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Drawing of two internment camp barracks created by a young German Jewish internee

Object | Accession Number: 1998.1.20

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    Brief Narrative
    Pencil sketch created by 10-or-11-year-old Manfred Wildmann, depicting Rivesaltes internment camp, while he was held there with his family between March 11, 1941 and February 1942. Before the Holocaust, Manfred lived in Philippsburg, Germany, with his parents, Heinrich and Rebecca, his siblings, Laure, Margot, and Hugo, and his maternal grandparents, Moritz and Nanette. On November 10, 1938, during the Kristallnacht pogrom, Heinrich was arrested and imprisoned in Dachau concentration camp for five weeks. On October 22, 1940, German authorities deported the Jews of Philippsburg, including the Wildmann family, to Gurs internment camp in unoccupied France, where Nanette died that December. In March 1941, Manfred’s family was transferred to Rivesaltes. Between November 1941 and April 1942, Rebecca secured placements for Laure, Manfred, and Margot in children’s homes run by relief organizations in unoccupied France. In the spring of 1942, Heinrich was transferred to a hospital in Perpignan, and Hugo was assigned to a work unit in Barcarés. During the late summer and fall of 1942, Hugo, Rebecca, her brother Sally, and his family were transported to Drancy transit camp and then deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau killing center in German-occupied Poland, where they were all eventually killed. Following his hospital stay, Heinrich was also deported to Birkenau, via Drancy, at the end of 1943. Allied forces liberated France in August 1944. Moritz managed to survive the war in Gurs, while Manfred, Laure, and Margot remained in France until they immigrated to the US in 1947.
    creation:  after 1941 March 11-before 1942 March
    creation: Rivesaltes (Concentration camp); Rivesaltes (France)
    Credit Line
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Manfred and Sylvia Wildmann
    front, lower right corner, handwritten, graphite : M.Wildmann
    Subject: Manfred Wildmann
    Artist: Manfred Wildmann
    Manfred Wildmann (b.1930) was born in Karlsruhe, Germany, to Heinrich (1888-1943) and Rebecca (nee Neuburger, 1895-1942). At age six, Heinrich was sent by his mother to live with his aunt in Philippsburg after his father died. Later, he learned how to be a master printer from his cousin, who owned a printing shop. Rebecca was born to Moritz (1869-1954) and Nanette (née Holz, 1867-1940) Neuburger. Moritz served as the head of the small, assimilated Jewish community in Philippsburg, and was a teacher, cantor, and shochet [ritual slaughterer]. Heinrich fought for Germany during World War I. Heinrich and Rebecca had three other children: Margot (later Heller, 1922-2010), Hugo Max (1924-1944), and Hannelore (Laure or Lorle, later Laura Kolb, 1925-1999). Their family was among the 30 Jews who lived in Philippsburg, observed the Sabbath and holidays, and kept kosher.

    On January 30, 1933, Adolf Hitler was appointed chancellor of Germany, and authorities throughout Germany quickly began suppressing the rights of Jews and boycotting their businesses. Despite this, Manfred and his siblings continued to attend public school and played with their non-Jewish friends. They did not experience any antisemitism until the Kristallnacht pogrom on November 10, 1938. Early that morning, Manfred’s grandmother, Nanette, came to the house to announce that the synagogue and her house next door were on fire. The arsonists allowed only her to escape, leaving Moritz trapped inside. Heinrich rushed to the synagogue and rescued Moritz. On the way home, Heinrich was arrested and transported to Dachau concentration camp. Later, Moritz salvaged what was left of the burned Torah scrolls in order to bury them. Heinrich did not return home until the following month, on December 16. After the German invasion of northern and western France in May 1940, Rebecca’s brother, Sally (1902-1942), his wife, Vitalia (Vita, née Gluckmann, 1901-1942), and their daughter Miriam (1928-1942), were living in Grenade, in unoccupied southern France, under the new government at Vichy. Sally was part of the prestataires, an organization of foreign workers attached to French army. Heinrich and Rebecca wanted to emigrate, and though they had sponsors in the United States, the family of six was denied entry visas in the summer of 1940.

    On October 22, 1940, German authorities in Philippsburg suddenly ordered the Jewish community to pack their things, took them to a regional assembly area in Bruchsal, and forced them onto a train patrolled by German guards. The train travelled south towards France, periodically making stops to pick-up more Jews. Upon arrival in unoccupied France, Manfred’s family was transported to Gurs internment camp in the Pyrenées Mountains. Gurs was built in 1939, originally serving as a camp for refugees from the Spanish Civil War. Once World War II began, it was transformed into an internment camp for enemy aliens. Full food rations rarely reached the camp inhabitants. Camp administrators often kept food for themselves or sold it on the black market, which resulted in many inmates dying of starvation. In early December 1940, Manfred’s grandmother, Nanette, died from dysentery.

