In 1945, my Grandpa wrote a book called The Aftermath. It’s about two survivors — my grandfather and grandmother — trying to find each other after the Holocaust.
I’ve made a comic book from The Aftermath, as my Bar Mitzvah project. I started by drawing the moments that meant the most to me. Then I did some research and pretty much followed his story.
The book starts on the night of the liberation of Dachau. I drew Grandpa lying on a bed of boards. I drew the American army approaching and defeating the Nazis. In the days that followed many people die because they are given too much food too fast. But everyone is happy to be free.
When Grandpa first leaves the camp, he finds a field of lilacs. I drew him sitting there with an ant, a grasshopper, and a butterfly. He’s lost everything, but he is free. I drew this because it’s such an important moment. He has to decide if he will give up, if he’ll become bitter, or if he’ll rebuild his life. He chooses life.
Because Grandpa knows so many languages, he gets a job with the American army. I drew a picture of him walking to work on his first day. He’s skinny and his hair is really short. He’s holding a canteen with a piece of bread in it. That’s all he owns.
He knows that everyone in his family was killed, but there’s a small chance that Grandma is alive. Because he works for the army, he gets a car — a Fiat 6. He also gets a passport to travel throughout Europe to look for his wife.
As he describes his search in the book, Grandpa flashes back to life before the war and in the camps. In my comic book, I made the background of the flashbacks in sepia.
Before I was born, my parents made a film inspired by The Aftermath and now I’ve made a comic book. I think this is how we remember and how we create something positive from the terrible things that happened.