tattooed. Dana Doron shared the phenomenon Numbered 2010 also dedicated a short film.

"All my generation knows nothing about the Holocaust. You talk with people and they think it's like the Exodus from Egypt, ancient history. I decided to do it to remind my generation: I want to tell them my grandfather’s story and the Holocaust story. ”[20], said a granddaughter of a Shoa survivor. Rudoren goes into detail about the individual fates and writes that most of the survivors were initially shocked, but then happy about the decision of their children and grandchildren. Rudoren describes the motivation of all offspring as follows:

"The 10 tattooed descendants interviewed for this article echoed one another’s motivations: they wanted to be intimately, eternally bonded to their survivor-relative." [21]

She also emphasizes the important role of the Shoah for the State of Israel. She describes how a descendant had himself tattooed:

“It was done in 15 minutes, for about $ 40. When the tattoo artist, a Russian immigrant, joked that he is "not so patriotic" to do it at a discount, Mr. Diamant quietly seethed. "This is the reason he sits here, this tattoo and what this number represents. We got the country, because of these people. "Mr. Diamant said." [22]

The journalist Rico Grimm deals with the same topic in the article "KZ -nummer als Tattoo". However, he also includes an anthropologist who underlines the aspect of the Shoah as part of Israel's cultural heritage: "If you do not cultivate your memories and the memory of your grandparents now, their fate will pale." [23]

With regard to the fact that the tattoo for the descendants should also ostensibly show the connection to the relatives and not just the horrors of the Shoah and lessons from it, Grimm writes:

“The fact that she had his concentration camp number stabbed does not have to - as many Israeli psychologists suspect - have to do with a post-traumatic disorder from which the descendants of Holocaust survivors also suffer, in a mild form. "For them it can be a positive sign: resistance, survival and responsibility for the future," says Carol Kidron, the anthropologist who is herself the daughter of a Holocaust survivor. The tattooed arm of one's own parents and grandparents is not as taboo for the descendants as in other parts of society. In a sense, the Holocaust always sat at the dining table. "[24]

The suffragette and daughter of survivor Hannah Rosenthal describes precisely this removal of taboos and the gain of influence of the Shoah on the identity of children of survivors: “I grew up in a home where the Holocaust was at our dinner table every night. It was my every thought, in my DNA. "[25]

Another article, “Auschwitz Memorial: Tattooed Memorial”, by Alexandra Rojkov, also emphasizes the former taboo of the Shoah survivors outside their families. She explains:

“You could see the trauma in the survivors, but nobody wanted to hear them. [...] "People looked at those who had a number as if they were crazy," says Nachsohn. Many Israelis would cross the street when a Holocaust survivor approached them. Because sometimes they laughed for no reason, because their eyes were so empty. They were given the Hebrew name "avak enoschi". Human dust. "[26]

The survivor Lánik also describes his problems after Auschwitz as a feeling of "being outside of society". [27]

The psychologist Judith Hermann describes the overcoming of trauma for their survivors in three phases of healing: the establishment of security, the historical reconstruction of the trauma and the re-establishment of a connection between survivors and their outside world and society. [28]

At this point the thesis should be put forward that the grandchildren / children of the survivors - perhaps because they also suffer from forms of a post-traumatic disorder - try to experience this healing of trauma and society (in the form of confrontation through the sight of the post-traumatic Number). This means that the currently prevailing security (established security according to Herrmann) can reconstruct the trauma. This reconstruction by taking over the number from the grandchildren / children connects the survivors more strongly with the outside world again.

It can be said that the tattooed descendants are concerned with the memory of the Shoah and its significance for Israel as well as the emotional connection to their relatives. It should be emphasized that survivors and their descendants' understanding of the Shoah may differ from that of others. There is a change in meaning that can take place more quickly with them than in the rest of society.

The number represents not only the Holocaust, but the lessons to be learned from it and their grandparents.

The tattoo

In Germany, around 20 percent of men have tattoos, and 2–3 percent less for women. [29] Pascal Honisch describes common prejudices in his essay History and perception of the tattoo:

“If a tattooed man dies in freedom, he died a few years before he committed a murder” (Loos 1908). A view that found supporters well into the 20th century. Tattoos allegedly indicate a lower level of intelligence, an increased need for recognition, occasionally criminality or even “perverse sexual predispositions”, for example sadomasochistic or homosexual preferences (cf.Pfülb 1968), or their carriers were denounced as narcissistic-exhibitionistic occasional transvestites who suffered from strong feelings of guilt and inferiority complexes (see Ruhnke 1974). Although all these assumptions lack any scientific basis, for a long time they found support and confirmation in a European society [...]. "[30]

In the meantime, however, the tattoo is considered to be socially accepted. [31]

Oliver Bidlo writes in his work Tattoo. The enrollment of the otherthat tattoos, which he sees as the possession of nature by humans, next to the rock paintings, the first artistic expressions of humans, of the skin as a physical and psychological boundary to the outside world and thus its impression and expression surface as the only living being as a carrier medium uses, hears and has culturally dependent meanings and expressions of a ritual, religious and social nature. [32]

He emphasizes the status of the skin as an intermediate world and a carrier of culture: [33]

“The skin becomes an important mediator between inside and outside, between the self and the environment and vice versa. [...] External impact and self-esteem enter into a peculiar reciprocal game. […] Helmut Plessner sees his anthropological determination in this eccentric positionality of the human being. [...] The skin as the covering of the self and home of the tattoo is therefore something special in that it is cultivated by the tattoo. [...] The tattoo - like clothing - ensures the transition from the sensual to the meaning, from the body to the specific self, which tries to represent itself symbolically. "[34]

For example, Neanderthals already had tattoos, in the Middle Ages they showed that they belonged to the guild and class; by the crusaders who brought religious tattoos back to Europe, and the returnees of the expeditions of the colonial times spread their occurrence. In China, the tattoo is from around 1000 BC. It has been used as a punishment for indigenous peoples and is often part of an initiation rite. [35] Bidlo explains:

“The disposal of the other person's skin was and is always linked to domination and power. While the tattoo on the one hand was an expression of a final freedom, on the other hand it could be branding and stigmatization, as it was expressed in the concentration camp numbers of the Nazis that were tattooed on the prisoners. "[36]

Bidlo writes about the current situation of tattoos:

“In Western culture, the fashion for tattoos can be explained by individualization and the desire to transcend boundaries, while the increasing optization of human perception and the production of visual artifacts certainly play a major role. [...] Part of this process of aestheticization is the tendency to reshape the sensual, but also the awareness of the fundamental aesthetic hate of knowledge and truth. "[37]

Bidlo interprets the tattoo as a semiological sign and explains that the tattoo can be an expression of individuality on the one hand and, on the other hand, dissolves individuality through its fixed content and standardized form, since it "Lined up body and mind in a bureaucratic system of rule"[38]. [39] Bidlo describes the tattoo as a theatrical rather than an authentic sign. Authenticity cannot be achieved because of the question of authorship (e.g. owner of the tattoo, tattoo artist, choice of motif, etc.). Bidlo attests to the tattoo a performative character through its aesthetic eventuality. [40] Willems adds to the theatricality:

"The talk of the theatricalization of today's living environment aims [...] at processes of the staging of reality by individual and social groups, above all at processes of their self-staging." [41]

The staging of reality and the self show that tattoos are not authentic signs.

