BUCHENWALD 96: Hypocrisy



Leni Riefenstahl, Hitler’s great photographer, is a terrible example of a hypocrite.  During the invasion of Poland,  Riefenstahl was in the town of Końskie while 30 citizens were being executed in revenge for an alleged revolt against German soldiers. According to her memoir, Riefenstahl tried to stop the execution but an angry German soldier threatened to shoot her on the spot. She claimed she did not know the victims were Jewish.     Her  picture shows the building next to which the Jews were shot to death

Part of the pain over my brother and sister’s effort to destroy my father’s heritage from Buchenwald is their hypocrisy.  

Hugh, my brother and the person who has taken adverse possession of the materials, threatens to let “them rot.”

That threat means he has kept the pictures now for three years.  He has refused to inventory the collection or tell me how or where  he is storing them.   Hugh has also refused to allow me or a qualified expert to see the collection  to determine if these very fragile objects are still intact.  Given his threats, I am afraid the collection may now be damaged irreparably.

Hugh, like the famous photographer who took the attached picture,  claims that his intent is noble.  He says he wants to donate the collection to Brandeis, his Alma mater.

Buchenwald survivors

These are some of the inmates who still survive.  Read the full series about Buchenwald on THE-Ave.US

Although the pictures are the property of the three of us, I was never consulted on this choice.   Worse,  when my wife (a Brandeis Alumna) and I met with the Brandeis curator and some of the faculty, they were not very enthusiastic about the gift.  Brandeis was  mainly interested because my Dad had attended medical school at Middlesex, a now defunct school whose campus later became Brandeis. The University is proud of this root and does some fund raising from Middlesex alums.  Brandeis told us that the University had no funds to devote to preservation or exhibition, but would agree to “seek a grant.”

Nonetheless, I went along to please Hugh.

Our  problem arose when Brandeis offered the three owners, my sibs and I, a contract.  Hugh and Stephanie, my sister, refused to sign the contract because  Brandeis would have placed the collection under open access and fair use.

“Open access” is the usual practice of public universities and museums that allows “fair use” … a policy that  includes publication, as long as the user attributes any use of the materials to Brandeis.

I offered to sign a version of the Brandeis contract rewritten by Hugh’s wife Janet.  (Janet Linn is  an intellectual property attorney.)  When I asked Attorney Linn to explain copyright law and the fair use doctrine so my siblings would know the law, my sister in law angrily refused claiming that I was asking her to act as an attorney without pay!

Stephanie and Hugh, then balked because the contract would have permitted me to make the collection available to the survivors, inmates and American soldiers who had liberated the camp along with our father.   Hugh and Steph’s objection?  That my effort would lead to a book that I intended to publish!  They called this a “commercial” activity.  Of course EVERY publication, including the three hundred or so journal articles and books I have written as a scientist is “commercial.”   Attorney Linn, of course, would never explain this to my brother and sister.

Meanwhile, Stephanie’s husband, William Quick, went so far as use his website to actually deny that my Dad had made the pictures despite the fact that each photo has my Dad’s personal notes on the back and the collection includes (or included) my father’s handwritten letter, written to me and my Mom, about how he had made the pictures.

So, our case is in now in court while the survivors die off and the pictures fade.




2 Comments Add Yours ↓

  1. theaveeditor #

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