Sunday, February 05, 2023

Links to my books published on Amazon, including Rohingya Avtivists' Handbook.

Jewish survivor of Holocaust: "If I survive, I will paint."


Thank you.

We must all tell the story in our own ways.

In July I had exhibition of poetry and my B and W portraits incld of Zelensky.

Yesterday I drew 17 year old Spider killed in Sagaing.

Akhmatova was asked in line in prison if she could describe this--

she nodded.


aunty km

Dear All, A New York Times obituary of a Czech Jewish survivor  of 4 SS-run camps including Auschwitz.   Over the last 20 years since my  German friend took me on a visit to Dachau, the very first Nazi concentration camp on the outskirt of Munich, Bavaria, I have visited half dozen infamous camps in specifically Poland and Germany, including the most horrid place Auschwitz. The sight of chimneys, crematoriums, gas chambers, mass graves, as well as the victims' barracks get etched into one's memory.  The rage against the uncaring states ("state actors", so-called) -- God forbids that states adopt kindness and compassion, if you ask Mr Kissinger for wisdom of his statecraft! -- ,  and the acute pain of hearing from the museum guides the heart-wrenching tales of the SS victims' subhuman existence,  witnessing the physical conditions of their barracks and works , the sight of furnaces, electrified barbed wire fences, the sight of descendants of the perished victims and survivors in these vast killing fields in Germany and Poland are typical and recurring sensations I have felt every time I step into the compound of these museums.  This obituary resonates with me.    Every time I hear the word The Shoah or the Nazi genocide of the Jews I can't help but make a sad and rage-filled link between it and the present day Israel - the officially Jewish State with echoes of the ideology that served as the foundation of Nazi Germany.     It is, i am so painfully aware, that a highly morally  hazardous act to draw a comparison between Far Right Israel of 2023 which has as a matter of policy kept barely alive a few million Palestinians in the vast open prison called West Bank and Gaza, and the Nazi policies.   I have seen with my own eyes the triumphant display of Israeli flag by young Israeli visitors on a state-supported tour of Auschwitz (and other death camps) who wrap themselves in the flag while posing for selfies on the train tracks at the Death Entrance of Auschwitz.   I fail to understand via rationality why a population that has suffered so much systematic persecution  - and even attempted extermination - in both the Christiandom of the Old Europe    and the Enlightened Europe of Science and Renaissance have become so racist, so hateful, so vile and so inhuman towards the native population of Palestine - the Arabs of Palestine.    The rhetoric of "we have been here for 3,000 years" - often straight from the mouths of the Jewish Americans who emigrated from Brooklyn, New York is hardly any justification, intellectually or morally, for the heinous policies and acts of The Jewish State.    I stopped dialoguing with any Jewish friends of mine whose "Israel, Right or Wrong" stance forecloses any possibility of a meaningful dialogue over the subject.  Over the years,  I have lost quite a few friends and colleagues who assume that irrational attachment to something which is not exclusively theirs.     One day after the Soviets' liberation of Auschwitz - 27 Jan. - I found myself sitting in an airport cafe with two young Israeli women - in their mid-20's, my older daughter's age really - as we were all waiting for our flights to Bangkok on 2 different airlines.    They identified themselves as recently discharged IDF officers - one served for 4 years as a commander trainer and the other, an IDF spokesperson and news producer.  One identified herself as being on the Left, and the other , on the Right.  They were travelling together as friends.  I held my views of Israel to myself and I let them speak about their experiences, observations of their country's situation.    I enquired about the peace movement among Israelis.   The ex-spokeperson of IDF tensed up, and answered, "We live in peace.  IDF protects us", only to contradict herself in the course of the 30 minute conversation:  "they killed 7 people (Israeli) yesterday at a synagogue which was 2 minutes away from where I used to live)."   She went on to say that, "Israel has no partner for peace" among the Palestinians. She called Palestinians and their orhanizations "terrorists".    She insisted that Israel is "secular and modern".  And that all these international accusations of Israel being racist/apartheid or demolishing of homes of "terrorists" nothing but "smear".   The other ex-commander with her less fluent English chimed in occasionally, using her smart phone to translate her Hebrew expressions into English.   I asked if they were aware that Likud Party had terrorist origin and the founding father David Ben-Gurion would order his men to line up scores of original residents of Palestinian villages and mass-execute them - with the purpose of terrorising the Arab inhabitants from ever returning to their places of origin.   Of course, their indoctrination as Israeli or IDF officers did not correspond to or was not  based on verified historical facts.    One of the two had vacationed in my wretched racist land of Myanmar, and she raved about her beauty and loveliness of Burmese people, my people.   I interjected and said, "we call ourselves Buddhists and we perpetrated genocide against Muslim Rohingya."   But, alas, none of my words of facts registered with the one who spent 3 weeks in Myanmar.    She wanted to keep her traveller's memory of Myanmar as a "wonderful" tourist paradise.  The word genocide obviously did not mean anything to her - 1  day after the anniversary of Auschwitz liberation.    I was not disappointed by the complete Zombie-like character of our chance conversation.    I just felt despair and pain - that a people who sufferings have been so well-remembered, memorialized and commemorated and a state that has more than implicitly justified its really diabolical and violent nature of foundation have shown absolutely no humanity towards the sufferings of other fellow human populations.     David Reiff, the son of the late Susan Sontag and the famed  scholar of humanitarian industry, was actually right when he said, "Never again!" simply means never again shall the Jewish people be subject to genocide in Europe.  But this indifference to human suffering is not exclusive to Israel.    Much of Asia were sites of genocides, legally recognized or not.   Asians and Asia are doing no better      What a sad civilization!!      Have a good day!   Zarni p.s.  today is the  5th anniversary of my historian and educator mother's passing.   So, I am including a quick note of remembrance on the special day , for me.      