The author emphasizes at this point that in Europe - in contrast to the decorative character, e.g. in Japan - tattoos in particular were used as a branding of criminals. [42] Bidlo now assesses tattoos as a material expression of people's social identification patterns within society:

"It is the disciplinary inscriptions of order, clarity, unambiguity and security that the tattoo defends itself against by offering ambiguity and thus creating uncertainty." [43]

The author creates a connection to Vilém Flusser and his work “From the subject to the project” by writing that the tattoo is an attempt at self-development: “The tattoo in the late and postmodern era is an attempt to identify oneself make sure. "[44]

Bidlo describes the tattoo as a sign in a world in which no object has no meaning - also by quoting Cassirer and stating that humans only create themselves through the use of symbols. [45]

“The tattoo is a symbol, it is even more a myth in the sense of Roland Barthes‘. [...] The myth is a special system in that it is based on a chain that already existed before it. [...] Only the unmasking of a mode of representation as and the accompanying analysis of the myth reveal the (non-deterministic) connection of meaning and the explanatory potential of the representation. […] The tattoo, on the other hand, underlines its symbolism by emphasizing its symbolic and allegorical character. ”[46], says Bidlo. He also goes into the special temporality of the tattoo through its permanence and the place of its presence. [47] Bidlo relates this temporality to identity:

“The tattoo is the externalization of the personality of the wearer or at least part of it and is at the same time a constituent of a new identity construction. [...] Because identity is not only developed from within and then broadcast, but to a much greater extent from the outside of a person and inscribed. "[48]

However, he points out that the tattoo as an expression of identity only has a limited half-life, since identity can also change. [49] Isabelle Poncette introduces two types of body modifications related to identity:

“As a symbol or inscribed reminder for successfully coping with requirements, [...], body modifications signal a successful identity development. In the opposite case, however, they can also point to an attempt at symbolic self-completion, which is intended to cover up identity deficits perceived by the individual. "[50]

In addition to the character as a sign of identity, Bidlo emphasizes the dimension of pain and reception. In addition to permanence, he calls pain the second value of a tattoo. Here he refers to Nietzsche, who sees wisdom and the potential for heroic man in overcoming pain. [51] In Bordieu's sense, it can be valued as a form of symbolic capital. [52] Regarding the reception, the author writes that the tattoo is a dialogical sign because it encourages dialogue and discussion. [53] With regard to the image and imagery of the tattoo, Bidlo writes that its meaning cannot be clearly determined and: "The tattoo is an optical symbol and often an iconic symbol." [54]

The importance of the body for culture is emphasized by Bidlo as it is the medium of its representation; The human body is therefore not a pre-social and natural entity, but rather the human body itself has become a social product and, moreover, a cultural product that can be read from the various practices of body design, cosmetic surgery and other “body modifications”. [55] In this context, the author also talks about performativity:

“The tattoo contains the double face typical of performative practices: On the one hand, it evokes valid norms and rules or makes them visible, [...]. As a result, it can have a conserving and stabilizing effect - because it is reproductive for the prevailing order. On the other hand, the tattoo as a performative act - here wearing and showing in a physical and corporeal context - can also have the opposite effect, transformative and subversive, as performing performative acts always means the possibility of overriding the norms and rules in the act itself, to ironize it, to transcode it. [...] And the tattoo thus becomes a technology of the self in order to transform itself aesthetically. "[56]

However, the choice of motif is still within social and cultural boundaries, which also explains why most tattooed people cite the aspect of body decoration as the reason for their tattoo. [57]

In summary, it can be said that the tattoo is to be assessed as a performative and identity-creating cultural practice.

In connection with the investigation, it should be emphasized that the grandchildren / children want to lift the former taboo and ironize the concentration camp number. The performativity of the tattoo and thus its importance for the identity of the wearer is gaining in importance. The temporality of the Bidlo tattoo goes hand in hand with Sofsky's temporality, as both can describe the disintegration of identity in the case of the concentration camp number. If one refers again to Poncette, it should be noted that the grandchildren / children may have traumas and so the number can be seen as something missing, which according to Poncette would represent identity deficits. They can also stand for the mastering of requirements and thus a successful identity development.

Tattoos in Israel and Judaism

In Judaism it is forbidden to be tattooed (Leviticus, 19, 28): "Ye shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor imprint any marks upon you: I am the Lord." [58] There are also There is a prohibition of illustration (Exodus, 20, 5): “Thou shalt not make unto thee a graven image, nor any manner of likeness, of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; [...]. "[59]

Despite the ban, it is possible to be buried with a tattoo in a Jewish cemetery:

"While Jewish law prohibits permanent body art - because it was a pagan practice - it doesn't forbid Jews with tattoos from being buried in Jewish cemeteries. "It sounds like some Jewish parents told their kids to prevent them from getting a tattoo.", Said a source at the Chief Rabbinate who asked not to be named. "[60], so the journalist Yardena Schwartz, who in her article Tattoos rule in Israel - despite Jewish law and Holocaust taboo describes current developments regarding tattoos in Israel. In it she quotes the initiator of the first tattoo convention in Israel, Shay Daudi, who says that many people get tattoos because belief no longer plays a role for them or they can reconcile their belief with it. She also quotes the sociologist Oz Almog, who comes to the conclusion that tattoos in Israel now have a similar position in society as, for example, in European countries and only slightly less in percentage than in other countries. They reached this position a little later because society was more preoccupied with building the country than aesthetic discourse when tattoos started to become fashionable in other countries. In addition, the Shoah was initially associated with them, according to Almog, which led to rejection. [61] In conclusion, Schwartz comes to this conclusion:

"Yes, branding one’s body with permanent ink is one of the strongest forms of self-expression. But that may be even more true in Israel. [...] Yet as tattoos become more popular here, it's clear Israeli culture doesn't always mirror Jewish culture. "[62]

The turning away from the faith of many Jews after the Holocaust is also due to Auschwitz. “Their God died with the murder of their mother.” [63] is how Faina Kukliansky, chairman of the Lithuanian Central Council of Jews, describes her parents' feelings towards religion. Such a relationship to religion can also be passed on to children, which could explain the widespread secularity in Israel. The artist Aliza Olmert sums it up in an anecdote:

"Two elite paratroopers, one secular and one religious, are on the verge of collapse during a long, backbreaking exercise of running while carrying fellow soldiers on stretchers.

