The series of films, “Spectre Of Memory” is my attempt to tell my mother’s story using the photographs and documents that have come to light in recent years. Growing up I had heard that my mother was the only known Jew living in Salzburg during World War II. Those days were barely discussed in our household. Busy in pursuit of my own life, I failed to ask my mother enough questions about her past. By the time I was curious, she was deep in the throes of early onset Alzheimer’s disease.
At a certain time in one’s life there is a call to examine the history that ties us to the past. The Polish poet Czeslaw Milosz once posited, “perhaps a memory older than our own lives, the memory of our forebears circulates through us with our blood.” Upon my mother’s passing, I started on the trail of unraveling my mother’s history.
After a 45 year absence, I returned to Austria to search the public archives and seek out the few remaining relatives living there. Using the archival materials I found in Austria, I pieced together what I could of her compelling story. Hitler invaded Austria on my mother’s 19th birthday. During the occupation my mother worked at a bank. Her boss, the president of the bank, happened to be well connected to the upper echelon of the Nazi Party. Through a letter writing campaign, he fought successfully to keep my mother out of the camps. My mother survived to meet my father, a medic with the American Army. They married and moved to America, the land of plenty. The archives include original photos, letters written to Rudolph Hess, and other members of the Nazi party, and correspondence from my imprisoned grandfather.
I made the original photographs from the family archives three dimensional, adding a layer of not only physical depth, but emotional depth as well. To bring the past back to life, I animated the images. These animations are part of the series “3-D Family Ghost Stories”.