The memory of Fela
The following portrait of Eva Kuper’s mother Fela was taken in the mid-1930s. This photograph is a daily reminder of her mother, whom she was separated from at a very young age. Fela was killed in Treblinka (occupied Poland) in 1942. Eva received the photograph from her aunt, who had immigrated to America before the war. The frame, made by her daughter Felicia who was named after her grandmother, contains acorns and chestnuts collected at Treblinka in 2005. The frame and the photograph establish a touching commemorative link between the three generations.
Listen to the photograph's story
This is a photo of my mother taken in probably in the mid-30s, 1930s. It’s a photo that I have only
because her sister, my aunt Gertrud, had emigrated to America and through the war was living in New
York, and my father was sending pictures to my aunt. So, that’s how any photograph that I have – and
there are quite a few – date from, and really are a result of my aunt having preserved these pictures.
Otherwise, I have nothing. This picture is framed this way because in 2005 my daughter Felicia and I
went to Poland to retrace our family history, and one of the places that we visited that was probably
one of the most emotional was Treblinka, where my mother was murdered. I was saved by a hair’s
breadth from the same fate. And we walked through Treblinka, both of us crying and carrying memorial
candles that were decorated by the children of my other daughter here in Montreal who were very
young at the time, and we lit the candles and walked around. And my daughter Felicia is very artistic,
she picked up all kinds of things, among them these acorns and chestnuts on the grounds of Treblinka.
And when we came home, she put it together like this and sent it to me. And I have it on my dresser,
and I look at it every day, and I think of my mother, which I didn’t do very much of when I was younger. I
think I started to really pay attention to the memory when I had children and when my children started
to grow and when the same daughter, Felicia, who is named for my mother, urged me to deal with the
history and to deal with the effect that history had on our family: on me, on them, my children, and my
father, my stepmother, our whole family.