The secular soldier: "Tell me, where do you get the strenght to keep runing?"

The religious soldier: “From God in heaven. How about you? "

The secular soldier: "From Auschwitz." "[64]

Rabbi Chaim Zev Citron confirms through a field report regarding his community work the thesis that the Holocaust has turned many Jews from the religion. [65] Rabbi Benny Lau points out that since the Holocaust there has also been an understanding of the Jewish people without reference to religion. [66]

A statement by actress Alexis Fishman should be quoted as an example:

"When people question why Judaism is important to me despite my lax attitude toward religious obligations or ask why I want to marry a Jew and raise Jewish children, I play the" Auschwitz card "and effectively end the conversation." [67]

In summary, it can be said that tattoos for secular Israelis - in contrast to religious Jews - are justifiable and accepted in society as in other countries. At this point, the hybrid and transformative status of Judaism emerges on the one hand as a religion and on the other hand as a people, as well as the oscillation between Reform Judaism and Orthodoxy.

Influence of the Shoah on the identity of the victims

In the following, the concept of identity according to Baacke will be used, who understands it as changeable, i.e. dynamic. The identity can be broken down into the partial aspects of relationship performance, relativization performance and continuity. [68] The relationship performance describes the interaction with others, i.e. imitation, identification and comparison processes. The relativization performance describes the comparison with others, through which one's own abilities can be assessed and differences to others can be determined. Baacke describes the reconstruction of one's own life path with continuity, which makes it possible to experience oneself as an individual with specific thought patterns. [69]

The writer Leon de Winter, himself a descendant of Shoah survivors, describes in his dystopian novel The right to return, which deals with child abduction, possible DNA scanners that regulate entry into Israel and prevent terrorist attacks (only people with Jewish characteristics in the DNA are allowed access). [70] He illustrates the difficulty of the concept of identity by kidnapping Jewish children and training them to become Muslim terrorists. He also goes into, for example, the - real - discrimination against Jews from Arab states. [71] So he questions a homogeneous Jewish identity.

The author Dina Wardi first introduced the concept of the memorial candle as a synonym for children of Holocaust survivors in 1992. [72] In God, Faith and Identity from the Ashes. Reflections of Children and Grandchildren of Holocaust Survivors Descendants of survivors assessed the role in their lives of the fact that their grandparents / parents survived the Shoah.

"To be a member of the second generation is to exist in a rare space. Your very presence defies the odds. You were not supposed to be here at all. You serve as a stand-in for all those who were lost. ”[73], says didactician Elaine Culbertson. The feeling of being something special and therefore of being under enormous pressure because there is an excessive expectation on the part of the environment and of someone himself is described. The therapist Esther Perel describes similar feelings: "I'm not meant merely to be a small bacon. This made me feel special, but also very burdened, because now I saw that I had better accomplish big things in my life. "[74]

This self-image corresponds with the demand of survivors who contributed to the internalization of such an understanding in their descendants. Another example of this is the distinction between American Jews and Holocaust survivors made by government advisor Jeffrey S. Wiesenfeld. [75]

All three say things that can be ascribed to relationship performance and relativization performance. It is about the fact that such an expectation has been acquired through interaction with relatives (relationship performance). It should be added that one distinguishes oneself from others through such expectations, which can be ascribed to the performance of relativization.

“And those who are left of us will have to be strict judges.” [76], writes the survivor Lánik when he reports on a conversation with his fellow inmates. They talk about the question of how to deal with the Shoah in the future. The author Stephanie Butnick describes the influence of her origins in a family of Holocaust survivors as glasses through which she sees the world. [77] Tali Nates describes a similar attitude on her part and gives an anecdote:

"Holocaust scholar Michael Berenbaum tells of a veteran prisoner in the Sachsenhausen concentration camp who told new prisoners honestly and directly about the rules of the concentration camp, of the difficulties they would experience, of the horror that awaited them. His honest warning ended with these concluding words: “I have told you this story not to weaken you. But to strenghten you. Now it's up to you! "I always felt that in some way, as a second generation Holocaust survivor, these words were directed at me - that it is also up to me." [78]

In doing so, she also underlines how important the Shoah is for her and her daily life. Lánik, Butnik and Nates all underline the acquisition of specific thought patterns through the reconstruction of the path of life, with which they describe the part of identity that Baacke calls continuity.

"The Holocaust created an extremely low bar for Jewish unity: the Jew as a victim. [...] According to the 2013 Pew Study, almost seventy years after the end of the Second World War, close to three quarters of American Jews feel that remembering the Holocaust is an essential part of Jewish identity. This number is much larger than those who see attachment to jewish law and observance as a marker for Jewish identity. "[79]

The results of this study show the importance of the Shoah for Jewish identity and reveal that it is more important than Jewish law. This also explains the popularity of tattoos in Israel and the imitation of the prisoner number by descendants of survivors. On secular Jews in the Diaspora, the author Diana Wang explains:

"With religion no longer a common denominator among secular Diaspora Jews, identifying ourselves as heirs of the Holocaust is a tempting alternative. It was our worst suffering ever, and - in an absurd way - this low-hanging fruit is now subconsciously ready to be used to homogenize us into a common identity. "[80]

In an essay about his Jewish identity, Rabbi Dov Lipman also writes about problems within Jewish society due to prejudices against e.g. Sephardic Jews. He takes the following opinion: "During our most tragic era we saw ourselves as one people with one lot and also understood the inherent benefits of unifying together." [81]

At this point the thesis represented in the present work should be presented that the Shoah / experience of the victim role can be seen as the lowest common denominator of a homogeneous Jewish identity. Based on the experience of this lowest common denominator, it can be assumed that there is identification as a former victim at the level of relativization.

