You’ve cleared your space – your physical, mental, emotional, and digital space – making way for something new, for possibility. You’ve pondered, journaled, and meditated . . . you know what you want your 2016 to look like. You know what you will do. You will lose weight, finish books, make 3 quilts. You’ve made your plans and are prepared to stick to them. You are in control of your life for the first time in I don’t know how long, and it feels good. Real good.
Then one night in mid-January, you stitch Nancy’s drawings while watching a multi-part documentary with your husband and your daughter, and just like that – within a space of 4-7 minutes – out go the best laid plans, the slate is cleared, your life is changed . . .
Between January 1940 and August 1941, 70,273 physically and mentally disabled people – men, women, teens, boys, and girls – were murdered by the Nazis. Though they never even laid eyes on the disabled person they were evaluating, the Nazi doctors read the medical files and, if from the words on the page, the person was deemed “unfit” or an “economic burden on society”, the doctor placed a red X at the bottom of the form. Three doctors were to read each medical file, and when two of them made a red X on the page, the disabled person’s fate was sealed. Most were murdered within hours.
I will commemorate these 70,273 voiceless, powerless people who were so callously and casually murdered by gathering 70,273 blocks of white fabric (representing innocence and the paper the doctors read), each bearing two red X’s (representing one person), and I will stitch them together into quilts.
The Engineer’s first comment? “I don’t think you realize how big that is.”
My response? Oh yes I do. I want this to be so big, so immense that people cannot look away, cannot say they didn’t see it.
Am I crazy? Maybe. But Bones say I can’t not do this. I can’t change history – can’t unring that bell – but I can commemorate the lives of these 70,273 disabled people in this small way.
Now I’ve done the math, and there’s no way I can do this by myself, so I’m asking for your help. You don’t have to have ever held a piece of fabric except to button or zip it. Over the next several weeks, I’ll be posting instructional posts and videos to show you different techniques you can use to make a block.
There are all sorts of other ways to get involved besides making blocks. Head here to read and get idea kindling. If something else comes to mind, please let me know.
This is a project that will unfold as it unfolds, and it will unfold here, at this digital address. I’ll be adding ideas, instructions, and inspiration. I’ll be profiling people who’ve stepped up to collaborate. I’ll run into something and ask for help. I’ll be showing the blocks as they come in and the quilts as they are stitched. If you don’t want to miss anything (and trust me: you don’t), subscribe to receive the 70273 project updates (note: if you’ve already subscribed to the blog, there’s no need to subscribe to receive project updates because you already receive anything that’s posted here, so you’ll get them.)
How can you jump in and get started?
- Share this post in all your social media outlets. (And please don’t just share it once. Share it as often as you will.)
- Make a block and send it to me.
- Subscribe so you don’t miss a single thing.
And hey, see those social media buttons in the upper right sidebar? Click on them to find me around e-town and keep up with project updates there, too.
Hi Jeanne, I have two more Thoughtfully Asked Questions. Approximately how many quilts do you estimate will be made from the 70273 pieces? (I know it will depend on the sizes people choose.) And what will you do with the quilts when they are completed?
Very good question, Susan. Thank you for asking. As for how many quilts, you’re right: it depends on the size of the blocks that are sent in. I just have absolutely no idea at this point. We had to come up with some guesstimate for the crowdfunding page, but we didn’t think in terms of actual number of quilts. I’ll get back with you when I have a better idea.
As for what we’ll do with the quilts, I hope to send them out into the world far and wide. Into museums and well, where ever folks will see them. If the space is large enough, I envision them being hung from the ceiling or suspended on framing built of pvc forming a maze that people can actually walk through, giving the sense of transitioning this world into another.
Thanks for the questions. Keep ’em coming cause not only can I not make the blocks all by myself, I can’t think of everything all by myself. I’m going to add these questions to the TAQ page right now. x
Hi Jeanne, I am very sympathetic to your project and impressed with the scope of it and your desire to do it. Please understand, however, my need to tell you that “Crystal Night” the night Jewish businesses were trashed and Jews murdered occurred in 1938. Marginalizing and disenfranchising began even earlier that that so in reality, the Holocaust, which includes the murder of disabled persons, began much earlier.
ps. I can’t tell if this already got to you. I’ve signed up.
Thank you for taking the time to comment, Bonnie. I have read so many different accounts, so many different dates, heard so many different stories – it is not my intention to overlook or misrepresent or otherwise dismiss any people. Because I am a lifelong champion of disabled people (and because I have to quantify it some way), I’m choosing to focus first and foremost on these 70273 disabled people (most likely represemting a spectrum of religions) who were murdered in this particular program instead of the dates. My fury is much broader than these 70273 people, though, please know that. I hope you will choose to participate and make one or more blocks. Again, thank you.
Yes, I will most likely participate and I do understand your focus. It was just the date that got me. I wish you many, many blocks and many quilts. Also, I hope you have lots of help putting them together.
Thank you for understanding and for giving me more information. I can never get too much of either. I’m going to think positively and say I look forward to receiving your block. I only launched a week ago, and already the response has been phenomenal. (And yes, I hope to have help making the quilts, too! Especially cause I’d love to see this project finished in my lifetime!)
What is the name of the documentary that you watched? I would like to see it too.
Hey Shasta, It’s a well-done, comprehensive, multi-part documentary called Auschwitz: The Nazis and the Final Solution. The few sentences about this atrocity appears about 2/3 of the way through the first episode of the first season. (They don’t mention the number 70,273. That came from my subsequent research.)
