The Freedom Last But One: Landscapes of Otto Dov Kulka
Otto Dov Kulka lives in two worlds: the external one and an internal one. For a long time, he kept the two worlds strictly separate from each other. Born in the ill-fated year of 1933, he devotes himself in his work life to Jewish historical studies. His research on secret National Socialist opinion analyses gives evidence for the first time of the comprehensive responsibility of the German population in the ostracizing and murder of the Jews. Kulka finds it crucial to emphasize that the focus in his research on Shoah is not a result of his personal involvement. “I arrived at that place coming from the depths of history, and not out of Auschwitz.” At the age of nine, he is taken forcibly along with his mother from a small Moravian town to Theresienstadt. One year later, in September 1943, they are deported to the concentration and death camp Auschwitz-Birkenau. There, they are placed in the so-called “Theresienstadt Family Camp”, which existed for nearly a year to mislead foreign observers. It is rudimentarily possible for prisoners there to maintain a cultural life. Self-organized education for the children and youth takes place. It is here, on this site in direct proximity to the gas chambers, that Kulka discovers his connection to music and literature. “Auschwitz made me a humanist”, he summarizes.