The author Eva Hoffman confirms this thesis when she writes of her answer to the question of Jewish identity:

"I found myself answering - although I didn’t know I would do so - that my sense of Jewishness began with mourning; and that this constitutes a powerful and deep bond with Jewishness. "[82]

"What unified so many children of survivors was the impulse to rescue - if not their parents, for whom rescue was far too late, then perhaps the world." [83], so the author Thane Rosenbaum. Like many other descendants of survivors, he emphasizes the importance of parents for his career choice. [84] The survivor Lánik describes his feelings towards those left behind during his escape: he writes of avenging them. [85] This feeling of revenge on the part of the survivors' generation can be seen as the root of the choice of profession, as many of the professions chosen (e.g. psychologist) have a preventive character. The historian Alexander Soros describes a feeling of guilt towards one's parents that goes hand in hand with this choice of profession, since one did not suffer as they did. [86] The complete identification with the parents on the level of the relationship performance thus fails, whereby a self-image in the role of the rescuer develops on the level of the relativization performance and the victim role can be abandoned. This self-image leads to certain career choices, which, according to Baacke, can be seen as a continuous aspect of an identity.

"Reported about Auschwitz, talked about it a lot, said everything [...]." [87], Lánik also had the communist say, for example, who helped him escape from the camp to a safe place. Children of survivors also seem to have internalized this principle. Richard Primus, a law and politics professor, talks about the creation of one of his books on the importance of trauma for political theories. He records his feelings during the creation process as follows: "One implicit lesson of that project was that the paradigm of the Holocaust will not last forever." [88]

This means that knowledge about the Holocaust will dwindle and it will be easier to abandon the role of victim. In this context, the sociologist Tali Zelkowicz emphasizes the importance of education for Jews, as it has to help them to leave the victim existence, but still to draw lessons from the past. [89] The director Jeanette Lerman-Neubauer describes the motivation of her parents in founding the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum as an appreciation and preservation of memory. However, they wanted to create across religious and interreligious boundaries:

"After the war, my parents were disinterested in Jewish divisiveness - the battle between factions and styles of observance. "To our enemies, we are all the same", they insisted. "Judaism has sustained us. If we are to be presecuted, at least know the value of your heritage. " (This was a non-negotiable command, not a gentle recommendation.) By heritage they meant all of Jewish culture - history, philosophy, literature, humor, food, music - not just religious practice. They knew that all of it had evolved radically over the centuries. They were more interested in enriching the future than arresting the past. "[90]

The emphasis on the importance of education and prevention also testifies to the continuous character of the Jewish identity in connection with the choice of profession and the concept of education. It is also emphasized that the victim role that was acquired through the relativization performance must be given up. By influencing the choice of profession, for example, it leads to the fact that it can be discarded, since the focus is not on the consideration of being a victim, but rather on prevention. According to Baacke, the relativization performance influences the continuity here.

Rabbi Kinneret Shiryon exemplifies the Jewish disagreement that Lerman-Neubauer's parents meant when she spoke about their community work:

"I bring to an Israeli-Jewish population that defines itself as secular the tools for them to take initiative for exploring their religious Jewish identity beyond their cultural and national identity." [91]

The lowest common denominator, which describes the Jewish identity as (former) assumption of the victim role, is understood here by Shyrion as a cultural / national and secular identity. She calls for the coming together through the shared experience of the victim role that led to immigration to Israel to be reversed in order to bring religious commonalities back to the fore; Accordingly, she argues that shared experience from the levels of relationship and relativization on the level of continuity should lead to a return to religion.

In summary, it can be said that the Jewish identity - especially of the descendants of Shoah survivors - is very much shaped by the Shoah.

On the one hand, the Shoah means for the relationship performance that one identifies oneself with the parents and their suffering / the role of victim. On the other hand, the Shoah means great expectations on the level of relativization. There are two different developments in continuity: on the one hand, there is a move towards preventive professions or those that serve to process and come to terms with the Shoah, and on the other hand, the Shoah can lead to a movement from the secular to the religious.

It should be noted that the Shoah and all of its preceding and subsequent persecutions / discrimination etc. forms a starting point for the Jewish identity and above all that of the Shoah survivors and their children and grandchildren.

In connection with the question overriding the work, it should also be noted that the feeling of guilt described by Soros, which he feels because he has not suffered, can be understood as a possible filling in of an identity deficit in the case of taking over the prisoner number of the grandchildren / children, if the imitators have a similar feeling.

De- / construction of the identity through the ordinal number

Sofsky describes the deconstruction of the identity of a concentration camp prisoner. He also goes into the importance of the rite of passage / initiation:

“Not only did he become different, he became another. The ritual not only hit him in terms of his social identity, it aims at the breakdown of personal and moral integrity and shattered the feeling of numerical identity, the feeling of still being one and the same. [...] The robbery of one's personal name is one of the most profound mutilations of the self. […] The number signified the transformation of the individual into a mass man, the transformation of personal society into a serial society of the nameless. [...] The bureaucratic act was at the same time a test of obedience, a first test of the transformation of the person into a willless object of power. "[92]

He describes the three phases of such a rite of passage as separation from the familiar environment, transformation into an ambivalent threshold state in which, for example, basic trust was destroyed, and integration into the new environment, in which, for example, uniform prisoner clothing was worn; Furthermore, he explains that it differs massively from civil rites of passage, since there is no role change, only a role transfer. A distinction must therefore be made between the initiation rites of indigenous peoples with the help of tattoos and the rite in the concentration camp. A permanent degradation to a "mode of existence at the abyss of human society" [93] takes place. Part of this abyss is mass society. [94]

“Yet anonymity as such is less of a torment than the simultaneity of physical density and social dissociation. The structure of the social world, the gradual order of near world, co-world and distant world, of you, we, you and you breaks when the other is directly present, but at the same time only an anonymous body. […] In the crowd there is no significant other, the mirror of the self. [...] Mass is not a neutral state, it tends towards mutual indifference and repulsion. "[95]

With regard to Baacke, this means that there is a deconstruction of identity. Since the community in the concentration camp is a mass society, there is no significant other, one cannot compare or identify oneself. Interaction with others is also disturbed. As a result, no relationship performance can be achieved. In the concentration camp there are also no opportunities to evaluate one's own abilities or to experience differences to others. The relativization performance also fails. The reconstruction of one's own path in life cannot take place either, since one's own name, for example, loses its importance, the family is wiped out or the like. No specific thought patterns can be developed as the only thought is survival. Because of the conditions prevailing in the concentration camp, identity cannot behave dynamically either. The identity according to Baacke is deconstructed.

