Numbered: Auschwitz Tattoos


They are small tattoos, a letter ... a few numbers. But they are the unmistakable mark of Nazi evil, seared into the arms of Holocaust survivors from Auschwitz and Birkenau. Now, some children and grandchildren of Holocaust survivors are choosing to imprint those same numbers on their bodies in deference to, and memory of their beloved aging relatives. Some see this as a moving tribute .. Others are deeply distressed.

Numbered: Auschwitz Tattoos - Documentary & Panel

Livia Ravek bears a tattoo of four numbers on her arm, gouged into her teenage skin by the Nazis at Auschwitz. Those numbers have become a family legacy. Her son and grandson in Canada honour her suffering and survival... in a way some might find shocking.

The Current's producer Ellen Saenger spoke with the three members of the Ravek family. Her documentary is called 4-5-5-9. Marking the next generation.

For the the Ravek men it was a very personal choice, but it turns out they are not unique. Other children of Auschwitz survivors have chosen to tattoo their parent's number into their skin.

The phenomenon raises complicated questions about the appropriate way to memorialize the past when it risks re-victimizing or causing pain to the very people it's intended to honour. The dilemma makes this discussion part of our Line in The Sand project.

It's a phenomenon documented in a new Israeli film called Numbered. It premieres in Calgary on November 8th. Dana Doron is an Israeli doctor and one of the filmmakers. We reached her in Tel Aviv.

And Michael Marrus is a professor emeritus of Holocaust Studies at the University of Toronto.

Other segments from today's show:

Montreal's Mayor Resigns

U.S. Election & Masculinity