Holocaust ArtworkHe did not sketch for pleasure. He sketched in testimony to all those who never came back. The lone witness is often present. The ghostly face observes with pain the inhuman scenes that cannot be erased from his photographic memory.From The book, David Olre--The Eyes of a Witness
Goal of TodayThe goal of today will be to view the holocaust from the eyes of people who lived through it. How can art be a useful way of studying the Holocaust?
How Can Survivors Tell Their Stories?
David Olre is well-known as an artist whose work testifies to the enormity of the Holocaust. A survivor of Auschwitz, his drawings, paintings, and sculpture have helped considerably to reveal the truth about the atrocities suffered by Jews and other Nazi victims at this notorious death camp.
David Olre was born in Warsaw, Poland, on January 19,1902. On February 20, 1943, he was arrested by French police during a round up of Jews at Seine-et-Oise. Olre was detained at Drancy, then deported to Auschwitz.From March 2, 1943, to January 19, 1945, David Olre was interned at Auschwitz. There he worked as a Sonderkommando, part of a special labor unit responsible for emptying the remains from the ovens of the crematory and for removing the bodies from the gas chambers. The horrors he witnessed there are incomprehensible to anyone who did not personally experience the Holocaust.The work of David Olre has exceptional documentary value. No photographs were taken at Auschwitz of what went on in the gas chambers and crematoria. Only the memories of Olre, reproduced as art in his drawings and paintings, give an account of the horrible reality.
Like many of the young men in early months of the war, Jan Komski, a Polish Roman Catholic, was arrested on the Poland/Czechoslovakia border attempting to reach the newly formed Polish Army in France. He was carrying false identity papers under an assumed name of Jan Baras. He was first taken to the prison at Tarnow and then sent to Auschwitz, arriving there, along with 727 other Polish men, on June 14, 1940.
Jobs for Men in the Women's Camp by Jan Komski
Horse Stable: A Barracks for Men by Jan Komski
Roll Call by Jan Komski
by Jan Komski
by Jan KomskiThis man is being released from the camp hospital. He is considered fit to work.
Arrival of a Convoy by David Olre .A new convoy arrives in the background as inmates struggle with a cart carrying away cadavers from a previous convoy.
No Escape, No Choice by Jan Komski's
David Olre SelectionPg 71
David Olre Unable to Work
David Olre Mother and Daughter through a Machine Gun Barrel
David Olre Blocks 2 to 5, Birkenau
David Olre "Their Last Steps."What grim building dominates the landscape?What adjectives describe the physical condition of these men?How has the artist suggested their loyalty to one another?
David Olre GassingThe container in the lower right is labeled Zyklon B. Although Olre spent most of his time doing art for the SS and translating BBC radio broadcasts, he was, from time to time, called upon to help empty the gas chambers.
David Olre Gold and BloodPg 56
The Experimental Injection David Olre.
David Olre (1902-1985) Leaving for Work Pg 61-62
Hanging by Jan Komski
by Jan Komski
David Olre Extermination of the Jewish People
The Loser by Jan Komski
Panorama of Birkenau
The Identification by Jan KomskiWomen are tattooed soon after arrival.
Ella Liebermann-ShiberDeath March
Zyklon "B," prussic acid in the form of amethyst-colored crystals, was used in Auschwitz and other extermination camps to murder by gassing the victims of the Nazis. The crystals were dropped through openings in the ceiling of the gas chambers. To fool the victims and to avoid panic, the gas chambers were disguised with fake shower heads to look like regular showers.Fritz Hirschberger
Fritz Hirschberger The painting is suggesting of a parent sitting in the foreground with a small rocking horse, and the horrible memory of the loss of his family in a gas chamber, marked in the image as "bath house." The artist suggests that those who have been through the Holocaust can never fully recover from it, especially the negative memories of loss.
Fritz HirschbergerThe image refers to the medical experimentation done on inmates at various concentration camps. The paradox of the Nazi era was that an order from Goering in October, 1933, prohibited experimentation on animals.
by Jan KomskiCorpses, stacked high in the Crematorium I storage chamber, awaited burial in the adjacent room. The burial was simple - in the fire and smoke of the furnaces. Prisoners, called Sonderkommando, or special squad, were forced to work in this place, on pain of death.
Aba BayefskyBelsen Concentration Camp - the Pit, watercolor and charcoal on paper
Aba BayefskyRemembering the Holocaust, oil on canvas,