Auschwitz Survivors Haunting Works Displayed

Story By: Bartosz StaszewskiSub-Editor: Joseph GolderAgency: Central European News
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The haunting works of a prisoner who survived the Nazi Auschwitz concentration camp showing scenes from the Holocaust are being exhibited together for the first time.

The exhibition of 83 of David Olere’s works has opened at the Auschwitz Museum in the Lesser Poland region of southern Poland.

The works are the moving paintings and drawings Olere created in relation to his time in the Auschwitz concentration camp between March 1943 and 1945.

The exhibition is the first time the works which were previously in the Auschwitz Museum Collection, the Memorial de la Shoah in France and the private collections of Yad Vashem and Lohamei Getaot in Israel, are
displayed together.

The exhibition shows the stages of the Holocaust process, from the moment of arrival to the camp on ramps and the selection process to the killings in gas chambers and the burning of bodies in crematoria. The stages were
recorded immediately after the war in drawings and then later developed into paintings.

Dr Piotr Cywinski, head of the Auschwitz Museum, said: “This exhibition not only shows what happened in the most secretive and guarded space of Auschwitz-Birkenau, but these paintings show the unspeakable trauma of the man who went through it.”

Marc Olere, grandson of the artist said during the opening of the exhibition: “My grandfather David was an artist, painter and sculptor, but above all an important voice for peace and humanity. He survived the darkest experience of the Auschwitz-Birkenau extermination camp and was a direct witness to the tragedy and human fall.”

David Olere was born on 19th January 1902 in Warsaw. He studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw. In 1918 he left for Berlin and then moved to Paris, where he settled permanently.

On 20th February 1943, due to being of Jewish origin, he was arrested by the French police and placed in the Drancy camp. From there, on 2nd March, he was deported to the German Nazi concentration and extermination camp Auschwitz, where he was numbered 106 144.

In 1945, he was evacuated from Auschwitz into the Mauthausen camp and then to Melk, where he worked in an underground tunnel. On 6th May, 1945, he was liberated by the American army.

Soon after the war he created a series of around 70 drawings which in later years Olere used to paint shocking oil paintings. This very detailed record of the subsequent stages of the extermination and scenes from the prisoners’ lives is said to be of “exceptional documentary value”.

David Olere died on 21st August 1985 in Paris.

The exhibition “David Olere. The one who survived the crematorium III “can be seen in block 21 at the site of the former Auschwitz I camp until March 2019.

Bartosz Staszewski

I am a journalist and correspondent mainly covering Poland and Eastern Europe.

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