At this point, two examples of attempts to construct identity through tattoos in novels relating to Judaism should be presented:

The writer Donna Tartt describes in her novel The goldfinch, which is about art theft, how someone gets a Star of David as a tattoo in order to pretend to be a Jew so that he can get a certain job. [96] In his novel The right to return Leon de Winter describes how the main character in Israel is attacked by a Mizrachi, an Arab Jew who has a tattoo with a Star of David in order not to be mistaken for an Arab. [97] Both examples show the attempt to be recognized as a “Jew” through a tattoo.

In the case of imitation of the concentration camp number, it is an attempt to construct identity. Imitation, identification and comparison processes take place because, on the one hand, the number of the relatives is taken over; on the other hand, the children and grandchildren identify with the relatives and perceive themselves as different from people whose ancestors were not in the concentration camp. A relationship and relativization achievement therefore takes place. In this way, they also evaluate their abilities (e.g. tendency to take up a violence prevention profession) and evaluate their experiences through their (grand) parents as completely different from the experiences of others. The suffering in the concentration camp - even if they have not been there themselves - plays a major role in their lives. The very fact that there are descendants of survivors despite the Shoah is an important part of their lives, which also leads to specific thought patterns. The tattoo symbolizes the identity construction described for the imitators.

Bidlo also describes the role of the tattoo artist who makes the creation of the tattoo possible in the first place and who brings his own expression through his being an artist. [98] With regard to the concentration camp tattoo, this means that it is related to role enrollment, as it made you recognizable as a concentration camp prisoner forever. With regard to the imitators of the tattoo, it can be said that they want to criticize and discuss the power and domination relationships that went along with the former tattoo, as well as the role inscriptions made such as "victims". The tattoo here is the dialogical sign that Bidlo describes what wants to interact with others (e.g. reception).

As a "symbol or inscribed reminder for successfully coping with requirements, [...], body modifications signal a successful identity development." [99], says Poncette; in this context it means wanting to successfully master the legacy of the grandparents / parents.

In order to shed more light on the possibilities of deconstructing and constructing identity through tattoos, Panofsky's iconographic method will be presented. It is considered to be a bridge between art history and the humanities, especially history, as it emphasizes the historical dimension of works. Panofsky's method is divided into the pre-iconographic phase, which corresponds to a pure form analysis, an iconographic analysis, which incorporates background knowledge, and an iconological interpretation, which tries to do the following:

"To reveal basic attitudes of a nation, an epoch, a class, a religious or philosophical conviction, modified by a personality and condensed into a single work." [100]

The pre-iconographic phase is the same for the original concentration camp number and its imitation. It is a combination of numbers tattooed on the left forearm / collarbone of a person. The iconographic analysis differs from this: on the one hand, it is a question of identifying a convict, on the other hand, it is a remembrance - in the broadest sense - of (grand) parents. The iconological interpretation is also different. On the one hand it is a question of the degradation and dehumanization carried out by National Socialism and on the other hand it is an invitation to come to terms with this past. The two iconological interpretations also describe the deconstruction and construction of identity through the concentration camp number, as it reflects the steps in the de- / construction of identity.

The importance of imitating the concentration camp number can also be seen in connection with the importance of tattoos among indigenous peoples: They also serve to convey knowledge, e.g.Narratives continue and function as a knowledge and cultural system. [101] The imitators of the grand- / parental prisoner numbers want to pass on the knowledge about the Shoah as cultural heritage with the tattoo.

This transfer of knowledge is to be seen in connection with the Modern Primitives movement, which construct identity through tribal practices such as tattoos and thus want to counteract the postmodern hypothesis of the "disappearance" of the body: the object of the body should become a subject again through individualization . [102]

For the phenomenon to be investigated, this means that the former prisoner is changing in the mass society in which everyone has had the number: He receives the special status of the survivor, which is also visualized and lived by the children.

There is another connection to gang tattoos - provided that the surviving concentration camp inmates and their children and grandchildren are to be viewed as gang in this context: “For many gangs, tattoos can also be a means of expressing a philosophy of life or certain collective values Be norms. ”[103] The imitators have the same desire to work against forgetting and stand up against discrimination and persecution.

In summary, it can be said that the concentration camp tattoo and its imitation can be assessed as an example of a deconstruction and construction possibility of identity through tattoos.

Identity in Anthropology

The anthropologist James Clifford is one of the representatives of ethnographic realism. He deals with the identity of people from indigenous peoples in times of a globalized world:

"Approaching the complex terrain of contemporary indigeneitity, I rely on three analytic terms: articulation, performance, and translation. They make up a portable toolkit for thinking nonreductively about social and cultural change. All are terms of process. "[104]

In terms of articulation, he introduces the distinction between dominant (“Western”) and passive (indigenous) knowledge, the organization of knowledge - a mixture of dominant and passive - leads to the articulation of identity. [105] He describes the term performance as follows: “Persons or groups are“ called ”or“ hailed ”to perform themselves as authentic cultural subjects. ... Cultural subjects "play themselves" for multiple audience [...]. "[106] With this he defines the implementation of the articulation. By “translation” Clifford means the passing on of cultural heritage, whereby not everything is passed on to future generations. [107]

If one applies the principle of ethnographic realism to the phenomenon to be examined, it becomes clear that the Shoah is understood as part of knowledge worth adopting (articulation); this is also expressed through behavior (tattooing), which takes place on the level of performance. This desire, inherent in articulation and performance, is to pass on knowledge about the Shoah, since dialogue and discussion is asked about what corresponds to Clifford's translation. If one considers that ethnographic realism deals with identity, then the Shoah is understood in this case as part of identity and it is constructed with its help.

Against the background that ethnographic realism is intended for the consideration of indigenous peoples and their identity formation, indigenous peoples must be compared with Shoah survivors.

Indigenous peoples and Shoa survivors are both confronted with worlds that no longer correspond to their origins. This means that the question of the transfer of cultural heritage arises in both cases; therefore, ethnographic realism is applicable here as well.

