Miha Colner: Confronting the death… again

Goran Bertok’s recent series of photographs is devoted to the protagonists who – either as victims of opposition and rebellion or as collateral damage of Third Reich’s demographic policy – experienced the horrors of Nazi concentration camps and survived; however, these places where human life is worth almost nothing have left indelible marks on their victims. The portraits of former inmates however don’t show explicit signs of violence visible on their bodies, these are instead ambivalent images of the elderly who have already stared into the eyes of death many years ago in front of the spectator. They are reminders of these tragic events for which the entire world has vowed they should never happen again. However, historical memory is indeed very short-lived. After 1945 the repressive apparatus – of both Western or Eastern powers – didn’t essentially soften; innumerable war prisoners and political dissidents were thus taken to forced labour camps in Siberia by Soviets while the American Army locked up and starved to death around one million Wehrmacht soldiers in improvised camps.

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