University of Minnesota
Center for Holocaust & Genocide Studies


Melissa Gould

Melissa Gould is a conceptual artist whose work centers on history, memory and loss in personal explorations of the past. For over a decade on of her major focuses has been on the Holocaust and World War II. She attended the Rhode Island School of Design in Providence, R.I. and Rome, Italy and has exhibited widely in Europe and the United States. To see more of Melissa Gould's work visit her conceptual website the MeGoPhone.

Artist Statement

"For me, a shadow, a skeleton, a fragment are more eloquent than the entire intact object."

At 8:55 on the morning of 6 November 1942 convoy number 42 left Drancy, France for the concentration camp Auschwitz in Poland. One thousand Jews were aboard, 221 of them children. My father's father, a Viennese Jew, was among the passengers. The journey took three days. Upon arrival 227 people were selected for work. The rest were gassed immediately, my grandfather included. At the war's end, four people from convey number 42 were known to have survived.

The thirty-six pictograms correspond to the names which are taken from the Drancy transport list. The pictures, which I gathered from pre-Fascist children's books, schoolbooks, and lexicons, offer an invitation to a fairy tale world, whose poetry is meant to process a cruel reality. These are not mere illustrations; they are associative symbols that contain the aspect of destruction.

Pinnochio burns his foot because he has fallen asleep. He supplies the image for "Bre(nn)holz" (firewood). The scientific illustrations likewise evoke an interpretation of deeper layers, which are also ciphers for the fatal exclusion of European Jews. The lamb word "Weiss" (white) is a sign of innocence. At the same time, its body has already been subdivided as meat.

My goal is not to set up merely a Holocaust memorial; rather, it focuses on the complex network of Jewish/German history, hoping thereby to stimulate a discussion of that history.

- Melissa Gould

Artworks: Absence/Presence

FROM ADLER TO ZYLBER literally, "from eagle to silver" is a series of conceptual memorial installations using original pictograms that are visual interpretations of GermanJewish names from an Auschwitz transport list.

The original document that inspired this project was the 1000 list of Convoy #42 (November 6, 1942, France Auschwitz), which I accidentally found in 1987 in The Memorial to the Deportation of the Jews from France by Serge Klarsfeld. Among the 1000 Jews from all over Europe on this particular train was my grandfather.

From the transport list of Convoy #42 I selected 100 German Jewish names, all with meanings derived from nature. Each name was represented by a "pictogram", pairing the name, written in Gothic Script, with a number and a different associative image. Each pictogram, photocopied onto white paper, measures 36" by 36" square. The images were taken from preWar sources of European popular culture lexicons, school and textbooks, fairytales, children's books and other printed ephemera. This combination of elements is contained by a black border (reminiscent of a death notice) and a thin outer edge of white.

The title FROM ADLER TO ZYLBER refers not only to the first and last names chosen from Transport List #42 but also describes the system with which the pictograms are arranged within a given space. They mimic the order of natureAdler (eagle) is hung high above, Zylber (silver) nearest the ground, and so on.

The Names

1.  ADLER eagle

51. LICHTENBAUM thinning tree

2.  BACH brook

52. MALTZ malt

3.  BAUM tree

53. MANDEL almond

4.  BERNSTEIN amber

54. MANDELBAUM almond tree

5.  BLUMEN flowers

55. MANDELSTAM almond tree stem

6.  BLUMENTHAL valley of flowers

56. MILSTEIN millstone

7.  BLUMZTEIN bloom stone

57. MOND  moon

8.  BREHOLZ firewood

58. MORGENSTERN morning star

9.  BREITENFELD wide field

59. REHFELD deer field

10. BUCHWALD beech forest

60. REIS rice

11. BUXBAUM box tree

61. ROSENBERG rose mountain

12. DIAMANT diamond

62. ROSENSCHEIN rose's glow

13. EIGEWALD oak forest

63. ROSENZWEIG rose twig

14. EISEN iron

64. ROTSZTEYN red stone

15. EISENBERG iron mountain

65. ROZENBLUM rose bloom

16. ENGEL angel

66. ROZENTAL valley of roses

17. FAINGOLDfine gold

67. SCHATZBERGER man from treasure mountain

18. FERNBACH distant brook

68. SCHONBACH beautiful brook

19. FEUER fire

69. SCHWALB swallow

20. FISCH fish

70. SCHWARTZ black

21. FISCHBACHfish brook

71. SILBERBERG silver mountain

22. FISCHBEIN whale bone

72. SILBERSTEIN silver stone

23. FRIEDBERG peace mountain

73. SILBERWASSER silver water

24. FROST frost

74. SPIEGEL mirror

25. FUCHS fox

75. SPRITZER sprinkler

26. GARTENBERG garden mountain

76. STEIGERWALD climber's forest

27. GEISHOLZ honeysuckle

77. STEIN stone

28. GELBTRUNCK yellow drink

78. STEINBERG stone mountain

29. GERSTZTENKORN barleycorn

79. STEINHAUS stone house

30. GOLD gold

80. STERNBERG star mountain

31. GOLDADLER gold eagle

81. STERNSCHUSSshooting star

32. GOLDBERG gold mountain

82. STRAUSBERG bouquet mountain

33. GOLDBLATT gold leaf

83. STRAUSZ ostrich

34. GOLDENBERG golden mountain

84. SUCHER sugar

35. GOLDSTEIN gold stone

85. SZAINHOLZ beautiful wood

36. GROEN green

86. TAUBER dove

37. GRUNFELD green field

87. TENENBAUM fir tree

38. HAAS hare

88. VAJNAPEL wine apple

39. HAZENBERG hare mountain

89. VOGEL bird

40. HIMELBLAU sky-blue

90. WALD forest

41. HIRSCH stag

91. WALDKIRCH forest church

42. HIRSCHFELD stag field

92. WEINBLUM vine bloom

43. HONIG honey

93. WEINFELD vine field

44. KATZ cat

94. WEINSTEIN tartar

45. KERN kernel

95. WEISS white

46. KIRSCHBAUM cherry tree

96. WINTER winter

47. KLEINBERG small mountain

97. WOLF wolf

48. KUPERMINE copper mine

98. ZWEIGENBAUM twig tree

49. LAUBERSTAJN  arbour stone

99. ZWETSCHKENBAUM plum tree

50. LEWENKOFF  lion head

100.ZYLBER silver


Baum (Tree). 22" x 22" 1992

Dreifuss (
Three feet).  22" x 22" 1992

Breholz (Firewood). 22" x 22" 1992

Eisenberg (Iron Mountain), 22" x 22" 1992.

Kans, 22" x 22" 1992.

Fishbach (Fish Brook), 22" x 22" 1992.

Luft (Air), 22" x 22" 1992.

Milch (reference to baby or milk teeth), 22" x 22" 1992.

Goldstein (Gold Stone) . 22" x 22" 1992

Haas (Hare), 22" x 22" 1992.
Kleinberg (Small Mountain), 22" x 22" 1992.
Lichtenbaum (Thinning Tree), 22" x 22" 1992.

Weiss (White), 22" x 22" 1992.

Schonbach (Beautiful Brook). 22" x 22" 1992

Steigerwald (Climber's Forest). 22" x 22" 1992

Sternschuss (Shooting Star), 22" x 22" 1992.
Strausz (Ostrich), 22" x 22" 1992.
Tauber (Dove) 22" x 22" 1992

The images used by the artist come from pre-1933 German dictionaries and children's books. The use of the names and images creates a cryptic view of an aspect of German culture.

Page updated 2013.