Skip to content

Holocaust Tarot Deck — Discuss

25 August, 2007

Holocaust Tarot Deck — Discuss

I’m strangely calmly preparing for Monday. I’m pretty much on top of what I’m doing next week, although I have to do some review and put together some PowerPoints of maps and suchlike — and write a couple of lecture outlines, but I feel very comfortable with knowing what’s going on. Easing into the Methods class was a good choice. I have a draft of LDW’s book to read and comment on, a postdoc app to write, a job app to start working on, and an article, a book proposal and a book review in the pipeline, plus a publisher in Germany to nag. So I may be a little in denial about how much I’ve got to do. I also have to start reviewing what I need to do for my T&P portfolio, because it’s due in a year.

So I have little of interest to talk about concerning the Middle Ages. Instead, via Gill Polack, I bring you a set of Tarot cards created in the Allach concentration camp. I honestly couldn’t look at all of them. They are strangely beautiful, though. Like Gill, I don’t know enough about Tarot to understand why the particular images might appear on particular cards. But they seemed the kinds of things that smart people like you all might want to talk about. Me, I find the different layers of horror and belief fascinating, but haven’t processed much farther than that. What do you think?

6 Comments leave one →
  1. 26 August, 2007 12:15 am

    That first sequence is particularly rough.I am puzzled by the identification of these as “tarot” cards. It may be that I’m too familiar with the post-war American versions of these, but they don’t have any of the images or themes which I’d expect from a tarot deck. I may well be missing something, but it seems wrong.What a great set of images to use with students, though: mindblowing potential.

  2. 26 August, 2007 5:57 pm

    I had the same reaction… they’re extraordinary images, but they’re not really tarot, at least in that the 21 trump cards don’t seem to be associated with the usual major arcana themes. I don’t know if there’s a hard and fast definition of what counts as tarot, though – now I’m curious!

  3. 1 September, 2007 10:10 am

    Agreed, there seems to be no connection with traditional Tarot cards, but the images are powerful in their own way. Have you ever read Charles Williams’s book, The greater trumps?

  4. 4 September, 2007 5:38 am

    They’re traditional Tarot cards, but not for mystic use. I was so overwhelemed by the images that I didn’t think of the obvious: they’re for playing a card game. Tarot started off as a card game and it’s still played as such in some places (I have a nice pack from France, for instance, with instructions on how to use it for gambling).I actaully find it harder to deal with the images if the pack was used for entertainment, but it makes sense of the structure of the pack etc.

  5. 15 September, 2007 3:36 pm

    Amazing art in card form. Thanks for the link.

  6. Andrew Barrett permalink
    12 March, 2021 6:34 pm

    Judging by most of the comments people seem to be unaware that tarot, various forms, are still played throughout Europe. Tarot is not just the preserve of those that use it for divination. If you Wiki French Tarot, Scarto or Strohmandeln you will see that there is a wealth of games tarot related. I’m guessing that this gentleman being from continental Europe was a tarot player and felt it cathartic to make his own deck which recorded the treatment he and others experienced. Maybe it gave him some control over his past? Maybe by relegating the experience to a deck of card he could lock it away or pay homage to those that didn’t make it to the end of the war… I think it both tragic and beautiful but also an ingenious way to keep history alive. If we forget our past we have a danger of repeating it…

your thoughts?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: