ALL OF US ARE ALREADY GONE is the title of a photographic series,
published monthly during the past year (2013) on the international online
magazine Les Chroniques Purple. The series was initiated by editor Elein
Fleiss and realised by photographer Amit Berlowitz and myself. It unfolds
twelve contemporary individual stories of women who lived through the
Holocaust. The title is taken from the interview with Orna Birnbach (Blauner),
first portrait of the series.
PORTRAIT OF ORNA BIRNBACH (BLAUNER)
Les Chroniques Purple, 06 January 2013
I was born in 1928 in Wloclawek, Poland, an only child to a wealthy family.
When the war broke out the city was annexed to Germany. I was 11 years old at
the time. My parents were forced to sell their fur shop. Strangers came to our
apartment and took pictures off the walls, took the piano, my doll.
Together with many of our relatives we moved to Tarnow. On June 11th 1942,
during the Aktia*, I stood at the window to wave goodbye to my dearly loved
grandfather. I saw him standing, pale, his hands up above his head, and then
shot in the yard by a German SS man.
In Plashow my father became manager of the fur workshop. Courageously he
managed to save both my mother and me, and another fifteen women, but not
his sisters nor his nieces. Later on my mother and I were sent to Auschwitz. My
father couldn’t stand the separation from us. He thought we wouldn’t be able to
survive without him. He died in Mauthausen.
I live in a difficult world of difficult memories.
All of us are already gone. These days I go to a funeral every day. Telling my
story is my mission, it fulfills me. Perhaps that is the reason that I survived. I tell
my story at Massuah and at Yad Vashem; I have been to Poland over thirty times
with youth delegations. Nowadays I do things more slowly. But when people ask
me, I go even if I’m tired. It is so important.
When I’m in a good mood I meet my friends but we always talk about the
holocaust—at least when I’m around.
* Detention, gathering, and deportation action
— Photo by Amit Berlowitz / Interview by Hadas Yossifon