The Quiet Darkness of History Comes to Life in “Never Let It Rest!”

HOUSTON, TX (March 29, 2010) – Internationally renown German artist Hans Molzberger remembers growing up as small boy in the south of Germany after World War II. He also recalls that, when he asked about what occurred during the Holocaust, he was told to forget that history.


 Tunnel (Inside). Courtesy,
Hans Molzberger

But, Molzberger could not accept that, and now, more than 40 years later, his unique mixed-media art project “Never Let It Rest!” documents the lives and histories of the Jewish citizens of Salzwedel, Germany who died at the hands of the Nazis and of the concentration camp the Germans built there.

The exhibit formally opens for viewing at 9 a.m., Friday, April 16, 2010 in Holocaust Museum Houston’s Mincberg and Central Galleries at the Morgan Family Center, 5401 Caroline St., in Houston’s Museum District. The public is invited to a preview reception from 6 to 8 p.m., Thursday, April 15, 2010. Visit www.hmh.org/RegisterEvent.aspx to RSVP online. Admission is free.

The persecution and exploitation of the Jewish citizens of Salzwedel by the Nazis is well documented. Those who were lucky immigrated abroad; the less fortunate were deported to the concentration camps and murdered.

A concentration camp for women was erected in Salzwedel in 1944 as a satellite to the Hamburg-Neuengamme concentration camp. Up to 1,550 women, most of them Jews from Hungary, were imprisoned there. The women came from Auschwitz through Bergen-Belsen to Salzwedel. They were forced to work in the production of ammunition until the camp was finally liberated by the U.S. Army on April 14, 1945.

Molzberger is a self-taught artist who now teaches as an Artist Affiliate at Houston Baptist University. A unique installation in the exhibit combines a window from the synagogue in Salzwedel with glass artwork produced by master glass-blower and Houston-area Holocaust survivor Rubin Samelson, who is working with Molzberger and his HBU students to develop a piece of art in the exhibit.

Samelson was forced to work in a glass factory near the Polish ghetto of Piotrkow during World War II.  It was there that he learned to work with glass. He continues to work with glass today as a hobby.

Included in the exhibit, which continues through Oct. 3, 2010, are historical documentation of events of the time period and an art installation addressing the specific issues of persecution, war propaganda and concentration camps.

Molzberger was born in 1953 in Höhr-Grenzhausen in Germany’s Rhineland region, where his family has lived for many generations working in industrial ceramic factories.

Although not Jewish, Molzberger’s father’s family had played a part in the resistance movement, and his uncle had been imprisoned in a concentration camp in 1934. His mother’s family was not involved directly with the Nazis but did not actively oppose the Nazis either, he says.

After the war, “there was always no talking about it, there was a darkness about the history,” he said. “I had questions that never got answered.”

He later moved to a small town near Salzwedel in 1993 and began examining documentation from the region – letters, diaries and photos – and viewing interviews that students in Salzwedel had done with the detainees. When the Jenny Marx Museum created an historical exhibition about the Nazi period in Salzwedel in 1998, Molzberger opened his first art exhibit based on that research.

His current exhibition is an extension of that work and reflects his new interpretations since visiting Auschwitz and Israel. It includes pieces made from destroyed weapons, pieces of a German aircraft and pieces of a railway station tunnel that was bombed in 1945, killing 400 people. Other works are crafted from steel, ceramics and glass.

“This was unique in history. We will always remember what happened. They told me ‘let it rest,’ but we can never let it rest, we can never let it happen again,” he said.

Working mainly with assemblages and Raku ceramic objects, the artist recently turned to printmaking. He now creates woodcuts and large-scale silkscreens that contain political subject matter. Molzberger has worked in Israel, France, the Netherlands, Poland and Russia and lectured at several major universities. He currently divides his time between Germany and Houston. He is also director of an artist residency program in Hilmsen, Germany, that began in 1996.

Today, Molzberger maintains a home near Salzwedel and continues to be fascinated with its history.  The City of Salzwedel has commissioned Molzberger to create the town's own Holocaust memorial.

The exhibit is generously underwritten by Altmarkkreis Salzwedel; Bank of Texas; Benny and Donna Rains/AllTrans Port Services; Fotostudio Wunberger, Salzwedel; Hapag Lloyd; Houston Baptist University; Johann-Friedrich-Danneil-Museum, Salzwedel; Linbeck; M.G. Maher & Company, Inc.; Marathon Oil Corporation; Rickmers-Linie (America) Inc.; Stadt Salzwedel; Elizabeth and Alan Stein; and Unternehmerkreis Salzwedel; with thanks to Continental Airlines, official airline of Holocaust Museum Houston.

Holocaust Museum Houston is dedicated to educating people about the Holocaust, remembering the 6 million Jews and other innocent victims and honoring the survivors' legacy. Using the lessons of the Holocaust and other genocides, the Museum teaches the dangers of hatred, prejudice and apathy.

Holocaust Museum Houston’s Morgan Family Center is free and open to the public and is located in Houston’s Museum District at 5401 Caroline St., Houston, TX 77004. For more information about the Museum, call 713-942-8000 or visit www.hmh.org.

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