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Watercolor created by Karl Schwesig postwar based on his experiences in an internment camp

Object | Accession Number: 1988.5.10

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    Watercolor created by Karl Schwesig postwar based on his experiences in an internment camp

    Overview

    Brief Narrative
    Ink wash drawing created by Karl Schwesig in 1948 in Dusseldorf. The drawing depicts the hospital in Noe internment camp in France, where Schwesig was held from February to March 1941. After Hitler came to power in January 1933, Schwesig, a Communist, was arrested and imprisoned for 16 months. After his release in 1935, he lived in Antwerp, Belgium. On May 10, 1940, Germany invaded Belgium. Schwesig was arrested and sent to Vichy France, where he was held in St. Cyprien, Gurs, Noe, and Nexon internment camps. In 1943, he was sent to Ulmer Hoeh prison in Dusseldorf, where he was liberated by American forces in April 1945.
    Artwork Title
    Lazarett im Camp de Noé
    Alternate Title
    Hospital in Camp Noe
    Date
    creation:  1948
    Geography
    creation: Dusseldorf (Germany)
    depiction: Noe (Concentration camp); Noe (France)
    Credit Line
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection
    Signature
    front, lower left corner, black ink : Karl Schwesig
    Contributor
    Artist: Karl Schwesig
    Subject: Karl Schwesig
    Biography
    Karl Schwesig was born on June 19, 1898, in Gelsenkirchen, Germany. His father was a miner. From 1916 to 1918, Schwesig served in the German Army during the First World War (1914-1918). In 1918, Schwesig began studying at the Academy of Fine Arts in Dusseldorf. In 1921, he left the conservative academy and joined the Junge Rhineland artist group. In 1924, Schwesig cofounded the satirical magazine Die Peitsche (The Whip). The right wing Nazi Party was growing rapidly in popularity duirng the 1920s and Schwesig was an outspoken anti-Nazi. He joined the Communist Party in the late 1920’s.

    Hitler came to power in Germany in January 1933 and the country was soon ruled by a Nazi dictatorship. On July 11, 1933, Schwesig was arrested for his anti-Nazi commentary. He was detained by the SA and interrogated for the names of colleagues who also resisted the Nazis. He was sent to Ulmer Höhe prison in Dusseldorf. In 1934, he was convicted of treason and served his sentence in Bendahl prison in Wuppertal. After his release on November 18, 1934, Schwesig was granted political asylum in Belgium and lived in Antwerp. In 1937, his German citizenship was revoked and his property in Germany was confiscated by the Nazi regime.

    On May 10, 1940, Germany invaded Belgium. Schwesig was arrested and deported to St. Cyprien internment camp in Vichy France. In October, he was moved to Gurs internment camp after St. Cyprien was destroyed by flooding. In February 1941, he was transferred to Noé internment camp. In March 1943, he was sent to Nexon internment camp and classified as a politcal prisoner. In June, Schwesig was sent to Fort Romainville prison in Paris and in July to Ulmer Höhe prison in Dusseldorf. Throughout his imprisonment, Schwesig drew images of daily life in the camps. Schwesig was liberated in Ulmer Höhe after American forces captured Dusseldorf on April 17, 1945. The war ended when Germany surrendered on May 7. Schwesig stayed in Dusseldorf. He died, age 57, in 1955.

    Physical Details

    Language
    German
    Classification
    Art
    Category
    Paintings
    Physical Description
    Ink wash drawing on light brown paper depicting 5 men in a camp infirmary. Three older men stand in the foreground. The man on the right has a wrinkled face, a large nose, and receding hair, and is wearing a dark shirt and striped pants. He is walking forward and leaning on a cane, facing the man on the left, who offers him a hand. The man on the left has thin legs and a gaunt face and is wearing a jacket and shorts. Behind them stands a third man, who is balding and has a wrinkled face and sunken cheeks. On the right, an emaciated man with very thin legs in sitting up in a cot, which is angled to the right. He is bald and has a wrinkled face and a dark beard. On the left, a man is lying in a cot, covered with a blanket. His head is tipped back and he has a gaunt face with sunken cheeks. There are shelves on the wall behind the cots. The drawing is shaded with gray wash. The title, artist’s name, and an inscription are written above the lower edge.
    Dimensions
    overall: Height: 19.750 inches (50.165 cm) | Width: 25.375 inches (64.453 cm)
    Materials
    overall : paper, paint, ink
    Inscription
    front, lower right corner, black ink : Lazarett im Camp de Noé (H.G.) [Hospital in Camp of Noé]
    front, lower left corner, pencil : XXV / für Arthur Kaufmann / bei seinem Besuch in Düsseldorf 1954 [for Arthur Kaufmann during his visit to Düsseldorf 1954]
    back, lower center, black ink : I82 – H.K.

    Rights & Restrictions

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

    Keywords & Subjects

    Administrative Notes

    Provenance
    The watercolor painting was acquired by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 1988.
    Record last modified:
    2022-07-28 18:28:31
    This page:
    https:​/​/collections.ushmm.org​/search​/catalog​/irn513894

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