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Halina Olomucki sketch of Jewish men whose beards were publicly shaved

Object | Accession Number: 1989.331.5

Drawing of Jewish men whose beards have been shaved off created by Halina Olszewski (later Olomucki) in 1945, just after the war. It depicts a scene she witnessed while interned in Warsaw Ghetto from October 1940-May 1943. The full beards worn by traditional Orthodox Jewish males as a sign of piety were a convenient target for occupying German troops who would shave off the beards in public, using abusive and humiliating methods. Nazi Germany occupied Poland in September 1939, and, in fall 1940, Halina, her mother Margarit-Hadassa, and siblings were relocated to the ghetto. Halina did forced labor, but she felt her real job was to record the misery and suffering of ghetto residents. Halina smuggled many drawings to a non-Jewish friend outside the ghetto. In May 1943, she and her mother were deported to Majdanek where her mother was killed on arrival. In July, Halina was sent to Auschwitz-Birkenau, where she continued to create art in secret. Other prisoners asked her to draw them or their loved ones to preserve their memory and show the world what happened. She hid artwork in the camp, much of it recovered postwar. On January 18, 1945, Halina was sent by death march to Ravensbrück and Neustadt-Glewe, where she was liberated on May 2, 1945. She returned to Warsaw but found no surviving family members.

Artwork Title
On a rase la barbe, Germany, 1945
Alternate Title
The Beard was Shaved, Germany, 1945
creation:  1945
creation: Germany
Credit Line
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection
Record last modified: 2021-02-10 09:47:45
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