Relationship between Shoah and art

The curator Jean Bloch Rosensaft describes the relationship between the Shoah and art. She notes that the first art dealing with the Shoah was mainly established from 1970 by survivors of the second generation and later their children, since the first generation, if they expressed themselves artistically about the Shoah, could mostly not live from their art and other professional ones Had to take paths; she speaks of

"Transmission of intergenerational memory through powerful works. Their diversity of style, mediums, and subject matter - including family relations, spiritual quests, and search for communal and cultural roots - reflected the individuality, vitality, and complexity of their generation. [...] Faced with both the current abundance of scholarly research into the destruction of European Jewry and the ubiquitous exploitation, trivialization, commodification, and universalization of the Holocaust, I continue to seek out artists who embody Elie Wiesel's admonition about the difference between knowledge and understanding. "[108]

Bloch Rosensaft thus emphasizes the talent of those directly affected by the Shoah to be able to combine history and art, as they have had special experiences through it, which offer them special perspectives and thus artistic possibilities.

Bidlo attests to the tattoo "a performative character ... through its aesthetic eventuality" [109]. In some cases it can also be seen as performance art. The term performance in art can be understood as follows:

“In the narrower sense, it is used as a short form for everything that falls under the now very broad genre of Performance Art, with Judson Dance Theater, Body Art, Viennese Actionism, Action Theater, Fluxus, Happening, process-oriented art, performances with video-closed -Circuits, Action Teaching or Delegated Performances as their central historical phenomena between 1952 and the present. "[110]

Such a performance of Viennese actionism such as Valie Export (e.g. Body Sign Action, 1970) has been interpreted by Schneede:

"The artists around 1970 were less concerned with decorating the skin than with the hurtful branding that violently imprints a mark with the intention of classification." [111]

Goebbels recorded in his diaries why National Socialism was able to succeed in Germany. One of its reasons is "that 1. the broad masses are unmemorial, cannot think historically and, beyond their personal well-being, do not like to overlook the development of the nation." [112]

It is the concern of the tattoo imitators to counteract these characteristics of the masses through discussion and dialogue. With their tattoos, the descendants want to commemorate the Shoah, their individual family histories and the bond with their relatives. So for them it is not about the aspect of the body decoration in the tattoo, but about the invitation to come to terms with the Shoah and the memory of their ancestors. This means that they recontextualize the number and rob it of its old meaning, as they criticize dehumanization and the like and do not want to accept it.

If one thinks again of the tattoo, in this case the adoption of the prisoner number, as a dialogical symbol after Bidlo, it calls for an examination of the history and reflection of current conditions in order to counteract repetition.

In the case of the imitation of the concentration camp number of (grand) parents, it is also a bricolage according to Lévi-Strauss; his concept describes the taking up of an object that has already been used ideologically and its recontextualization.

So the imitation of the concentration camp tattoo can be seen as performance art as it has the same goals as performances of this kind from the past. The fact that Panofsky's iconographic method can be used also supports the thesis that the phenomenon can be related to art.

Art should be embedded in life as part of right action. [113] The imitated concentration camp number warns people to reflect on history and to act correctly, regardless of whether the examined tattoo is interpreted as an identity-creating practice or a performance or a violation of the religious law.

Summary of the investigation

The investigation has shed light on the possibilities of deconstructing and constructing identity through tattoos and also illustrated their possible interpretation as performance art.

The identity can be deconstructed by the concentration camp number, since the relationship and relativization performance cannot be provided by the lifeworld symbolized by the number - the concentration camp - and the possibility of establishing a continuum is not guaranteed. In addition, the identity cannot behave dynamically.

The construction of identity through the prisoner number takes place in that it has an identity-forming influence on the relationship and relativization performance caused by the Shoah, which is visualized by the imitation of the number. This visualization reconstructs the life path. The identity can behave dynamically, as e.g. aspects other than the Shoah can also influence the identity.

The interpretation of tattoos as performance art has shown that the imitated numbers - just like the tattoo-based performances of feminists from the 1970s - are directed against the degradation of certain people and seek to generate attention for this topic, whereby the historical dimension is emphasized got to. They try to work against forgetting and for the betterment of society in the underlying case of work.

Closing word

The controversy in the case of the imitated prisoner number has sparked another debate in the world - and especially in Israel - about how to deal adequately with history, in this case prisoner tattoos from dictatorships. The Shoah is not comparable to any other genocide because of the degree of mechanization of killing, which is why the debate was particularly heated: there was, for example, hostility towards the newly tattooed.

In view of the fact that there are projects in schools in Israel in which concentration camp numbers have been imitated with henna paint or adhesive tattoos, it can be assumed that this was a didactic means of the schools, which was about learning and To facilitate understanding.

The descendants of the Shoah survivors, who have adopted their numbers, only want to make this didactic tool accessible to a wider public than a single school class. However, it should be emphasized that such school projects are also criticized.

With regard to the interpretation of the adoption of the concentration camp numbers as performance art, the current discussion about the function of art should be briefly presented:

“It should tell us something, illustrate something, reveal something - about the consequences of globalization, about the conflict in Eastern Congo, about gender roles in Eastern Europe and so on. Alternatively, it can also "disturb" usefully and profitably. [...] Connections are illustrated with the help of works of art, research is carried out with them, they serve superordinate connections like words in sentences. "[114]

The imitation of the tattooed concentration camp inmate number has interpreted such a function as a performance, since it can be illuminated against historical, social-scientific, educational, anthropological, psychological, religious and art-historical backgrounds and it generates attention for its intrinsic themes.

Author: Judith Stölzer


[1] Lánik, Josef (1964): What Dante did not see. Berlin, Verlag der Nation, p. 32.

[2] Cf. Rudoren, Jodi (2012): A Tattoo to Remember. in: New York Times, 09/30/2012, pagewanted = all & r = 0, last accessed on 07/05/2015.

[3] See Lánik (1964), p. 55.

[4] See ibid., P. 65.

[5] See ibid., P. 232.

[6] Ibid., P. 140.

[7] Ibid., P. 155.

[8] Ibid., 290.

[9] Cf. Ibid., Pp. 247 and 287.

[10] Abusch, Alexander (1950): The wrong way of a nation. Berlin, Aufbau-Verlag, p. 239 ff.

[11] Fechner, Max Hg. (1946): How could it happen. Excerpts from the diaries and confessions of a war criminal. Berlin, JHW ​​Dietz Nachf. GmbH, p. 71.

