Eine kontaminierte Landschaft ist für mich eine Landschaft, die nach außen hin nichts Auffälliges aufweist, die aber etwas verbirgt. Plakativ gesprochen: Wenn ich beginne zu graben, kommt etwas zum Vorschein. Etwas wurde zugedeckt, das zu einem Teil der Landschaft wurde. Heute kann ich Landschaft kaum mehr unkontaminiert denken. Das ist nicht immer angenehm. Wo ich gehe und stehe, überlege ich oft: Hoffentlich verbirgt diese Landschaft nichts Schlimmes.

Martin Pollack

One day, during the regular cleanup work in the garden, Martin Pollack dug out a fork with an emblem of the Waffen-SS. Perhaps it was that moment he began to wonder what gruesome mysteries conceals a seemingly neutral landscape. Was the forest visible on the horizon seeded artificially to hide the crime scene? After drying a nearby drainage ditch, will the bones appear at the bottom? Such questions are not unreasonable when you live in Central Europe. Graves or monuments do not often appear at the places of mass murders. A lot of them is known by the local community only.

The Author claims about memory: social memory and memory of contaminated landscapes – silent witnesses and unwitting actors in the drama which had been played behind the curtain of a forest, a lake, a glen, a cave… From Slovenia to Latvia, from Austria to Russia Martin Pollack is tracking traces of past crimes and trying to figure out how to live today in areas that are camouflaged cemeteries.

“Contaminated landscapes” is an essay about the places of mass murder, carried out in secret, strictly confidential. Murders, after which traces were exterminated, hidden by planting trees, shrubs, flooding. The Author asks rhetorically several times: Do you know what hides the land where you live and which you cultivate? The place you are planting fruits and vegetables? Do you give the place of mass grave a wide berth or you simply don’t care?

Not only Central Europe can be treated as a great cemetery. We live on the remains of our ancestors and the remains of millions of animals and plants, which provide us energy for life. Many, like the Author, are shocked to discover mass murders and anonymous mass graves, but at the same time we tolerate utilization and killing of all non-human beings. Inconsistency, diplomatically speaking.

Dąbrówka Stępniewska







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