Fred Terna, Creator of Fiery Holocaust Paintings, Dies at 99

A prisoner at Auschwitz and three other camps, he dealt with his trauma in semiabstract art that depicted crematories, ovens and chimneys.

Fred Terna wearing a long blue smock with paint stains over a white shirt. His hands are behind him and he is looking at the camera. Behind him are several colorful paintings.
The artist Fred Terna in his Brooklyn studio in 2015. “How does one paint the near certainty of violent personal annihilation?” he once asked.Credit...Daniel Terna
Fred Terna wearing a long blue smock with paint stains over a white shirt. His hands are behind him and he is looking at the camera. Behind him are several colorful paintings.
Feb. 4, 2023

Fred Terna, an artist who tried to exorcise the psychological trauma of his imprisonment in four Nazi concentration and labor camps with semiabstract paintings that depict fire, ashes and chimneys, died on Dec. 8 in Brooklyn. He was 99.

His son, Daniel, confirmed the death, which was not widely reported.

Mr. Terna’s art became his Holocaust testimony. In acrylic works like “In the Likeness of Fire” and “An Echo of Cinders,” he painted in reds, yellows, oranges and blues to illustrate the flames that incinerated Jews in crematories. In some paintings, he used sand pebbles to represent ashes.

“I know how the fire of a crematorium chimney casts flickering light on a barrack wall,” he wrote in 1984 for the Berman Archive at Stanford University, which documents American Jewish communities. “How does one paint the near certainty of violent personal annihilation? How does one paint, and then make a viewer want to stop, to look at a canvas, to react to it?”

He added, “As there are fewer and fewer of us, I feel the increasing weight of the promise we made to each other in Auschwitz, in Dachau and in so many other places:

“If I survive, I will tell what it was like. I paint.”

A painting showing a long streak of red topped with outlines of circles, one of which is filled with more red paint.
Mr. Terna’s “Ascent in Fire” (2003). “I’d call his work representing the Holocaust beautiful even if the imagery is not beautiful,” one curator said.Credit...Fred Terna
A painting showing a long streak of red topped with outlines of circles, one of which is filled with more red paint.

“An Absence in the Fire” suggests an open door into an oven, in which a figure appears to be aflame. “Lasting Drift,” painted mostly in shades of black and blue, shows a chimney belching smoke, with small sticks in the foreground that represent bones.

