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Print 5 from a set of reproduced sketches by a French artist and concentration camp prisoner

Object | Accession Number: 2012.71.2.5

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    Brief Narrative
    Print reproduction of a sketch, from a set of fifteen, depicting a guard preparing to drop a large rock on a prisoner that has collapsed out of a line of prisoners carrying rocks at Natzweiler-Struthof concentration camp in France, and published in 1946. A few of the prisoners are identified with NN (Nacht und Nebel [night and fog]) on their uniforms. The sketches were originally created in secret in the camp by Henri Gayot and the published set includes an introduction by Roger LaPorte: both members of the French resistance and prisoners in Natzweiler. Both men were marked “Nacht and Nebel”, individuals presenting a threat to German security that had been abducted in the middle of the night and were meant to be “vanished” in the camps. LaPorte was arrested by the German Sipo in February 1943 and detained as a political prisoner in several prisons then transferred to Natzweiler in July. Gayot was arrested by the Germans and sent to Natzweiler in the spring of 1944. As Allied Forces advanced on the main camp in September, it was evacuated and the prisoners were sent to concentration camps in Germany. Gayot and LaPorte were both sent to Dachau and later liberated by US troops in April 1945. The portfolio of prints was acquired by Manfred Hillmann, another Natzweiler prisoner. Manfred (later Fred) and his father, Hermann, were deported from Chemnitz, Germany, to Poland in October 1938. In June 1939, Manfred was arrested by the Gestapo. After Germany invaded Poland on September 1, Manfred was transferred to Buchenwald concentration camp in Germany. Manfred was sent to Natzweiler in March 1942, and in December, he was deported to Auschwitz III (Monowitz) in German-occupied Poland. The camp was evacuated in January 1945, and Manfred was transferred to Gross Rosen in Germany, and then Buchenwald where he was liberated by US troops. He learned that his parents and brothers were killed in Belzec killing center in April 1942.
    Artwork Title
    Travaux de terassement
    Alternate Title
    Series Title
    Struthof Natzwiller
    depiction:  1944 April-1944 September
    publication/distribution:  1946
    depiction: Struthof (Concentration camp); Natzwiller (France)
    publication: Offenburg (Germany)
    Credit Line
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Theodore A. Feintuch
    front, upper left corner, printed, black ink : 5
    front, lower right corner, printed, black ink : HGayot
    Artist: Henri Gayot
    Subject: Henri Gayot
    Subject: Roger LaPorte
    Author: Roger LaPorte
    Publisher: Burda-Offenburg
    Distributor: Fédération nationale des déportés et internés résistants et patriotes
    Subject: Fred Hillman
    Henri Gayot (1904–1981) was born in Panilleuse, France. His father was a veteran of World War I (1914-1918) and both parents were teachers. Henri obtained a degree as an art teacher in 1930. He taught at Fromentin Normal School in La Rochelle, where he lived with his wife and two sons.

    On September 1, 1939, Nazi Germany invaded Poland, and France declared war on Germany. Henri was mobilized into the French Army and became a lieutenant in the regiment of Senegalese riflemen. On May 10, 1940, France was invaded by Germany. France capitulated and signed an armistice on June 22. Henri was taken prisoner in Saint-Die on June 22. He was transported to Oflag XVIIA, a prisoner of war camp for officers in Moravia. While interned, he made sketches with chewed tobacco. He was released in April 1942, partly due to his asthma. He returned to La Rochelle.

    Under the terms of the armistice, Germany annexed Alsace-Lorraine. The German Army occupied northern and western France, and placed the region under the leadership of a military commander. Henri joined the French resistance group Honneur et Patrie [Honor and Homeland], sometimes using the pseudonym Le Normand. He became head of the information division. On September 19, 1943, Henri was arrested and imprisoned in Lafond. He was transferred to Fort du Ha, and then put on trial with a group of suspected resistance members by a German military court in Bordeaux. Nearly all were convicted and over twenty were executed in January 1944. Henri was imprisoned in Fresnes until April 6, 1944, when he was transferred to Natzweiler-Struthof concentration camp. The camp had been constructed in May 1941, 35 miles southwest of Strasbourg, in Alsace, near the German border. Many of the prisoners in Natzweiler were members of resistance movements in German-occupied nations, and were sent there as part of the Nacht und Nebel [Night and Fog] operation launched by the Germans to quell growing anti-German resistance. People suspected of being in the resistance were arrested and then disappeared, with no notification to their families. Henri was assigned prisoner number 11784. Drawing was forbidden, but Henri created sketches depicting the atrocities of daily life in the camp. The inmates worked under dangerous conditions in quarries, disease was prevalent, food rations were meager, and the guards were often violent. The main camp at Natzweiler was evacuated in early September 1944, due to the advance of Allied Forces who had liberated Paris on August 25. The prisoners were deported by train to concentration camps in Germany. Henri was sent to Dachau concentration camp which was liberated by US troops on April 30, 1945. Germany surrendered on May 7, 1945. Henri was able to return to France in late May, 1945.

