007~Gas...the answers were blowing in the wind
Updated: 5 days ago
When I visited the USA for the first time, at the age of 21, I had an icon I needed to see which, for me, symbolised The United States! Not the Statue of Liberty nor Mc Donalds, Dunkin' Doughnuts...nope! It was all about those movie scenes where there's a metal clicking chases, pulling down the ladder, or jumping into the great trash tank, running down those Fire Escape Stairs! Hollywood style! It was the first thing I looked out the cab for as we were driving down the streets of Boston. I know it sounds silly but hey...the Israeli parallel would be kissing airport tar road...upon landing, yes - that tar. So don't judge me too harshly. :D
So for me, Germany would be the Gas signs, only I was dreading to see them.
I DIDN'T want to see them.
I knew I would bump into one, at some point, and as much as I preferred not to make eye contact - well, since my eyes were in constant floor-height browsing mode- it was bound to happen, and it did. and once it did, it happened often. I took a sneak shot, a quick shutter release with my lomo pocket film camera, in a corner of a street, like a soldier in city guerrilla combat.
There was no denying my difficulty staring right into the evil sign, (just lie I experienced a weird intense problem boarding trains! wow!) ...and there was no denying I shot badly :-(
2008 My first encounter with the Gas sigh - shot with Lomo Film camera
Weird and very strange!
After returning to Israel, I started to organise some sketches, along with my developing thoughts erupting from my new discoveries. I started to read recommended books, such as "Modernity and The Holocaust" by Zigmont Bauman, which left me jaw-dropped. After that I dived into "The 7th Million" by Tom Segev, and was amazed that all this information was somewhat available, yet never known to me. During the time I read, my imagination wanders, and visual ideas begin to form. I plan them as little sketches, and take them with me on daily photo shoots. One of these plans was to reshoot a Gas plate on the floor, I've seen so many of.
In the city, most signs I found were completely concrete covered and I wanted to find one which would have some greenery, not too much and not too little. Maybe because I remember that the scattered ashes made great compost, for lovely plantation to grow from, or maybe to show that Gas didn't stop everything... Be it what ever - when I retuned in 2011 with a list of images to shoot, this particular shot was in my mind as I was walking around like a Gas Sign Hunter, or rather looked like I'm looking for a corner to release bladder pressure. Once I found the perfect sign in the perfect location this sign I was afraid to look at...had me staring right back at it for hours one afternoon and after a while, staring at it through the prism - It almost seemed like I can see a face looking back at me with a beauty spot just under his left eye, a shining silver nose and a sealed mouth.
THE GAS DUDE
I loved the result! it was crystal sharp, and all the fine detail were pleasant to my eye, and I felt I've reached my point of filled enxiety towards this icon and finally I can let this thought go. But that wasn't the only gas sign I saw....there was another one, which I didn't expect to see..
It was glued on so many walls, and I took a quick digital photo of it, in case it might have any extra light to poor on the oh so suffocating topic...
And that is how I heard about the T4 Project...
"The T4 programme stemmed from the Nazi Party policy of "racial hygiene", a belief that the German people needed to be cleansed of racial enemies, which included anyone confined to a mental health facility and people with simple physical disabilities." (wiki)
To cut to the chase I will just say that in this secret project, killing in Germany started months before the focused effort to annihilate the Jews, taking over their assets.
In fact, the model of killing Jews in a chilling industrial mass, was merely an enlarged capacity of a monstrous pipe-line model developed in one of the few "hospitals" scattered around different countries (I think especially 5 of them in Austria) which was in charge of killing disabled German citizens. I feel sick only re-writing these lines, again.
So here is a link to Wiki about this story: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aktion_T4#:~:text=The%20T4%20programme%20stemmed%20from,people%20with%20simple%20physical%20disabilities.
And just found this pretty comprehensive video doc on YouTube if you can stomach more- feel free to feel bad for yourself 🙏