    On March 11, 1941, Manfred’s family was one of many transferred to Rivesaltes internment camp, an army base at the eastern end of the Pyrenées, near the Mediterranean Sea. The daily food allotment was similar to Gurs, and consisted of watery coffee, vegetable soup, bread, and wine. On September 4, 1941, Sally was able to get Moritz released and took him home to Grenade. Rebecca labored to secure placements for her children in group homes established by several relief organizations. In November, Laure went to work in a home run by the Swiss Red Cross in Pringy. In February 1942, Manfred went to a children’s home at The Château de Grammont, just east of Lyons, with a group of 80 boys from the camp. While separated, Manfred regularly exchanged letters with his family members.

    By early April, Manfred’s father, Heinrich, was so ill that he had to be transferred to the Hôpital St. Louis in Perpignan. On April 20, 1942, Manfred’s sister, Margot, was released to a home run by the Jewish Boy Scouts in Beaulieu. That summer, she took a job as a maid with the Valleta family, where she remained in hiding. Around May 20, Manfred’s brother, Hugo, was assigned to a work unit nearby in Barcarés, and regularly visited their parents. In early September, Manfred was able to join his sister Laure in Pringy, where he attended public school in the village.

    In the summer of 1942, the German and Vichy administrators began arresting Jews in unoccupied France and deporting them along with those from occupied areas via Drancy transit camp to Auschwitz-Birkenau killing center in German-occupied Poland. In late August, Sally and Moritz were sent again to Gurs, where Moritz stayed for the remainder of the war. On August 26, Hugo and Rebecca were deported to Birkenau on convoy 24, and Rebecca was likely killed upon arrival. On September 16, Manfred's cousin, Miriam, and aunt, Vitalia, were deported on convoy 33 and killed. On November 4, Sally was deported on convoy 40, and was killed. In July 1943, Heinrich was visited by Laure and Manfred in Perpignan for two weeks. On December 7, Heinrich was deported to Birkenau on convoy 64 and likely killed upon arrival. Hugo, who had been working as a slave laborer, was transferred to the main camp at Auschwitz on April 1, 1944, and was later killed.

    Allied forces landed in Normandy in June 1944, and France was liberated from German occupation in August. In September, Manfred left Pringy to attend high school in Chambon-sur-Lignon, after which he learned how to be an electrician. In spring 1945, Laure moved to Grenoble, and Manfred joined her in June. On June 2, 1947, Margo immigrated to the US aboard the MS Gripsholm. In that same year, Manfred and Laure arrived on October 21, aboard the SS Marine Falcon. The siblings joined relatives in Saint Louis, Missouri, for six months, and then moved to New York City, where Manfred worked part-time while attending New York City College. In 1950, he met Sylvia Birnbaum (b. 1930) while participating in a social club for French speakers. Sylvia and her family were from Leipzig, Germany, and had survived the war in hiding in Belgium. The couple married in January 1954, several weeks after he received his degree in mechanical engineering. Manfred and Sylvia settled in southern California, and had three children. Margot and Laure remained on the east coast. Margot married John Heller. Laure married Herbert Kolb, and changed her name to Laura.

    Physical Details

    Children's art
    Physical Description
    Pencil sketch of two internment camp barracks on rectangular, mediumweight tan paper gridded with thin, faint black lines. Depicted in a slightly diagonal position from end-to-end on the graph paper, both barracks are long, narrow buildings with tiled, low-pitched open gable roofs. On the left side of the image, the back section of a barrack extends from out of the frame. A vertical, partially open, six-paned window is lightly sketched on the sidewall. A short, open space separates the end of the first building from the front end of the second building. The second building has a doublewide, open entrance at the center and the interior is lightly sketched and unclear. The second barrack has five, square windows spaced along the right wall. To the left of the barrack’s front end is a tall, narrow rectangular building with a pointed roof and a small arched window on the front, possibly a guard booth. Visible in the background between the buildings is a low, rolling hillside. There is an arch of four, circular, yellow stains in the lower left corner that is visible on both sides of the paper, and a small brown stain on the front, lower right section. Faint brown fibers in the paper are visible on the blank back.
    overall: Height: 5.250 inches (13.335 cm) | Width: 8.250 inches (20.955 cm)
    overall : paper, graphite

    Rights & Restrictions

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

    Keywords & Subjects

    Personal Name
    Wildmann, Manfred, 1930-

    Administrative Notes

    The drawing was donated to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 1998 by Manfred and Sylvia Wildmann.
    Record last modified:
    2023-08-28 09:14:57
    This page:

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