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In Germany – an Exhibition KAUNAS 1941

On the16th of November, 2021, an exhibition by the artist Rainer Viertlböck was opened at the Jewish Museum Munich to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the deportation of Munich Jews to Kaunas. On November 20th in 1941, almost a thousand of Jews were transported by train from Munich and shot to death in a massacre field near the Kaunas Ninth Fort on 25th of November, 1941, during the “Foreigners Action”.

In September 2021, R. Viertlböck, whose grandfather was one of the deported and killed Jews, worked at the Kaunas Ninth Fort Museum – photographed and filmed material for the upcoming exhibition. He expressed his sensitive experience in the photography installation “Kaunas 1941”.

“I only found out about him [the grandfather] shortly before my father died, because my grandmother had been persuaded, or she agreed, to indicate the paternity of my father as “unknown”. This might have saved my father‘s life in the Third Reich. Still, this was never discussed in our family, my father only talked about it shortly before he died. Accordingly, I had no emotional connection to my grandfather. I have to say, this changed dramatically when I arrived in Kaunas. So, I drove there completely, more or less, unconcerned, he was a stranger to me. But then I was emotionally carried away, I was not prepared for it.” – says the author of the exhibition R. Viertlböck.

The pictures rest on the old wooden railroad sleepers. These are from the so-called “Isartalbahn” from Munich. The last prisoner transports from the concentration camp Dachau rolled over these sleepers at the end of April 1945, thus closing the circle from the first deportations of German Jews to Kaunas to the last ones shortly before the surrender.

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Link to the exhibition:

https://juedisches-museum-muenchen.de/

https://juedisches-museum-muenchen.de/ausstellungen/kaunas-1941

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© Rainer Viertlböck