If you look at the top of my blog and tap on “70273”, you’ll see a drop down menu. Select Thoughtfully Asked Questions, scroll down, down, down and you’ll see this very question. If you click on the name of the documentary there, it will whisk you there.
Thank you Jeanne. I thought I looked there but apparently didn’t scroll down enough.
You’re welcome. I’m glad you asked. It’s a chilling documentary. The book I’m readings do will start writing lists about soon is even more disturbing.
Hi, Jeane, I just see this amazing project, on french blogs ” Cécile” and ” la Ruche des Quilteuses” , as I am a longarmer, in France, I offer you to quilt …I don’t know how you organize things after collecting blocks … Can you send me an e-mail … Happy quilting ! chantal
What a wonderful, generous offer, Chantal – thank you. Sending you an email right now!
Oops – sorry for calling you by your last name in my previous reply, Chantal. Can’t blame that one on the auto-correct feature! I’ve got it now, though, so I apologize and promise to get it right form now on.
Chantal, thank you SO much for offering your services to the Project, I can’t begin to say how very grateful Jeanne and all of us are that you and so many people in France have welcomed this Project with such enormous enthusiasm! I will be in touch with you as soon as possible to arrange quilting with you, thank you so much xxx
Hi Jeanne, I’m in!
Just a question about crosses and blocks: is it possible to piece them or have they to be appliqued?
Salut Frèderique! I hope you don’t mind me replying on Jeanne’s behalf 🙂
The blocks can be made any way you wish at all; appliquéd, pieced, patched, or painted with fabric paints. The sole criteria are that:
a) They are one of the three specific sizes listed
b) That the backgrounds are white or off-white to represent the paper medical records by which the victims mental and physical health was judged
c) That each block has two red crosses of any size, contained within 5 mm of the block edge to allow for piecing together.
No writing is allowed anywhere within the block face: if you wish to dedicate a block to a specific person, you can write their name on the REVERSE side, within one of the cross shapes so that it is not visible from the front.
That’s it!! So glad to have you all with us! Bises xx
Bonjour Chloe ! Thanks for the details, good to know.
You are very welcome! Je vous en prie! À bientôt, bon weekend xo
Maybe there is too much traffic? But I can’t sign on to the blog. It keeps asking me to enter a web page even tho I did.
I am interested in helping. I will complete a quilt.
One thought about estimating quilts is to just do it by calculating surface area, so many blocks equal so many square inches, then decide how many square inches is your desired quilt. Will they be uniform or as different as the victims?
My experience in joining a quilt from a group taught me to always ask for at least a one inch border beyond the required size or you will get things you cannot use or will need to fill in gaps with white. And blocks ravel.
Sorry Disqus (the commenting system) is being difficult. I’ll check into it tonight and see if there’s a problem I can fix by myself. If not, I’ll contact the support team and get them moving. Even though you entered the url for your web site, it didn’t come through. But never fear, I found your beautiful site and your beautiful work! I’m on the road today, landing later tonight, and when I do, I plan to spend some time there treating myself to a leisurely look at the photos and reading about all you’ve done.
Thank you for offering to do a quilt. I’ll email you more about that when I’m at my computer. Each quilt is a different size because, like you say, each one is as unique as the victims, plus I want to have a quilt to fit any size exhibit venue. These goal of The 70273 Project is raise awareness of disabilities and special needs by commemorating those who died, celebrating those who live, and educating all who will listen.
More later tonight (or tomorrow if I’m too bleary-eyed when we get there). I’m grateful and excited that you’ll become part of The 70273 Project.
Jeanne, what a lovely, warm response! happy travels.
I keep trying, still won’t work.
You mention possibly having the
finished quilts displayed in museums. Have you contacted the U.S. Holocaust Memorial and Museum in Washington, D.C? There are other places that remember the Holocaust that are scattered around the U.S. (Texas, Indiana, Missouri, etc.) and the world (Israel, United Kingdom, etc.). It would be nice if they knew about your project and supplied information about displays.
I haven’t contacted the Holocaust Museum yet, but they’re at the top of the list. People who live near the smaller museums are reaching out to them. If you think of anywhere else, please let me know.
I’m glad Alison introduced this quilting service project in class. We enjoyed sewing squares for such a good cause. Good luck!
Thank you, Mary, for letting your class make blocks for The 70273, for inviting me to sit in on your class one day, and for your kind, supportive words here.
I am looking forward to making a patched piece to add to the quilts. I tried to download the Provenance Form but just keep getting an Error note!
Thank you for helping us commemorate these victims, and thank you for letting me know about the trouble with the Provenamce Form. If you see this, would you let met know (if you remember) where you tried to download? I need to check all the links anyway, it’s not a big deal. I don’t just like to start with that link. Again, thanks for taking the time to let me know.
Hi, I tried to download the Provenance Form from the blog. I went into the blog on my iPad from Facebook. Regards, Lyn Ayres.
Sent from my iPad
What does the term “middling” mean?
HI Barbara! A Middling is what we call a quilt made from a fat quarter (a piece of fabric measuring approximately 18″ x 22″.) Other guidelines include:
Middlings must be sent to me as complete quilts.
The base must be white or off white.
A completed Provenance Form must be sent with the quilt.
You can place as many red x’s as you want on the Middling, as long as all are presented as obvious pairs because two red x’s represent one person. On the Provenance Form, you tell me how many people you’ve commemorated (so I don’t have to count!)
There’s more info here: http://thebarefootheart.com/a-new-way-to-make-blocks-and-quilts-middlings/
And if you scroll through the blog posts, you’ll find several posts about Middlings. Let me know if you have other questions!