For Robert McKibben, it was Serge Klarsfeld’s book, French Children of the Holocaust. Klarsfeld’s book is a tribute to the children of World War II, more than 11,400 children, who were deported and sent to Auschwitz. Children who were lost to war, but remembered in photographs, letters, and documents.
When McKibben came across the book, “It moved me,” he said, “and I wanted to do something in response.” His response? More than 100 portraits of the children, each one juxtaposed with a number from the convoys that transported them from France to Germany.
Though McKibben admits it wasn’t an easy project, “It’s the work I am most proud of,” he says.
I discovered McKibben seated behind the counter at Carlson & Turner Books. We talked about books and art. A former teacher, McKibben is an artist and writer who as he says, has “a long engagement with reading—fiction, poetry, philosophy, and popular science.”
It was during our discussion that McKibben revealed his project. Leading me to a second-floor stairway, he waved one arm to the left and then to the right bringing my attention to the portraits that lined the walls. Hung side by side, stacked one above the other, the charcoal and chalk portraits, like Klarsfeld’s book, are a reminder. A reminder of the unaccountable tragedy of discrimination, hate, and fear. But they are also a reminder that compassion and courage exist—in our neighbors, our historians, our writers, and our artists.
Urging us to think, and to remember the children of France.