'Letters to Sala' Opens at Museum of Occupations
Letters to Sala, a guest-curated exhibition on the correspondence preserved by a young Holocaust survivor, opened at the Museum of Occupations in Tallinn on Tuesday.
Sala Garncarz was 16 when she was sent to a forced labor camp in Nazi-occupied Poland. She would be interned in seven camps over the five years that followed but managed to hold on to her correspondence, which became a lifeline for her.
During her years of captivity, she received about 100 letters from her sister and over 200 from other relatives and friends.
Jill Vexler, the curator, called the postcards "sort of a tweet. A postcard is the tiniest mail that existed in the 1940s. You had to say as much as you could in a tiny space with tiny handwriting with each word selected very carefully. These letters became life for her."
Sala kept the letters a secret until the early 1990s, when she was facing a life-threatening surgery.
"As an anthropologist, I wanted to put them not just into the context of the war but in the bigger context of Jewish life in southern Poland and what happened with the invasion of the Nazis. The story is told through Sala but it is representative of a much bigger war story," Vexler said.
Director of the Museum of Occupations Kadri Viires said: "What's noteworthy is that the letters, which are from that period and the specific conditions, are the best reflection of the emotional state. They are exciting period documents." She said she hoped to put similar collections kept by Estonian residents on exhibit in the near future as well.