Drawings dedicated by Arnold and Anna Daghani to Erich Dubowy
These two letters – Click here for the German transcription! – and the drawings above were sent by Arnold and Anna Daghani to Erich Dubowy between June and September 1976. They are reproduced by special courtesy of Erich’s son Daniel Dubowy from Canada. Concerning the relationship between Arnold Daghani and Erich Dubowy, we learn from Daniel: “…they knew each other from Czernowitz, (they were of the same age) but surely from Bucharest. In the early fifties in Bucharest there were quite a few Czernowitzer artists who socialized and met regularly, and my father who was an architect but also a decent piano player, must have intermingled with them. […] They may not have been close friends but acquainted enough to be in some constant correspondence before and after.” Even more, one of the reasons these letters make compelling reading is their historical relevance, far beyond just personal considerations.
Arnold Daghani shines a light on his artistic self-conception as well as on his relationship to the Romanian post WW2 artist community, such as to the Czernowitzer poet Alfred Kittner, the Romanian art reviewer Eugen Schileru, the Armenian businessman and art collector Krikor H. Zambaccian, the diplomat and art critic Oscar Walter Cisek, who authored short stories, novels, poems and essays in both German and Romanian. In addition we discover at the bottom of these letters a catalogue of Daghani’s works, which apparently were still in his possession before finally emigrating to England and settling in Hove, near Brighton, one year later in 1977. Daghani died in 1985, a deeply frustrated man, and his work is now held at Centre for German-Jewish Studies at the University of Sussex.
Dr Deborah Schultz comes straight to the point stating in her article “Pictorial Narrative, History and Memory in the Work of Arnold Daghani” as follows: “His frustrations were intensified by the lack of public interest in the camps in Ukraine, with all the attention focused on better-known camps such as Auschwitz, and he strongly believed that his account had to be heard. For Daghani writing and image making may have been the means of locating himself and of finding his way.” You will better comprehend this by reading the first paragraph of Daghani’s second letter: “As an ‘homage’, I received from the public prosecutors the entire investigation procedure file, since, according to the chief prosecutor [Fritz Bauer], it’s solely due to me, that they gained knowledge of the atrocities committed on the other side of the Bug River.” But it’s finally G. H. Bennett, Associate Professor in History at the University of Plymouth, who – by his article “The Limits of West German Justice in the 1960s: The Post-War Investigation of Walter Gieseke” and his book “The Nazi, the Painter and the Forgotten Story of the SS Road” – is enlightening the historical dimension for us.
Well, the “Nazi” was Walter Gieseke, Oberstleutnant of the Gendarmerie and SS, the “Painter” was Arnold Daghani and the DG IV (Durchgangsstraße IV) was the “SS Road”, the road building project across the Ukraine which resulted in the murder of substantial numbers of Jewish forced labourers, among those many from Bukovina.
At my previous posting “The Stone Quarry on the Bug River at 8 Miles from N 48°40′ E 29°15′” you’ll find additional reports on the fate of the Jewish forced labourers including excerpts from Andrej Angrick’s article “Forced Labor along the ‘Straße der SS'” and Gerhard (Bobby) Schreiber’s memoirs “A Tale of Survival”. After getting numerous answers to our initial question, the final question concerns the moral condemnation and criminal conviction of the war criminals, but read by yourself G. H. Bennett’s conclusion:
“Gieseke was never brought to trial and Daghani would eventually conclude that the West German investigations into the crimes committed along DGIV were ‘merely a farce, a meaningless gesture’. […] The investigation of Walter Gieseke highlights the problems in the 1950s and 1960s of securing justice for crimes committed during the war. The processes of investigating and prosecuting of German war criminals in the context of West German justice in the 1950s and 1960s were not likely to result in a conviction. Gieseke’s defensive strategies maximized the problems facing investigators which resulted from the set of legal, political, social and investigative contexts that made a trial difficult and, in the eyes of many West Germans, unwanted and unwarranted. […] In the case of Walter Gieseke can be glimpsed many of thecomplexiti es that protected the guilty men and women of post-war Germany. Moreover, study of this case hopefully demonstrates the need to discount concerns about ‘practitioners’ trespassing onto the territory of historians. In studying post-war German justice, and indeed most aspects of legal history, there is ample scope for practitioners and historians to pool their skills and approaches to the mutual benefit of truly interdisciplinary scholarship.There is much to be learned from each other and little to be feared.
“SS film links officer with war crimes” by BBC
“Lost film unearthed in Devon church…” by Daily Mail
“Arnold Daghani. Who is he?” by Miha Ahronovitz
“The Art of Arnold Daghani” by The Art of Polemics
I succeeded to acquire a very rare book: The Suffering of the Deportees in Transnistria by Fabius Ornstein, edited by the Association of the Former Deportees to Transnistria immediately after WW2 still in 1945. On Fabius Ornstein’s life-saving activity in Transnistria we learn from the Jewish Telegraphic Agency report dated July 26, 1943 as follows:
“Thousands of Jews in Transnistria Have Not Seen Bread for Months, Hundreds Starving
Thousands of Jewish deportees confined in the various ghettos which the Rumanian occupation authorities have established in Transnistria, the Rumanian-administered section of the Russian Ukraine, have not seen any bread for months and the vast majority of them are threatened with starvation unless some assistance is forthcoming soon, according to private advices received here today. In the township of Copaigorod about 2,220 Jews are confined at present, the report discloses. Under the leadership of one of the deportees, Fabius Ornstein, the Jewish community has organized a free kitchen which has so far managed to distribute about 500 meals twice daily. These ‘meals,’ however, almost always consist of potatoes and nothing else. […]“
Marion Tauschwitz: “…following traces of Selma’s life I try to breathe as much Czernowitz atmosphere as possible. So yesterday I went to an interesting exhibition: Ansichten of Czernowitz. Young people have started to discover Czernowitz and to claim the town as their heritage: ancient views caught by young people who discover Czernowitz’ history and start being proud of what has been created in Czernowitz. The project started in spring and summer 2013 initiated by “Zentrum Gedankendach” by Oxana Matijchuk, the forum of architectures of Lübeck and the Oead Cooperation Centre of Lemberg. A Jury chose the 16 best motives and they were printed as postcards. The idea is to send the postcards to people all over the world and so transport the spirit of Czernowitz into the world. “Zentrum Gedankendach” and a local journalist documentated the opening exhibition and took interviews and they want to try to offer the film to a German TV station . They asked what I thought about the project – I told them that I am fascinated by the idea and that I think it is time for young people to start to cope with the history of their town. To discover the wealth of the culture that was created by Czernowitzers – especially by the Jewish population. to follow the tragic traces,too. These traces can be found all over the town. Each stones has its story, each “Kanaldeckel” can tell about history. Today I went along former Bischof Hackmen Gasse and discovered “Kanaldeckel” – from Vienna, Rumanian and Sowjet times – lined up in one row. Lined up history….”