Lokesh & Hee Jun Roman Funerals

Hee Jun: The first step of a Roman Funeral was the procession. This was marked by the movement of bodies, and the crowd of people following the said body. The wealthy would have many musicians and mimes playing for them, while the poor would only have a few flutes or stringed instruments playing music. The Romans were very dramatic. They would often hire professional mourners to participate in the procession. These mourners (often women) would wail loudly, rip out their hair, and claw their own faces. The more mourners at the funeral, the wealthier the family of the deceased individual was.

Lokesh: Actors with imagines (ancestral masks) formed the next part of procession. The actors would dress up as the deceased’s ancestors and attempt to mimic their characteristics. The Romans were huge on ancestral worship because they held a strong belief about afterlife following death. This was essentially to “help” the deceased have a good time in the afterlife. Once the procession is over, it is followed by either Cremation or Burial. For a cremation, the body would be taken to the necropolis and put on a funeral pyre. It was then burned, and the ashes were put into a funerary urn.  It was believed that until the body was burned, its spirit wouldn’t have crossed the River Styx yet (river that takes one from the world of the live to that of the dead). Thus, there was a sense that the psychic impression of the deceased still lingered around friends and family, and the spirit would become angered if anything negative was said about it. Following Cremation/Burial, there is a Eulogy.

Hee Jun: If the person who died ever did something to benefit his/her family or made a change in Rome, the family would offer a Eulogy at the funeral. Following the Eulogy, there would always be a feast. This was the final stage of the funeral. Past this, the dead would be “free to move onto the underworld” and the family would be able to move along. Once the body was buried or cremated, the deceased still had to be remembered. The Romans set apart certain days each year to remember loved ones, including the Parentalia (held from February 13 to 21) to honor the family’s ancestors. Individual families had personal days for commemorating the deceased, as well.

Lokesh Narayanan Survivor Letter

Schindler poses with Jews he rescued circa 1946.

Schindler poses with Jews he rescued circa 1946.

Virginia Holocaust Museum

2000 East Cary Street

Richmond, VA 23223


Dear Oskar Schindler:

I hope you are doing well. My name is Lokesh Narayanan, and I am the curator at the Virginia Holocaust Museum, located in Richmond, Virginia. The museum has been privileged enough to receive a rare collection of photographs dating back to the Holocaust, and after examining the photographs, and researching the history surrounding them, I have made some interesting discoveries. I have read about your story online (www.holocaustresearchproject.org), and I came to realize just how difficult life had been for you (since you worked for the Nazis while trying to save Jews). I want to gather more information about this photograph for our exhibit, and I could use your help. We are opening a new exhibit which shows everything you have done for the Jews, and for the most part, it is very accurate. However, there are some questions I would like to ask in order to make things more clear for the people that are viewing our exhibit. I hope that you can answer the few questions I have relating to your life stories.

In your story, you set up an enamelware factory in Krakow that had a combination of Jewish workers that were selected by Germans and free Polish workers. Apparently, at first, you only wanted make money at the factory, but as time moved on, you grew to care for your Jewish workers, and made up cunning ways to save them from the otherwise brutal tactics set up by Adolf Hitler and the SS. I also read that as more Jewish children were unnecessarily killed by the SS officers and in concentration camps, you became determined to save as many as you could from the horror that would’ve befallen them. This takes me to the image I have selected, and I have a few questions to ask about this. First, what was the reaction of these particular Jews when they first arrived at your factory for work? Were the happy? Scared? Confused? What do you think based on the expressions on their faces? Secondly, there is a man standing in the background of the picture. Who is this man, and what role did he serve? Finally, how did the Jews react when they realized that you had saved them and many others from death? As I analyze the image, it is clear that you had an intimate moment with your previous factory workers. You all look relaxed and laid back; definitely relieved that this “hell on Earth” was finally over. Everybody also looks healthy and well clothed. Were they also able to get back their previous lives?

I read an article in Forbes magazine stating, “Oskar’s espionage activities on behalf of Germany, while regrettable to enemies of Germany, later put him in a position to save many lives.” How would you respond to this, and how does this relate to your “double life” that you went through? For example, how did you  cope with the tension? It’s obvious that if the Nazis caught you helping out the Jews, they would’ve had you executed on the spot. Also on Forbes, I read that you went through a “transition phase.” By that, I mean you went from (at first) not caring about your workers, and just caring about earning money, to caring about them and putting your own life on the line to save them. How did this affect you as a person and what life lessons did you learn from it? How painful was it to serve for the German Military as a spy after you started realizing just how immoral they were in their actions? What moral values did you gain from helping save the Jews, and how did your experience help change your views of the world?

Thank you for your time and sharing your story with me. I hope we can continue to educate people on the events of the Holocaust so that we can prevent something horrible like this from ever happening again.


Lokesh Narayanan