“I’d call his work representing the Holocaust beautiful even if the imagery is not beautiful,” Suzy Snyder, a curator at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, to which Mr. Terna donated two dozen works, said in a video interview. In the same interview, Fred Wasserman, another curator, said, “I don’t think his work looks like anything else in our collection.”

Daniel Terna said that even when his father’s work was lighthearted, his paintings still evoked fire. “With greens and blues,” he said by phone, “the form of flames was still there.”

A painting with a deep bluish background and orange paint in the shape of flames, topping a dark rectangle, with geometric orange shapes at the bottom.
“In the Likeness of Fire” (1983).Credit...Fred Terna
A painting with a deep bluish background and orange paint in the shape of flames, topping a dark rectangle, with geometric orange shapes at the bottom.

Writing in Bomb magazine in 2016, the critic Stephen Westfall noted that one of Mr. Terna’s paintings depicts what looks like a white snow patch or pond surrounded by light brown earth. But, he wrote, “The image actually derives from a snow-covered pit of corpses.”

The anger that Mr. Terna felt at the war in Ukraine led him to create another flame-themed painting last year. “Putin’s moves just triggered that in him,” his son said.

Bedrich Arthur Taussig was born on Oct. 8, 1923, to a Czech family in Vienna. His father, Jochanan, known as Jan, worked in the maritime insurance business. His mother, Lona (Herzog) Taussig, was a homemaker.

Fred, his parents and his younger brother, Tommy, soon moved to Prague, where Fred’s mother died of pneumonia in 1932. With the threat of Nazism growing, Fred’s father changed the family name to Terna to sound less Jewish.

But the Ternas were not safe. After the German invasion of the Czech provinces of Bohemia and Moravia on March 15, 1939, Fred was expelled from high school in Prague because he was Jewish. His father sent him into hiding to a farm outside Prague, where he stayed until the fall of 1941.

But when the Gestapo learned he was there, he was sent to the Lipa labor camp in Prague; after two years, he was moved to Theresienstadt, also in Czechoslovakia, which was a ghetto as well as a transit, labor and concentration camp. His father and his girlfriend from Prague, Stella Horner, were also there.

A canvas of dark colors, with red at the top, blue in the center and black at the bottom. a faded rectangle is visible toward the left.
Mr. Terna’s “Lasting Drift” (2015) shows a chimney belching smoke.Credit...Fred Terna
A canvas of dark colors, with red at the top, blue in the center and black at the bottom. a faded rectangle is visible toward the left.

Although he was untrained, Mr. Terna began to draw at Theresienstadt and became part of a group of artists there who scrounged for good paper and any raw material they could turn into ink. He buried his sketches of everyday life there in a tin box under the barracks floor.

Before being deported to Auschwitz in September 1944, Mr. Terna gave his drawings of everyday events, like people lining up for soup, to another prisoner, believing he would never see them again. He had spent only two months in Auschwitz when he was deported to Kaufering, a subcamp of Dachau. After an unsuccessful escape attempt, he was liberated by American troops on April 27, 1945.

Sick and weighing only 70 pounds, he convalesced at a hospital, where he began painting scenes from Auschwitz, as well as landscapes.

“Much later, looking at my landscapes I noticed that there were walls and fences in many of them,” he was quoted as saying by the Defiant Requiem Foundation, which honors the prisoners of Theresienstadt. “It taught me that the memory of the Shoah was a part of me, and that it would not go away, and that I would have to live with it.”

His father died in Auschwitz, and his brother died in the Treblinka extermination camp.

After returning to Prague, Mr. Terna reunited with Stella Horner, his girlfriend. They married in 1946 and moved to Paris, where he studied art and worked as a bookkeeper for the Joint Distribution Committee, a Jewish relief agency. They left for Canada in 1951 and later moved to Manhattan. (They would divorce in 1975.)


Mr. Terna was not part of the Abstract Expressionist movement that had taken hold after the war, but he adapted it to his artistic vision, particularly in his use of sand and pebbles to create texture in his canvases. In addition to his Holocaust art, which he began in the 1980s, he painted circles as symbols of life’s continuity and representational pieces depicting angels and biblical stories like that of Abraham and Isaac.