    An edition of his works was published in France shortly after the war. Henri returned to teaching. He testified about the brutality of the camps at war crimes trials in the 1940s and 1950s. He wrote a history of the war, “Occupation, Resistance, Liberation in Charente-Maritime” published by the History Committee of the Second World War in 1973. Henri also designed the monument to the Resistance and Free French forces that was erected on the renamed Square Gayot in La Rochelle.
    Roger LaPorte was born (1906-?) in Orthez, France, to catholic parents, Michel and Louise Larouture LaPorte. Roger worked as a mathematics professor and lived in St. Etienne. He married Andreé Michaux in 1936, and the couple had two children. He was politically active in the mid to late 1930s. Roger joined the French military on August 23, 1939. On September 1, 1939, Germany invaded Poland, and two days later France and England declared war in retaliation. In May 1940, Germany began the invasion of Western Europe, and on June 22, France signed an armistice agreement with Germany. Roger’s military service ended on October 31, 1940. He later joined the United Resistance Movement. The German Security Police (Sipo) from Paris arrested Roger and other resistance group members during a meeting of the Secret Army, in St. Etienne on February 3, 1943, and detained him as a political prisoner. He was held in several different prisons before being transferred to Natzweiler-Struthof concentration camp along with several others from his group on July 12, 1943.

    The camp had been constructed in May 1941, 35 miles southwest of Strasbourg, in Alsace, near the German border. When Roger arrived at the train station near Struthof, he and other prisoners were hit violently by members of the SS. Many of the prisoners in Natzweiler were members of resistance movements in German-occupied nations, and were sent there as part of the Nacht und Nebel [Night and Fog] operation launched by the Germans to quell growing anti-German resistance. People suspected of or proven to be in the resistance were arrested and then disappeared, with no notification to their families. At the camp, Roger was assigned prisoner number 4502, and marked with a painted “X” and “NN” on the back of his striped uniform to indicate his prisoner status as Nacht and Nebel. In the camp, the men were beaten regularly and forced to do such difficult labor that many prisoners died within months of arriving, including all of Roger’s fellow prisoners from St. Etienne. In his first month, Roger was sent on a potato commando or detail, followed by time spent clearing stones and dirt from an area of the mountain to level it. He returned to Natzweiler in April 1944, where he was assigned to a working group dealing with clothing. This afforded him some safety on a daily basis and reinforced his position, and allowed him a small measure of power in the camp.

    The main camp at Natzweiler was evacuated in early September 1944, due to the advance of Allied Forces who had liberated Paris on August 25. The prisoners were deported by train to concentration camps in Germany. Roger was sent to Dachau concentration camp, and two days later he joined the Kommando d’Allach. In January 1945, he was assigned to Dachau subcamp Augsburg-Pfersee and worked on airplane parts. He contracted typhus and was sent to the infirmary. He recovered and returned to work on March 18, 1945. As allied forces approached, the camp was evacuated on April 22. Five days later, US forces liberated the prisoners. Germany surrendered on May 7, 1945. Roger returned to France and continued to teach mathematics.
    Manfred Hillmann (later Fred Hillman, 1921-2011) was born in Vienna, Austria, to Hermann (Hersch Chaim) and Klara (Chaya Sara) Wochenmarkt Hillmann. Hermann was born to Moses and Perl Hillmann in 1890, in Nadworna, Poland. Klara was born in 1896, in Mielec, Poland, to Lazar and Rivka Wochenmarkt. Hermann had four siblings. Dora married Kiva Feintuch, and immigrated to the United States in 1922, and Mina, married Harry Raksenberg (formerly Roxenberg), and also lived in the US. Josef married Shifra Sala Datner, and lived in Berlin, while Blima lived in Stanislawow, Poland, with their mother, Pearl. Hermann settled in Chemnitz, Germany, in 1914, just before World War I (1914-1918.) In 1920, he traveled to Vienna, where he met and married Klara. Hermann opened a wholesale hosiery business and the couple was active in Jewish organizations. Soon after Manfred was born, the family returned to Chemnitz. Manfred had two brothers born in Chemnitz: Max (Moshe), born in 1926, and Rolf (Reuben), born in 1930. All three boys were schooled in Jewish subjects and Manfred celebrated his Bar Mitzvah in December 1934.

