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Aquarelle of a gated internment camp path by a Russian Jewish inmate

Object | Accession Number: 2003.462.1 a-b

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    Aquarelle of a gated internment camp path by a Russian Jewish inmate


    Brief Narrative
    Aquarelle created by Jacques Gotko in 1942 of a gate and barracks at Compiegne internment camp in France where he was a prisoner from July 1941- July 1943. Germany invaded France in May 1940. After the June armistice, the Germans occupied the north and western regions. In 1941, the Germans began rounding up Jewish residents who were not born in France. Gotko, a painter and native of Russia, was arrested in Paris as a foreign born Jew in July 1941 and interned in Compiegne. He drew scenes of the camp and the daily activities of the inmates. In 1942, the Germans began to systematically deport foreign born Jews to concentration camps in the east. Gotko was transferred to Drancy transit camp in Paris. On July 31, 1943, he was sent to Auschwitz where he died of typhus shortly after his arrival.
    Artwork Title
    Front Stalag 122, Compiegne, 1942
    creation:  1942
    depiction:  1942
    creation: Compiegne (Concentration camp); Compiegne (France)
    depiction: Compiegne (Concentration camp); Compiegne (France)
    Credit Line
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection
    front, lower right corner, black ink : Front Stalag 122 / Compiegne 1942 / Gotko
    Artist: Jacques Gotko
    Subject: Jacques Gotko
    Yankeli Gotkovski (1899-1944, later Jacques Gotko) was born in Odessa, in the Russian Empire (now Ukraine). Fleeing anti-Semitic pogroms, his family immigrated to Paris, France, in 1905. In Paris, Gotko’s father worked as a steelworker in a Fiat plant until 1913, when he died unexpectedly. Gotko studied painting, architecture, and stage design for theatre and film at the École des Beaux-Arts. After graduation he worked as an art director and set designer, and exhibited paintings in the Salon d'Automne, the Salon des Indépendants and the Gallerie Jeanne Castelle. On September 1, 1939, Germany invaded Poland and two days later, France and Britain declared war on Germany. In May 1940, Germany conquered France and occupied the northern half of the country. In 1941, the Germans began rounding up foreign born Jewish residents. In July, all of Gotko’s work in his studio was destroyed, and he was arrested and sent to Compiègne internment camp. In the camp Gotko continued to paint watercolors, draw pencil sketches, and create linocuts of life in the camp and sent his earnings from portrait commissions to his wife who was not Jewish. In 1942, the Germans began to systematically deport foreign born Jews to concentration camps in the east. In September, Gotko was transferred to Drancy internment and transit camp. In Drancy he reunited with his mother and sister who had been arrested near his home in Bordeaux. In November, Gotko’s mother and sister were deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp in German-occupied Poland. On July 18, 1943, Gotko was deported to Auschwitz on transport 57. Upon arrival he was selected for forced labor and tattooed with prisoner number 130612. Gotko died of typhus on January 2, 1944, in Auschwitz.

    Physical Details

    Physical Description
    a. Aquarelle with ink on paper with an outdoor scene of a camp entrance with an open A-framed wooden gate covered with brown and black barbed wire. To the left is a dirt path into the camp, with a smaller gray version of the gate to the left. On the grass in the right foreground are loose barbed wire coils. In the left background, a high barbed wire fence with tall poles extends into the distance. There is a grass strip outside the fence on the left, and a row of wooden peaked roof barracks inside on the right. The sky is filled with white swirling clouds washed with streaks of blue and pink/brown. It is signed and dated in the lower right corner.
    b. Rectangular, gilt, beveled wooden frame with glass pane.
    a: Height: 10.125 inches (25.718 cm) | Width: 13.125 inches (33.338 cm)
    b: Height: 11.250 inches (28.575 cm) | Width: 15.000 inches (38.1 cm) | Depth: 0.500 inches (1.27 cm)
    a : watercolor, paper, ink
    b : wood, glass, paint, metal

    Rights & Restrictions

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

    Keywords & Subjects

    Administrative Notes

    The watercolor painting was acquired by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 2003.
    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:
    2022-09-09 13:19:42
    This page:

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