AKUT Remembers With Two Portraits in Mannheim: “Lest We Forget”

“I felt uncomfortable while confronting myself with the reports about the incidents every person has experienced,” says AKUT in his blog about the research he did into the Holocaust for his new project here.

“It’s unbelievable how one can ever cope with it – and it’s completely unacceptable that there are right-wing populists still gaining more support worldwide. One would think that we have learned from history, but present events prove us wrong regularly.”

Falk Lehmann AKA AKUT. “Lest We Forget“. Stadt.Wand.Kunst. Mannheim, Germany. (photo courtesy of AKUT)

And here now we have two people whose photorealistic eyes we can look into. One is Horst Sommerfeld, a Polish national who lived in hiding in Berlin for two years before he and his whole family were caught and deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau. He was the only family member to live after being liberated by the US army in 1945.

Nonetheless, Mr. Sommerfeld reported, “I have always lived in fear,” before his death in 2019.

Falk Lehmann AKA AKUT. “Lest We Forget“. Stadt.Wand.Kunst. Mannheim, Germany. (photo courtesy of AKUT)

The other portrait is of Bella Shirin, a Lithuanian whose parents were survivors of the concentration camps of Dachau and Stutthof. While she is determined to live in the present, her own past is deeply impacted by her mother’s suicide in 1977 that occurred as a result of her experiences in the camps.

Falk Lehmann AKA AKUT. “Lest We Forget“. Stadt.Wand.Kunst. Mannheim, Germany. (photo courtesy of AKUT)

LEST WE FORGET is a multi-media project by the German-Italian photographer and filmmaker Luigi Toscano, who has met Holocaust survivors around the world including in the US, Germany, the Netherlands, Belarus, Ukraine, Israel and Russia since the early 2010s. This month a new mural by street artist/fine artist AKUT (Falk Lehmann) pays tribute to two persons directly and deeply affected by the events of the Holocaust.

Rising six stories in Mannheim, Germany, this is the 35th mural since 2013 as part of a program to convert underutilized walls into artworks, the first freely accessible museum for mural art in all of Baden-Württemberg.

Falk Lehmann AKA AKUT. “Lest We Forget“. Stadt.Wand.Kunst. Mannheim, Germany. (photo courtesy of AKUT)
Falk Lehmann AKA AKUT. “Lest We Forget“. Stadt.Wand.Kunst. Mannheim, Germany. (photo courtesy of AKUT)

“This expresses the different ways of dealing with their fates, which is certainly also directly connected to their respective personal stories,” says AKUT. “Horst was traumatized directly, whereas Bella has indirectly experienced trauma from her parents’ experiences.”

Falk Lehmann AKA AKUT. “Lest We Forget“. Stadt.Wand.Kunst. Mannheim, Germany. (photo courtesy of AKUT)