In 1944 when my grandmother Viera East (born Wetzlerova) was thirteen years of age she was transported, along with her parents and grandparents, from their home in Nitra, Slovakia, to the Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland. She was the only one to survive. She did not speak about her experience. However, she left us a letter detailing her experiences, which we received following her death in 2011. I was struck by one particular story from her time in Auschwitz. She told how two Hungarian girls who shared her sleeping platform and looked after her stole an apple. They wouldn’t tell my grandmother where they had stolen the apple from, but they shared it with her. They ate every part of the apple except the stalk. Afterwards, she continued to always eat apples this way.
This series does not attempt to speak for my grandmother or other survivors. Rather, it aims to use the perspective of Marianne Hirsch’s theory of post-memory, in which the impact of traumatic events resonates through succeeding generations. It is an attempt to document and express my emotional response to the realisation that I am a ‘3G’, a third generation Holocaust survivor and the impact of this on my sense of belonging, home and identity.