[12] Sofsky, Wolfgang (2008): The order of terror: The concentration camp: Frankfurt am Main, S. Fischer Verlag, p. 50.

[13] See ibid., P. 98.

[14] Cf. ibid., P. 137 ff.

[15] Ibid., P. 53

[16] Ibid., P. 56 f.

[17] Ibid., P. 171

[18] Ibid., P. 172

[19] Ibid., P. 320 f.

[20] Translation by the author: “My entire generation knows nothing about the Holocaust. You talk to people and they think it's like leaving Egypt, ancient history. I have decided to remind my generation: I want to tell them the story of my grandfather and the story of the Holocaust. "; Rudors, (2012)

[21] Author's translation: "The 10 descendants interviewed for this article all have the same motivation: they wanted to be closely and eternally connected to their surviving relatives."; Ibid.

[22] Author's translation: “It took 15 minutes and cost $ 40. When the tattoo artist, a Russian immigrant, joked that he was "not so patriotic" to make it cheaper, Mr. Diamant sighed softly. “That's why he's sitting here, this tattoo, and what his number represents. We got the state because of these people, "said Mr. Diamant."; Ibid.

[23] Grimm, Rico (2013): Concentration camp number as a tattoo. in Frankfurter Rundschau, 02/03/2013,,1472596,21629506.html, last accessed on 07/12/2015.

[24] Ibid.

[25] Translation by the author: “I grew up in a house where the Holocaust was sitting at the dining table. He was in every one of my thoughts, my DNA. ”; Rosensaft, Menachem Z. Ed. (2015): God, Faith and Identity from the Ashes. Reflections of Children and Grandchildren of Holocaust Survivors. Woodstock, Jewish Lights Publishing, p. 291.

[26] Rojkov, Alexandra (2015): Auschwitz Memorial: Tattooed memorial. in: Die Zeit, 01/26/2015,, last accessed on 07/15/2015.

[27] Cf. Lánik (1964), p. 290.

[28] See Hermann, Judith (1992): Trauma and Recovery. New York, Basic Books, p. 159.

[29] Cf. Universität Leipzig (2009): Press release, dissemination of tattoos, piercing and body hair removal in Germany. Leipzig, press release, s & sa = U & ved = 0CBQQFjAAahUKEwjyxNWE15PGAhVBpCwKHf5dAB8 & usg = AFQjCNEXOokqNG-r2RbGzDKYh0w5sObNLg, last accessed on July 18, 2015.

[30] Honisch, Pascal: (2011) History and perception of the tattoo. In: I. Eberhard, M. Harfst, A. Lenzhofer, I. Poncette (eds.): Stitch: Points. Theory and Practice of Tattoos, Vienna, Hammock Tree Records, p.33.

[31] Cf. Lobstädt, Tobias (2005): Tattoos in Postmodernism. In: Breyvogel, Wilfried: An introduction to youth cultures. Veganism and tattoos. Wiesbaden, Vs Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften, p. 207.

[32] See Bidlo, Oliver (2010): Tattoo. The enrollment of the other. Essen, Oldib-Verlag, p. 18 ff.

[33] See ibid., P. 40.

[34] Ibid., P. 40 f.

[35] Cf. ibid., P. 23 ff

[36] Ibid., P. 24

[37] Ibid., P. 61 ff.

[38] Ibid., P. 24 f.

[39] Cf. ibid.

[40] Cf. ibid., P. 52 ff.

[41] Willems, Herbert (1998): Staging Society. Opladen, Westdeutscher Verlag, p. 10.

[42] Cf. Bidlo (2010), p. 25 f.

[43] Ibid., P. 27.

[44] Ibid., P. 28.

[45] Cf. ibid., P. 32 f.

[46] Ibid., P. 34 ff.

[47] See ibid., P. 41.

[48] ​​Ibid., P. 42.

[49] See ibid., P. 70.

[50] Poncette, Isabelle (2011): History and Perception of the Tattoo. In: I. Eberhard, M. Harfst, A. Lenzhofer, I. Poncette (eds.): Stitch: Points. Tattoo theory and practice. Vienna, Hammock Tree Records, page 54.

[51] Cf. Bidlo (2010), p. 50 f.

[52] Cf. Harfst, Michaela (2011): Tattoos in the Mara Salvatrucha. In: I. Eberhard, M. Harfst, A. Lenzhofer, I. Poncette (eds.): Stitch: Points. Tattoo theory and practice. Vienna, Hammock Tree Records, p. 102.

[53] Cf. Bidlo (2010), p. 50 f.

[54] Ibid., P. 72 ff.

[55] Cf. ibid., P. 77 f.

[56] Ibid., P. 82.

[57] Cf. ibid., P. 62 f.

[58] Translation by the author: "You should not cut your flesh for the dead, nor mark yourselves: I am the Lord."; Kuperrard Ed. 2004: The Torah.London: Kuperard, p. 223.

[59] The author's translation: “You shall not make a carved image, or likeness of any kind, of anything that is in heaven above, or in the earth below, or in water under the earth; [...] "; Ibid. P. 146

[60] Author's translation: […] While Jewish law forbids permanent body art - because it was a pagan practice - it does not forbid Jews to be burying tattoos in Jewish cemeteries. "It sounds like Jewish parents are telling their children this to keep their children from getting tattoos," said a source from the chief rabbinate who does not want to be named. "; Schwartz, Yardena (2014): Tattoos rule in Israel - despite Jewish law and Holocaust taboo. in: Haaretz, February 17, 2014,, last accessed on July 9, 2015.

[61] Cf. ibid.

[62] Author's translation: “Yes, adorning a body with permanent body art is one of the most powerful forms of personality display. But that may be even truer in Israel. […] Well, when tattos become even more popular, it is clear that Israeli culture does not always correspond to the Jewish one. "; Ibid.

[63] Translation by the author: “Your God died with the murder of your mother.”; Rosensaft (2015), p. 176

[64] Translation by the author: “Two elite paratroopers, one religious and one secular, are on the verge of circulatory collapse during a strenuous and difficult endurance exercise in which they have to take two comrades with them on a stretcher. The secular soldier: “Tell me, where do you get the strength to run from?” The religious soldier: “From God in heaven. And you? ”The secular soldier:“ From Auschwitz ”; Ibid., P. 28

[65] See ibid., P. 30.

[66] See ibid., P. 107.

