Our work process started with us trying to understanding who exactly our character, Richard, is. What his position in the Nazi hierarchy was, what his political views were, what his relationship status was, and in general what he was like. Before writing a single word, we got to know him and what motivated him. It was important for us to have the correct historical context and thus we choose a meaningful date for this correspondence – June 5th, 1944 the day before D-Day, when the Allies invaded Normandy.
After visiting Auschwitz-Birkenau, which had a deep emotional impact on all of us, we had discussed the notion of the Holocaust profoundly. The concept that was hardest to face was the fact that Auschwitz was built by human beings – for human beings. Narratives about the Holocaust typically demonize Nazis, and make them seem inhuman. We thought that it is much easier to think of Nazis as pure evil, because demons are terrifying, while human beings are not. As we delved into this notion it became clear that this is precisely the idea people are afraid to face – the fact that Nazis were human beings, just like we are. In a way demonizing them gives them the benefit of the doubt and „lets them off the hook”.
This project came from a very personal place. As participants of the seminar we came from different places and have nationalities, one of us came from Germany and another from Israel. Both grow up with different narratives regarding the Holocaust and World War II. Yet, our two points of view correlated into one vision. At a later stage we added the Polish angle, which managed to enhance the presentation.