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Drawing of women on outdoor benches by a German Jewish internee

Object | Accession Number: 1988.1.36

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    Drawing of women on outdoor benches by a German Jewish internee

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    Brief Narrative
    Sketch of two women sitting outdoors at Gurs internment camp, drawn by Lili Andrieux, a German Jewish internee. Lili created over 100 detailed drawings of people and daily life in the internment camps where she was held from May 1940 - September 1942 in France. Alençon was a collection center for transport to Camp de Gurs in Vichy France. After surrendering to Nazi Germany in June 1940, France was divided into two zones: a German military occupation zone and Free France under the Vichy regime. Gurs, built in spring 1939 to hold refugees from Spain, became an internment center for Jewish refugees. Lili, originally from Berlin, moved to Paris in 1938. She was taken to Alençon in May 1940 and reached Gurs on June 4. From March 1941-September 1942, she was held in the Hotel Terminus in Marseilles waiting for a visa. She was then sent to Les Milles internment camp where she became ill with typhus. When she recovered, she escaped and, with the help of the resistance, lived in hiding until fall 1944, when the war ended in France. Lili was a translator for the US Army and US Graves Registration Command until immigrating to America in September 1946.
    Artwork Title
    Ilot H
    Alternate Title
    Section H - Recovery corner in Hospital Section
    Series Title
    Camp de Gurs – 1940
    creation:  after 1940
    creation: Gurs (Concentration camp); Gurs (France)
    Credit Line
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection
    front, bottom, right, black ink : LRA 40
    Artist: Lili Andrieux
    Subject: Lili Andrieux
    Lili Andrieux (1914-1996) was born Lili Sophie Abraham in Berlin, Germany, to Hans (1880-1955) and Margarete (nee Landau, 1887-1963) Abraham. She had two brothers, Joachim (1912-1958) and Peter (1916-1988), and a sister, Gabriele (later Nanda, 1928-2014). The Abrahams were a wealthy, assimilated Jewish family, and Hans was a respected notary or lawyer .

    On January 30, 1933, Adolf Hitler was appointed Chancellor of Germany. Anti-Jewish decrees were passed that restricted every aspect of Jewish life. Despite this, that same year, Lili became the only Jewish woman admitted to the Hochschule fur Kunsterzeichnung (the State College for Art Education) in Berlin. Admittance to the school was based on portfolio work. In September 1935, the Nazis announced the Nuremberg Laws, which excluded Jews from citizenship and prohibited them from marrying or having relations with non-Jewish persons. This likely prompted Lili’s brother, Peter, to immigrate to England in 1936 and find work in leather tanning and shoe manufacturing. In the 1930s, the other members of her family also immigrated to England, where Margarete’s brother lived. Because of the laws, Lili was not permitted to take her final exams in 1937. In 1938, she went to Paris to continue her studies at the Ranson Academie and permanently adopted the French surname Andrieux.

    Britain and France declared war on Germany on September 3, 1939, two days after Germany invaded Poland. In November 1939, Lili’s brother, Peter, left England for Melbourne, Australia, and changed his name to Peter Landan. On May 7, 1940, Lili’s parents and her siblings, Joachim and Gabriele, sailed from England, to the United States. The family settled in Massachusetts, with the support of Hans Apel, a family friend from Berlin who had immigrated to the United States in 1937. Lili’s father obtained a research position at Harvard University, and Joachim worked as a gardener, farmer, and a stockman.

    German forces invaded France on May 10, 1940, and the following month, France signed an armistice agreement with Germany. Germany occupied northern and western France, while southern and eastern France was governed by a French collaborationist government headquartered in the city of Vichy, suspending the constitution of the Third Republic. Soon after, Lili was taken to the transit center in Alencon, the Department of de L’Orne in Normandy. On June 4, she was transferred to Gurs internment camp in southwestern France near the Spanish border. In March 1941, Lili was moved to the Hotel Terminus du port in Marseilles, where women and children were held while waiting for visas and immigration permits. In September, she was transferred back to Gurs until November, when she was returned to the Hotel Terminus. While imprisoned, she created over 100 detailed drawings of daily domestic life, and the different groups held in the camps. An exhibit of her works was held in Aix-en-Provence in 1942, but they did not include scenes of the internment camp, as this was forbidden by camp regulations. On September 2, 1942, Lili was sent to the Family Reunion center in Les Milles internment camp, with the other women and children who had been held in hotels in Marseilles. She contracted typhus and was hospitalized in Aix-en-Provence. When she was discharged on September 26, she escaped and lived in hiding for the duration of the war with the aid of the French resistance, which she joined .

    On August 24, 1944, the German forces in France surrendered. Lili remained in Aix-en-Provence, working as a translator and multi-lingual secretary for the American Army and the US Graves Registration Command. In September 1946, after receiving a scholarship for the Museum School of Fine Arts in Boston, Massachusetts, she immigrated to the US, leaving Marseille aboard the Athos II. She married Ricardo Ester (1916-2004), whom she had met in Camp de Gurs. Ricardo, born in Barcelona, was a refugee from Francisco Franco’s fascist Spain, and had been a pilot for the Republic during the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939). They settled in San Diego, California, where Lili had a career as a commercial artist. Her work was occasionally exhibited, and is owned by the Lochamei HaGhetaot and the Bibliotheque Nationale, as well as the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.

    Physical Details

    Physical Description
    Black ink wash drawing on paper depicting two women wearing light colored short sleeved shirts and skirts, resting on long wooden benches along a tall wire fence with thick foliage on the other side. The woman on the left is sitting on the edge of the bench, looking down at her lap where one arm is resting and grasped by her other hand. She is leaning slightly forward and to the right toward an object draped with cloth at the top of the bench. The woman on the left is laying on her back with one arm covering her eyes and the other resting at her side, with one leg crossed over the other. Her bench is partitioned on three sides with draped cloth. On the ground next to her is a low table covered with a checked cloth. On top of the table is a cup, a vase with foliage, and a small bottle. The foreground is drawn with continuous, precise strokes, while the background fence and foliage is drawn with quick, loose, dry brush strokes. It is initialed and dated in the lower right.
    overall: Height: 11.000 inches (27.94 cm) | Width: 14.000 inches (35.56 cm)
    pictorial area: Height: 6.000 inches (15.24 cm) | Width: 9.250 inches (23.495 cm)
    overall : wove paper, ink, graphite
    reverse, top, left, circled, pencil : 6

    Rights & Restrictions

    Conditions on Access
    No restrictions on access
    Conditions on Use
    No restrictions on use

    Keywords & Subjects

    Administrative Notes

    The drawing was acquired by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 1988.
    Funding Note
    The cataloging of this artifact has been supported by a grant from the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany.
    Record last modified:
    2024-01-16 10:38:36
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