[67] Translation by the author: “When people question why Judaism is important to me, despite my casual approach to religious obligations, or ask why I want to marry a Jew or raise Jewish children, I play the“ Auschwitz Card "and effectively end the conversation."; Ibid., P. 122.

[68] Cf. Baacke, Dieter (2007): Jugend und Jugendkulturen. Representation and interpretation. Weinheim / Munich, Bentz Juventa, p. 253 f.

[69] Cf. ibid.

[70] Cf. De Winter, Leon (2010): The right to return. Zurich, Diogenes Verlag, pp. 27/8, 73, 311 and 413 - 415.

[71] Cf. ibid., P. 65.

[72] See Wardi, Dina (1992): Memorial Candles: Children of the Holocaust. London / New York, Routledge.

[73] Author's translation: “To be part of the second generation means to exist in a narrow space. Your very existence defies the strangeness. You shouldn't have been there at all. You serve as a proxy for the lost. ”; Rosensaft (2015), p. 168.

[74] Author's translation: “I'm not just meant to be a small spot. That made me feel special, but it also made me feel very obliged, because I realized that I should achieve great things in my life. ”, Ibid., P. 184.

[75] See ibid., P. 273.

[76] Lánik (1964), p. 116.

[77] See Rosensaft (2015), p. 169.

[78] Translation by the author: “The Holocaust researcher Michael Berenbaum tells of an experienced prisoner of the concentration camp in Sachsenhausen, who told new prisoners directly and honestly about the rules and upcoming difficulties, as well as the horror that awaits them in the concentration camp. He concluded his honest warning with the words: “I did not tell you the story to weaken you. But to strengthen you. Now it's up to you! "I've always felt that these words were also addressed to me as a second generation Holocaust survivor - it's up to me now." ibid., p. 253.

[79] Author's translation: “The Holocaust set a very low bar for Jewish unity: The Jew as a victim. “A 2013 study by the Pew opinion research institute shows that ¾ of American Jews still see the memory of the Holocaust as an important part of Jewish identity 70 years after the end of World War II. This percentage is significantly higher than the number of those who see observance and compliance with Jewish law as an indicator of Jewish identity. "; ibid., p. 9.

[80] Translation by the author: “For Jews in the diaspora, for whom religion is no longer the common characteristic, it is a seductive alternative to identify ourselves as heirs of the Holocaust. It was our worst suffering ever and - in an absurd way - this low-hanging fruit is now unconsciously ready to be used to homogenize us into a common identity. "; ibid., p. 131.

[81] Author's translation: "During our most tragic times we saw ourselves as one people with one lot and have also understood the inherent merits of uniting." Rosensaft (2015), p. 18

[82] Translation by the author: “I found myself - although I did not think that I would do that - answering that my sense of being Jewish began with mourning; and that builds a strong and deep bond with being Jewish. ”; ibid., p. 83.

[83] Translation by the author: "What united so many children of survivors was the impulse to save - if not their parents, for whom it was far too late, then maybe the world"; ibid., p. 81.

[84] See ibid., P. 83.

[85] Cf. Lánik (1964), p. 59 and p. 152.

[86] See Rosensaft (2015), p. 120.

[87] Lánik (1964), p. 237

[88] Author's translation: "One of the lessons inherent in the project was that the paradigm of the Holocaust will not last forever." Rosensaft (2015), p. 134.

[89] Cf. ibid., P. 146 f.

[90] Author's translation: “After the war, my parents were not interested in Jewish disagreement - the struggle between interest groups and modes of practice. “We are all equal to our enemies,” they insisted, “Judaism has kept us. If we are persecuted, then at least know the value of your inheritance. ”(That was an order not to be disregarded, not a dear invitation.) By inheritance, they did not mean all of Jewish culture - history, philosophy, literature, humor, food, music - not religious practice only. They knew that all of it had changed radically over the centuries. They were more interested in enriching the future than in capturing the past. ”, Ibid., P. 195.

[91] Translation by the author: "I give a Jewish population that defines itself as secular the tools to discover their religious Jewish identity on their own initiative alongside their cultural and national identity.", Ibid., P. 289

[92] Sofsky (2008), p. 98 ff.

[93] Ibid., P. 99.

[94] Cf. ibid.

[95] Ibid., P. 181.

[96] Cf. Tartt, Donna (2013): Der Distelfink. Munich, Goldmann Verlag, p. 725.

[97] See De Winter (2010), p. 65.

[98] Cf. Bidlo (2010), p. 48 f.

[99] Poncette (2011), p. 54.

[100] Cf. Panofsky, Erwin (2006): Ikonographie und Ikonographie. Image interpretations according to the three-step model. Cologne, Du Mont, pp. 38 - 40.

[101] Cf. Bidlo (2010), p. 89.

[102] Cf. Pucher, Julia (2011): The tattoo as a means of constructing identity in postmodern society: the example of the modern primitives. In: I. Eberhard, M. Harfst, A. Lenzhofer, I. Poncette (eds.): Stitch: Points. Tattoo theory and practice. Vienna, Hammock Tree Records, p. 131.

[103] Harfst (2011), p. 83.

[104] Author's translation: “Reaching the realm of modern indigenousness, I rely on three analytical terms: articulation, expression, and translation. They form a transportable tool to think about social and cultural change in a non-reducing way. All terms are processual. ”, Clifford, James (2013): Returns. Becoming Indigenous in the Twenty-First Century. Cambridge / London, Harvard University Press, p. 45.

[105] Cf. ibid., P. 46 f.

[106] Translation by the author: “People or groups should express themselves as authentic cultural subjects. [...] Cultural subjects "play themselves" for different viewers ", ibid. P. 47.

[107] See ibid., P. 48.

[108] Translation by the author: “Transmission of intergenerational memory through great works. Their diversity in style, media, topic - including family relationships, spiritual questions and the search for social and cultural roots - reflects the individuality, liveliness and complexity of their generation. In view of the abundance of scientific research into the destruction of European Jewry and the exploitation, trivialization, transformation and universalization of the Holocaust, I continue to seek out artists who express Elie Wiesel's admonition to distinguish between knowledge and understanding. "; Rosensaft (2015), p. 223 ff.

[109] Bidlo (2010), p. 58.

[110] Dörstel, Wilfried (2014): Definition of performance for the Bonner Kunstverein, online publication,, last accessed on July 4th, 2015

[111] Schneede, Marina (2002): With skin and hair: the body in contemporary art. Cologne, DuMont, p.59.