Page last updated at 03:43 GMT, Saturday, 5 July 2008 04:43 UK

Holocaust survivor's story told

A Warwickshire artist has created an unusual exhibition inspired by tape recordings made by her Hungarian father about his experiences in a Nazi concentration camp during World War II.

Julie de Bastion
Julie de Bastion said creating the exhibition was "cathartic"

Julie de Bastion has opened up her Henley-in-Arden home as part of Warwickshire Arts Week which runs from 5 to 20 July.

Her exhibition includes drawings, paintings, family photographs and letters which are insight into Stephen de Bastion's incredible tale of survival and his family's subsequent memories and experiences.

Ms de Bastion said she "finally got courage to sit down and listen" to the tapes which were recorded by her father shortly before his death 19 years ago.

She said: "This has become a tribute to my father, my family and all that went before. And to their broken lives really. And also to myself.

"This is really a way to take some of these very traumatic, difficult things and to transform them out of pain and woundedness into something which is to do with love and forgiveness."

'Bodies piled up'

Mr de Bastion, a talented pianist from Hungary, was among thousands of Jews held in the Mauthausen concentration camp in Austria. He was also a prisoner in the forced labour camps of Siberia.

The tapes were recorded by his great niece who had intended writing about his experiences.

In one of the tapes he can be heard saying: "There was just the bodies, the dead bodies were just piled up.

Photos of Julie and Stephen de Bastion
Family photos are included in the exhibits

"There was no, absolutely no hope to stay alive."

The harrowing tapes reveal how Mr Bastion escaped with a group of other prisoners while carrying out hard labour in Siberia.

He spent weeks on the road, with no belongings and suffering from dysentery, Ms de Bastion said.

Mr de Bastion and his wife emigrated to Stratford-upon-Avon in 1947.

His daughter said their wartime experiences made them very protective of her and her brother and were a backdrop to their lives.

She said her father did talk about his past, but the tapes provided a "sequential flow that had not been there before".

"As well as talking about the horrible traumas and suffering, he also spoke of his artistic family and of a being a pianist and presented a picture of grandeur and wealth - so it was all jumbled together before."

Ms de Bastion said she had wanted to do an art work based on her father and family since visiting the former East Germany in the early 1980s.

Photos at the exhibition
Ms de Bastion may have her father's music playing at the exhibition

Some of her drawings inspired by her visit are now in a museum in Berlin.

But now a combination of things, including finding her own baby clothes and listening to the tapes, had made her decide on this exhibition.

She said children of Holocaust survivors can "carry the burden of unspeakable horrors" and feel "guilt and shame" as a result.

"I'm an artistic person and my art is my way of dealing and expressing things. Creating the exhibition was a cathartic act".

She said another aim of the exhibition was to show how people were all "walking stories" made up of a myriad of emotions, memories and experiences. She hopes it will inspire others to share their stories.

Arts week 2008 has been organised by the participating artists, with support from Warwickshire County Arts and Chiltern Railways.

It is showcasing the work of about 200 professional and amateur artists in more than 150 locations.


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