11 min



Directing: Artur Zmijewski


Zmijewski decided to persuade a former World War II concentration camp prisoner to "renew" his prisoner number, tattooed on the man's forearm. We see Zmijewski talking to Józef Tarnawa, a 92-year-old former prisoner of the concentration camp at Auschwitz, in a tattoo parlour. Tarnawa answers questions about life in the camp. He is still hesitant, unsure whether a "restored" number will still be authentic. Zmijewski: "When I undertook this film experiment with memory, I expected that under the effect of the tattooing, the "doors of memory" would open; that there would be an eruption of remembrance of that time, a stream of images or words describing the painful past. Yet that didn't happen. But another interesting thing happened. Asked whether, while in the camp, he had felt an impulse to revolt, to protest against the way he was treated, Tarnawa replied: "Protest? What do you mean, protest? Adapt - try and survive." In the memory of this former prisoner, the condition for survival, necessitated by the extremely oppressive and restrictive environment, was extreme conformity. The film was made for an exhibition at the Fritz Bauer Institut about 40 years of trials against Nazi war criminals in Frankfurt, but was eventually rejected.
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