Mr. Terna as a younger man wearing a suit and tie and lying in a grassy field while propping himself up on one elbow and looking at the camera.
Mr. Terna in 1946. He began to draw when he was a prisoner at Theresienstadt, and he buried his sketches in a tin box under the barracks floor.Credit...via Daniel Terna
Mr. Terna as a younger man wearing a suit and tie and lying in a grassy field while propping himself up on one elbow and looking at the camera.

He never became famous, but he made a living as an artist, with occasional freelance jobs like designing wallpaper. “He sold his paintings at frame shops, to people in the neighborhood, to therapists looking for paintings in their offices,” Daniel Terna said.

In addition to his son, Mr. Terna is survived by his wife, Rebecca Shiffman, a child of Holocaust survivors, with whom he lived in Brooklyn.

After he and Dr. Shiffman, the director of maternal fetal medicine at Woodhull Hospital in Brooklyn, married in 1982, they spent their honeymoon in Israel and visited a kibbutz that had a museum dedicated to the memory of victims of Theresienstadt.

Mr. Terna had been searching in libraries and archives for his drawings, which he had not signed because he did not want to be identified.

In 2017, in an email to a German researcher, he recalled his thoughts before visiting the museum: “If any of my work survived, it probably is ascribed to another artist. If that was the case, I would be satisfied. The record is more important than the originator.”

The record, at least a small part of it, had survived.

“The curator did not know specifically what was in storage, but allowed Fred and Rebecca to look through the boxes,” Julia Mayer wrote in “Painting Resilience: The Life and Art of Fred Terna” (2020). “In the middle of a file of unidentified art, they found six of Fred’s works.”

Richard Sandomir is an obituaries writer. He previously wrote about sports media and sports business. He is also the author of several books, including “The Pride of the Yankees: Lou Gehrig, Gary Cooper and the Making of a Classic.” @RichSandomir


Chin people of NW Burma sing--We are the world-- to draw attention to current atrocities by junta.

We are the world - ချင်းအဆိုတော်များ We Are The World Cover By CHINLUNG CHUAK ARTIST What a lovely song, performed by our Chin brothers and sisters all over the world. We'd like to thank ChinTube for bringing together the best singers to make this happen. CHINLUNG CHHUAK ARTIST: Atea PB (Boomarang) Benjamin Lianpi Benjamin Sum (Guys From Chin) Betty Mang Hlei Tial Biak Hlei Par David Lai (Guys From Chin) Emily Ngung Hlei Sung G'nie Henry Varte Honey Khuaitizu Jenevy Sui Lian Lian Liandingpuii P Thawngbawi (Guys From Chin) Rebecca Lallawmsangi Rema (To Coda) Sangtei Khuptong Shinbia Van Hlei Sung Vari Varte Yellow Muzik Zoramchhani Zorema Khiangte and To Coda Band Youtube link:

They also have a beautiful dance troupe, as do the Karen/Kayin people.



Chinese spy balloon shot down over Carolinas--

Saturday, February 04, 2023

Interview by Garfunkel + My Ph.D. dissertation + my Asian Survey article +

"I was just saying, among all those who came to work with us, you were the best and the brightest."

Thank you for that opportunity.  It was life-changing.

Dr Sein Win is the son of U Ba Win, brother of Bogyoke Aung San, (Daw Aung San Suu Kyi's father and founder of modern Burma.)

Both brothers were killed in the mass assassination just before Burma obtained Independence from Great Britain.

We should take time to remember their Sacrifice and try to make things better, no matter how grim things are today.

After all, we only have one life each, not nine as cats are supposed to have, maybe because they handle falls so well.

Kyi May Kaung (Ph.D.)



Just read everything by Ngugi Wa Thiong'o--Amazing--the writing as well as the life--

Also read, Alan Paton, Cry the Beloved Country.

Wole Soyinka --Nobel Laureate--Death and the King's Horseman.

I was so fortunate to see this play and meet Soyinka.



Links to my books published on Amazon, including Rohingya Avtivists' Handbook.