FMD#36

Life size clay Fannie Mae Duncan

I’m continuing to add clay and build up the life size sculpture. The hat is still being developed and I keep the maquette nearby for reference. Below is a time lapse sequence of applying the clay:


The following book and information may seem out of place in the Fannie Mae Duncan Sculpture blog but bear with me while I share and explain this unexpected connection of a Holocaust Survivor to Fannie Mae Duncan.

Every March and April I become very introspective and somewhat consumed by thoughts of World War Two and the Holocaust. It happens like clockwork and I’m not sure why. Perhaps it is in the nature of the artist to delve into such things regularly in an attempt to understand and try to make sense of people and their actions - how we can be so cruel to one another…and yet, how we can also be so caring and courageous. Inevitably I am drawn to books about the war and people who experienced this great tragedy - to both honor them and to learn from them. Dr. Viktor Frankl’s book “Man’s Search for Meaning" has long been one that I re-read and study but this year I learned of another Jewish Survivor who came to America and eventually became a therapist to help others. And so I read “The Choice” by Dr. Edith Eva Eger. 

Now why do I mention this here? On this blog? 

Because of something Dr. Eger wrote on pages 271 and 272. You see, Dr Eger was one of the few still alive following the death march from Auschwitz. Starving, broken and no longer able to walk she and her sister were piled with the dead at Gunskirchen, Austria.

An American GI, part of the liberating force, noticed a little bit of movement and dug her out from among the dead. 

71st Infantry patch 440px-US_761st_Tank_Battalion_-_Black_Panther

That GI was African American.

While Dr. Eger remembers a uniform sleeve that had a patch with a red circle with a blue 71 inside it, it may be possible that the soldier she remembers was actually one of the original Black Panthers of the 761st Battalion*. During the last several weeks of the war, the 761st Tank Battalion, an African-American unit, was attached to the 71st Division and fought with it. This Battalion was also part of the liberation force for Gunskirchen. (*Note this is purely my speculation based upon my own research)


In 2010 Dr. Eger was invited to give an address at Camp Carson….where she was overwhelmed to see the insignia of the 71st Infantry Division. The insignia sparked her memory of that fateful day and she realized that her liberators were from that unit and from Camp Carson.


I don’t think that the books that I pick up to read are random choices. They are nods and nudges. My yearly melancholy and searching for meaning about this war led me to this book. 

It touches my heart to think that the some of the American liberators of Dr. Eger may very well have sat the soda fountain at Camp Carson before shipping out overseas - served an extra scoop of ice cream with a wide and welcoming smile by Fannie Mae Duncan, herself. 

Photo of the book "The Choice" by Dr. Edith Eva Ever

Holocaust survivor—tells her unforgettable story in this moving testament to the resilience of the human spirit and the power of choice in our lives.

At the age of sixteen, Edith Eger, a trained ballet dancer and gymnast, was sent to Auschwitz. Hours after her parents were sent to the gas chamber, the “Angel of Death,” Nazi officer Dr. Josef Mengele, forced Edie to dance for his amusement—and her survival. He rewarded her with a loaf of bread that she shared with her fellow prisoners—an act of generosity that would later save her life.


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