    The Nazi dictatorship under Adolf Hitler was established in 1933, and Jews were subject to increasingly punitive treatment. In the fall of 1938, Germany expelled thousands of Jews with Polish citizenship, including Hermann and Manfred, who were deported on October 28. They went to Stanislawow, Poland, (Stanislavov, Ukraine) where Hermann’s family lived. In June 1939, Manfred received a permit to return to Chemnitz to sell the family possessions. Klara and the two young boys received an order to leave Germany by July 31, 1939. On July 29, Klara left with Max and Rolf for Stanislawow. At about the same time, Manfred was arrested by the Gestapo in Chemnitz. On September 1, 1939, Germany invaded Poland. Manfred was transferred to Buchenwald concentration camp on October 12, and assigned prisoner number 2648, used interchangeably with 8256. His parents were able to send him small sums of money and some food, and made efforts to get him released. After the June 1941, invasion of the Soviet Union by Germany, there was no more contact between Manfred and his immediate family.

    On March 12, 1942, Manfred was deported to Natzweiler-Struthof concentration camp in German-occupied France. Around the end of 1942, Manfred was deported to Auschwitz III - Monowitz concentration camp in German-occupied Poland as prisoner number 69787. He was hospitalized twice at Monowitz: July 22-July 30, 1943 and February 13-March 10, 1944. In January 1945, the camp was evacuated as Soviet forces neared. Manfred was marched to Gross Rosen concentration camp in Germany and then, on February 10, 1945, transferred to Buchenwald concentration camp. This time, he was issued prisoner number 129349. Manfred was liberated in Buchenwald by the American 6th Armored Division, part of the Third Army. Manfred was fluent in English, German, and Polish, and immediately started to work for the American Military Government in the US occupation zone in Germany. He officially resided in Zeilsheim displaced persons camp, but lived in Frankfurt am Main.

    He learned that his parents, brothers, and other relatives had been deported in April 1942, along with thousands of Stanislawow Jews, to Belzec killing center in German-occupied Poland, and murdered on arrival. In July 1945, with the assistance of Lawrence Koch, a US soldier, Manfred was able to notify his paternal uncle, Kiva Feintuch, in New York, of his survival. His uncle immediately responded via military mail and telegrams. On May 11, 1946, Manfred boarded the SS Marine Flasher in Bremerhaven, and arrived in New York on May 20. He settled in Lancaster, Ohio, where he opened a military surplus business. He officially changed his name to Fred Hillman during naturalization proceedings. He married Isis, and became a citizen of the United States on June 13, 1952.

    Physical Details

    Object Type
    Prints (lcsh)
    Physical Description
    Print of an engraving of a black and white sketch depicting a line of prisoners in flimsy shoes and striped caps and pants carrying large rocks in the foreground. On the left, the second-to-last man in line has collapsed to the ground and lays on his back, while a uniformed guard raises a rock above his head, likely the one the man was carrying, and prepares to drop it on him. The prisoners' uniforms bear several identifying patches and marks, including X’s and NN’s painted on the back. In the background, there are several steeply banked terraces, each with a set of stairs up the center and a large building at the right end. Approximately halfway up the hill of terraces, there is a line of prisoners pushing wheelbarrows across the center. Near the top, there is another line of prisoners moving in front of the guard tower. The image is at the center of a tan, heavyweight piece of paper with a 1.250 inch wide border. Printed within the image, in black ink, is the print number in the upper left corner and the artist's signature on the lower right. (1 vol. 8 p.: 15 prints, ill.; 27.5 cm; undated)
    overall: Height: 10.250 inches (26.035 cm) | Width: 13.375 inches (33.973 cm)
    overall : paper, ink

    Rights & Restrictions

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

    Keywords & Subjects

    Geographic Name
    Natzwiller (France) Germany.
    Personal Name
    Gayot, H.

    Administrative Notes

    The print was donated to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 2012 by Theodore Feintuch, the cousin of Fred Hillman.
    Record last modified:
    2022-08-03 11:31:29
    This page:

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