Call for camp memorabilia
Auschwitz Memorial it is not only a vast territory and genuine post-camp blocks, barracks, guard towers… but also dozen thousands of exhibits of particular character, meaning and symbology. Memory is not given once and for all. When the last witnesses and survivors pass away, we need to build it collectively on what remains: accounts of former prisoners and genuine memorabilia connected with KL Auschwitz.
'Each item may have its own great meaning and should find its own place within the collection of the Memorial,' said Dr. Piotr M.A. Cywiński, Museum director. 'They will be protected, conserved, researched and exhibited here. Here is where they belong. That is why this is our next call for providing the Museum with personal camp memorabilia,' he emphasized.
'Artistic works as well as camp letters, together with small objects belonging to camp prisoners, are among objects which have recently been donated to the Memorial Collections,' explained Agnieszka Sieradzka from Museum Collections. 'Personal memorabilia connected with the history of this place are of particular importance both for commemorating their owners as well as for completing our knowledge about the German Nazi concentration and extermination camp Auschwitz-Birkenau,' she remarked.
Portrait and letter
Felicja Wanke-Lutobarska (Kręglewska in the camp, camp number 46135), former prisoner of Auschwitz and Ravensbrück, owned a pencil portrait performed by her camp mate Eugenia Kaczyńska. A fragment of camp letter form also belonged to her.
The portrait was performed in the Auschwitz II-Birkenau camp in 1943. Both women used to share one bunk, where the work was being secretly created. The remains of wrapping paper, in which a 1kg package sent to the camp by Wanke-Lutobarska’s mother had been enveloped, were used to perform it.
The letter was in turn illegally smuggled and sent by Felicja Wanke-Lutobarska in secret during the evacuation of the Auschwitz camp. During an illegal stop of the transport in Saar, the train with female prisoners directed to labour in KL Ravensbrück remained for a longer period of time on a sidetrack. Civilian workers employed there tried to establish contact with the prisoners. One of them, a man of Polish origin, offered to send short letters to families. Felicja Kręglewska gave him the pencil portrait together with the letter addressed to her mother, Stanisława Kręglewska. Felicja Wanke-Lutobarska died on October 31 2015.
Portrait and prisoner designation
Genuine pencil portrait on bristol board, representing Stanisław Serafini in his camp uniform with the number “P 9307” and performed illegally in Auschwitz by a fellow prisoner whose name remains unknown, together with genuine prisoner designation from Mauthausen – camp number engraved on a piece of metal combined with a hand-made belt, were donated to the Auschwitz Memorial by the family of a former prisoner.
The signet performed in the Auschwitz camp for prisoner Stanisław Rudek (camp number 9305) is now also included in the Collections, donated by his relative. It holds the initials “RS”, the prisoner number and the dates of arresting and incarcerating in the Montelupich prison in Cracow “8 VII 1940”. The signet was supplied to Cracow by a prisoner released from KL Auschwitz whose name remains unknown and given back to Stanisław Rudek’s sister. While donating the item to the Museum, the family decided that it should come back to the place where it had been performed and where Stanisław Rudek perished on June 15 1942.
The Museum has obtained also a modern painting by former prisoner Carl Schachter. Its subject relates to the experience he lived through during the occupation period as well as his incarceration in the Warsaw ghetto and in the camp.