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Creator of global art project to honour 70,273 Nazi victims to visit Jersey

Creator of global art project to honour 70,273 Nazi victims to visit Jersey

Sunday 14 January 2018

Creator of global art project to honour 70,273 Nazi victims to visit Jersey


The American woman behind a worldwide project to honour disabled people who were murdered by the Nazis by sewing 70,273 blocks of white fabric with two red Xs, each remembering the life of one victim, will be visiting Jersey later this month.

Jeanne Hewell-Chambers will be travelling from Georgia to see the local exhibitions at the Jersey Museum and the 26 quilts made by Jersey residents.

Dozens of islanders got involved in the endeavour last year, in turn helping to produce over 1,000 pairs of red crosses.

70273 project quilt at Corbiere

Pictured: Islanders made 1,583 pair of crosses which were then made into 26 quilts.

Jeanne started the 70,273 project on Valentine's Day, which is also her birthday, two years ago after watching a documentary about the 70,273 people killed by the Nazis between January 1940 and August 1941, before the Holocaust began. The medical files of physically and mentally disabled people were evaluated by Nazi doctors, and if they were deemed “unfit” or an “economic burden on society”, the doctors would draw a red X at the bottom of a form. If two doctors made a red X on the page, the disabled person would be killed - most of them within the next two hours.

Jeanne decided to sew blocks, each consisting of 2 red crosses on a white background, representing the marks the doctors made on the files of the individuals sent to their deaths. She appealed to crafty hands around the world to help make 70,273 blocks, one block to commemorate each disabled person who lost their life, which would then collected into a quilt.

Speaking to Express last year, Jeanne said that her middle-aged sister-in-law, Nancy, who is mentally disabled, was at the top of the list of reasons of why she launched into the project. She said: "My heart cries at the thought of their vulnerability and voicelessness making them prey for those who are arrogant enough to find them unworthy of life. I can’t save the lives of the 70,273 people who were murdered, but I can preserve their memory."

Stitching 70273 Project

Pictured: All parishes got involved in the 70,273 project through regular sewing meet-ups. 

Thus the 70273 Project was born in a bid to commemorate, celebrate and educate. Jeanne said her hope was to "keep the quilts being exhibited in every corner of the world as far as the calendar can see to commemorate the 70,273 disabled people who died, celebrate the countless number of people with special needs who live among us today, and to educate all who will listen to prevent such an atrocity from ever happening again."

Local patchwork enthusiast and part-time quilter, Gisele Therezien heard of Jeanne's project through an online post and told her quilting group, Jersey Modern Quilt Guild, about it. Gisele's friend, Kim Monins, mentioned she had also heard about the project, and both vowed to get all parishes involved, in a similar vein to their collaboration on the Liberation Tapestry.

In total, islanders produced a total of 1,583 pairs of red crosses, making Kim and Gisela "proud to help put Jersey on the 'project map'." The two ladies made 26 quilts from the blocks.

70273 project quilts at museum

Pictured: The 26 quilts are on display inside the Link Gallery.

They are currently on display in Link Gallery at the Jersey Museum until 27 January 2018. 

 

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