In this article, Angela Jarman tells us about her 20th Century History Project “Forgotten Faces”. Students studied Germany´s Third Reich from a different perspective. This is the prologue of the book the students created with the biographies they wrote and the art exhibition of the sculptures of these people, whose memories they recovered.
Our project aimed to recover the stories of those who faced Germany’s Third Reich during the period 1933- 1945. We hoped to build empathy, understanding and hope for a harmonious future in a class of students that included 14 different nationalities and many different religions.
History is More than Names
By reconstructing the stories of the victims of the Holocaust, we have been able to realize several important facts. First, history is more than just names, events and dates. Second, an image is only as powerful as what we know about its context. Faces don’t tell us much until we know the stories behind them.
The contributors to this book have invested time getting to know the resistance fighters, witnesses and victims of the Holocaust profiled in these pages. Along the way, they have learned how many gaps exist in history – how much information has been lost. We found many Holocaust victims whose stories were hard to piece together, because all that was left was their name, birth date and sadly, their date of death.
Many of the “Forgotten Faces” we selected have in fact already been recovered by writers and researchers, yet they were still unknown to our class. Even Anne Frank, whose diary is obligatory reading for most school children, fell into the category of “forgotten” because when we asked “Can you tell me who is Anne Frank” to our prospective audience – fellow students at an international school – many hesitated before answering truthfully, “The name sounds familiar, but I can’t remember.”
For the makers of this book, these “Forgotten Faces” are not forgotten anymore. The process of discovering their stories, sketching and then sculpting their faces, all in the context of learning about the events that happened in their lifetimes, has been enriching. Art heals, in different ways for different people.
It also reassures us that as long as we take the time to learn the stories of others, we will be inspired by them, and we will keep their memory alive.
Angela Jarman and Florencia Figueroa
A 20th Century History Project by JR2, Tree of Life International School, 2022
Book Photos of Sculptures by Chih Cheng Chen Li and Book Design by Kirsten White
By Angela Jarman
Article Photographs by Leandro Natale