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Portfolio

Object | Accession Number: 2004.323.13

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    Overview

    Brief Narrative
    Portfolio of rotogravure prints of 24 drawings by George (Jerzy) Zielezinski depicting scenes he witnessed of daily life and death as a prisoner in German concentration camps from 1943-1945. The set includes a portfolio cover, a folded insert with an essay about the prints, and 24 individual reproductions. After his emigration to the US in 1949, sets were sold by the American Friends Service Committee to raise funds for Zielezinski's support. Zielezinski, a Polish Catholic, was arrested in March 1943 in Warsaw by the German occupation authorities for political activity. He was sent to Auschwitz and, in January 1944, to Flossenbürg. In mid-April 1945, as Allied troops approached, the SS began evacuations, sending prisoners to Dachau on trains and via death marches. After liberation on April 29, 1945, Jerzy was hospitalized and while recovering he made finished drawings of camp life and atrocities, based upon the sketches he made secretly on scraps of paper in the camps. He then lived in Schwandorf and Munich displaced persons camp, until gong to America. The portfolio was acquired by Dixie Foster, presumably when she worked as a civilian court reporter during the US War Crimes Tribunal at the former Dachau concentration camp in Germany, also known as the Dachau war crimes trials. The trials were conducted by the US Army in the American postwar occupation zone from November 1945 to August 1948.
    Title
    24 drawings from the concentration camps in Germany
    Date
    publication:  1946
    Geography
    publication: Munich (Germany)
    Credit Line
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Gretchen Davenport
    Contributor
    Artist: George Zielezinski
    Subject: George Zielezinski
    Publisher: F. Bruckmann, KG Munich
    Printer: F. Bruckmann, KG Munich
    Biography
    Jerzy Zielezinski was born on March 28, 1914, in Lowicz, Poland, to Catholic parents, Josepha and Stanislau Zielezinski. He had a sister Helena and other siblings. Jerzy was a painter. Nazi Germany invaded Poland on September 1, 1939. His father was killed by the Germans for refusing an order. Jerzy was sent to the Warsaw ghetto which was established by the Germans in October 1941. On March 23, 1943, he was arrested for political activity. In early May, Jerzy was transported to Auschwitz concentration camp as a political prisoner. He was assigned prisoner number 119517. In January 1944, Jerzy was transferred to Flossenbürg concentration camp and assigned number 4817. While interned, Jerzy was severely beat by a guard and lost the hearing in one ear. When the doctor who treated him learned that he was an artist, he gave Jerzy some paper and charcoal. Jerzy begin secretly creating sketches of the scenes he witnessed in the camp. When the guards learned that Jerzy was an artist, he was able to improve his situation at the camp by drawing birthday and Christmas cards for them. Between April 15-20, 1945, as Allied forces approached, the SS began to evacuate the camp, sending prisoners by train and forced march toward Dachau concentration camp. Jerzy was at Dachau when the camp was liberated on April 23 by American troops. Jerzy then went to Schwandorf displaced persons camp. He was hospitalized in a DP hospital from September - December 1945. While recuperating, Jerzy used his sketches as the basis for finished drawings of concentration camp scenes. In January 1946, he relocated to Munich DP camp. Jerzy's first wife, who was Jewish, had been sent from Poland to Germany as a forced laborer. She was killed during a bombing raid. He Americanized his name to George. Two books of his drawings of ghetto and concentration camp life were published in 1946: K.Z. Album, which visualized his experiences in Warsaw Ghetto, and 24 drawings from concentration camps in Germany.

    On April 5, 1949, he sailed with his wife, Elsie, who was born in 1922 in Czechoslovakia, from Hamburg to Boston on the SS Marine Flasher. He changed his name to George Ziel and settled in New York. The American Friends Service Committee in Philadelphia sold signed sets of his portfolio, 24 drawings from concentration camps in Germany, to help George, who was then working as a dishwasher in New York City. His wife was a nurse. In 1956, he became a naturalized citizen. By 1954, George had begun a successful career as a commercial artist. He was well known for his covers for pulp fiction paperbacks, especially Gothic romance and mystery titles. He was a member of the Society of Illustrators. Elsie died in 1981. George, 67, died on February 28, 1982, in Connecticut.

    Physical Details

    Physical Description
    Portfolio ; [4] p., 24 plates in portfolio : ill. ; 41 cm. (plates: 15.625 x 11.750 n. (40 x 30 cm.)
    "In rotogravure."
    Introduction in English; Contents page and captions in English, French, German, and Polish.
    Contents:
    1. Transport
    2. The New Arrival
    3. Before the Bath
    4. I am Hungry
    5. Night-Shift
    6. When will it be my turn?
    7. Foreman
    8. Punishment
    9. Suicide
    10. "If only..."
    11. Work is liberty
    12. Garroted
    13. Delirium
    14. Shadows on the Square
    15. The Capo
    16. I am cold
    17. The Women's roll call
    18. The Hospital
    19. Small Criminals
    20. The Prominents
    21. The Shot
    22. To the Wire!
    23. Evacuation
    24. Strange Incident
    Multiple copies, including a digital version, are held by the Museum.
    Inscription
    front, lower left corner, on label, hand printed, blue ink : This BeLongs / To / Dixie Foster / 3653 N. 6th Ave / Phx. AZ.

    Rights & Restrictions

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

    Keywords & Subjects

    Personal Name
    Zielezinski, George.

    Administrative Notes

    Provenance
    The portfolio was donated to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 2004 by Gretchen Davenport, the great-niece of Dixie Foster.
    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:
    2022-07-28 18:11:51
    This page:
    https:​/​/collections.ushmm.org​/search​/catalog​/irn521977

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