The Hunger Letters

  • Joanna Tokarska-Bakir
Keywords: ghetto letters, starvation, emotional aspects, voices of the victims, Hunger Letters Project, intervention, ethnographic research

Abstract

After examining thousands of letters written between 1940 and 1944 by Polish Jews in ghettos on the verge of starvation, the author approached a visual artist to assist with processing the emotional aspect of the letters. The goal was to reflect the voices of their senders and addressees. Between October 2008 and spring 2010, two sample letters, reproduced from originals in the archive, were sent together with an explanatory letter to 3,000 randomly selected Varsovians. The Hunger Letters Project, the ‘letter in a bottle’, had repercussions that exceeded all expectations. Finally, the specific understanding of this public intervention is elaborated upon in the context of its ethnographic results.

Published
2019-08-02