Artist uses drawings, letters to explore family’s WWII history in new memoir
Award-winning artist Nora Krug’s visual memoir, “Belonging: A German Reckons with History and Home” tells the story of Krug’s attempt to confront the hidden truths of her family’s wartime past in Nazi Germany and to comprehend the historical and personal forces that shaped her life as a German growing up in the second generation after World War II.
Equal parts graphic novel, family scrapbook and investigative journalism, “Belonging” combines Krug’s artwork and hand-lettered texts with family photographs, letters, archival materials and even flea market finds, to paint a powerful picture of Germany and its past.
Though Krug was born decades after the fall of the Nazi regime, WWII cast a long shadow throughout her childhood and youth in the city of Karlsruhe, Germany. For Krug, the simple fact of her German citizenship bound her to the Holocaust and its unspeakable atrocities and left her without a sense of cultural belonging. Yet she knew little about her own family’s involvement in the war: though all four grandparents lived through the war, they never spoke of it.
“Belonging,” which was released earlier this month, is a reflection on guilt and memory, on the meaning of national identity and on the responsibility that we all have as inheritors of our countries’ pasts – issues which continue to become ever more pressing in our current political climate.
Krug’s drawings and visual narratives have appeared in publications such as The New York Times, The Guardian and Le Monde diplomatique. Her short-form graphic biography, “Kamikaze,” about a surviving Japanese WWII pilot, was included in the 2012 editions of Best American Comics and Best American Nonrequired Reading.
She is the recipient of fellowships from the Maurice Sendak Foundation, Fulbright, the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, the Pollock-Krasner Foundation and of medals from the Society of Illustrators and the New York Art Directors Club. She is an associate professor in the Illustration Program at Parsons School of Design in New York.
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