Gottfried Helnwein, Ninth November Night, Catalogue
Museum Ludwig Cologne
Whoever still had illusions after "Reichskristallnacht" as to what designs the National Socialists had on the Jewish people, failed to recognise the evil driving force which had manifested itself at that time. Everything objectionable and wicked, every evil characteristic, was projected upon the Jewish minority; it was then easy for the perpetrators to overcome the barrier which separated life and death for their victims. Not even the children were spared; they, too, fell victim to the destruction. It was Gottfried Helnwein's fantastic idea to present the consequences to this "period without mercy" in such an unconventional manner. He made no use of photos of heaped corpses; children's portraits force the observer to stop and consider this idea. The fury with which the neo-nazis reacted to these portraits is understandable inasmuch as it is the very same fury with which they have for years been fighting against The Diary of Anne Frank; the murder of children rouses abhorrence and conflict in every human, whether they are motivated by ideology or insanity. The urge to destroy has survived; the portraits bear witness to its rage - an attempt was made to cut them to shreds.
"People, please, stop,... look at these children's faces, multiply their number by a few hundred thousand. Only then will you realise or gain an inkling of the extent of this holocaust, of the greatest tragedy in human history!"
Museum Ludwig Cologne 17.9. - 30.11.88
Museé de l'Elysée Lausanne 22.6. - 30.8.90