Friday, June 02, 2023

Last week, students from two Catholic schools, Our Lady of Grace and Our Lady of Mount Carmel, visited the Kaplen JCC on the Palisades to see a JCC production of “The Diary of Anne Frank.” During the visit, the students also got to view a Holocaust exhibit made by Idea School students. The exhibit presented information about Nazis prosecuted at Nuremberg, as well as resistors to the Nazi regime, and in this way explored how law was used to create or undermine justice.

In passing laws that discriminated against the Jews, such as the Nuremberg Laws, the Nazis showed that law can be twisted and used to oppress certain groups of people. Those laws also laid the foundation for the horrors and atrocities the Nazis later committed. Those who were courageous enough to resist the Nazi regime showed that sometimes the law must be defied in order to create justice, and finally by focusing on those Nazis who were tried at Nuremberg, the school’s exhibit showed that the world can take note and inspire individuals to act when egregious wrong is committed. When students presented the exhibit, they noted that the Nuremberg court ultimately metamorphosed into the International Criminal Court (the ICC), now at The Hague, and which most recently accused Russian president Vladimir Putin of war crimes.

Accompanying student-written short biographies of each of the Nazis and resistors were student- and teacher-created digital images of the figures as well. These images were overlaid with quotations that the Nazis and resistors said. The text and images were done in the style of American conceptual artist Barbara Kruger, who used her magazine background to create ad-like art of social protest. The font chosen for the exhibit, Futura, was created by a Bauhaus artist. Both the Bauhaus art movement, which originated in Germany, and the font, were condemned by the Nazis as “degenerate,” so using Futura was a poke in the Nazis’ eye. The exhibit is on view at the Kaplen JCC on the Palisades through the month of April.

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