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Watercolor of a female corpse by an inmate given to a liberator of Bergen Belsen concentration camp

Object | Accession Number: 2004.570.1

Full-length portrait of a dead female inmate painted by 24 year old Marianne (Mausi) Grant and presented to Major Charles Philip Sharp, a liberator of Bergen Belsen concentration camp, in May 1945 as he prepared to depart. Sharp wrote about it in his diary, USHMM collection 2005.20.1: "Marianne, the little Czeck artist presented us with a picture of a body in No 1 "To the Commandant so that he will never forget Belsen" --as though I could. She used to do cartoons and gay pictures before she was taken--now see what she does. We are using her as a signwriter so she apologized that this drawing was not as detailed as she would have liked it to be, but nevertheless it brings back the atmosphere at once. Put it in a tube and shall take it home." Mausi had spent three years in other concentration camps before arriving at Bergen Belsen on April 5, 1945. In 1942, she was imprisoned in Theresienstadt, and then in Auschwitz-Birkenau, where she was placed in a slave labor battalion. Finally, she was transported to Belsen where she immediately began to document the horrors of camp life. Sharp was one the first four British officers to enter Bergen Belsen concentration camp on April 17, 1945, after its liberation by a British advance unit on April 15. This team was charged with establishing order at the camp which had roughly 60,000 inmates, most extremely ill. Their first act was to arrest the commandant, Kramer, who was later executed for his crimes. The Germans had negotiated a truce to transfer the camp to the British because of fears that the desperate conditions would lead to a typhus epidemic throughout Europe. Sharp's unit was selected for this duty because received double inoculations for typhus. Sharp was tasked with counting the number of dead and arranging the daily burials of nearly 10,000 inmates. After their arrival, disease continued to kill 300 inmates daily. Sharp later assisted in the maternity ward. He was stationed at Belsen for five weeks, His final duty was to order the destruction of the camp and the burning of the barracks. He then was placed on occupational duty south of Hanover where he presented illustrated lectures on the atrocities he had witnessed at Bergen Belsen. He reflected on the routine answer from the Germans he encountered that they could not be responsible for things about which they knew nothing. Philip’s position was that “Atrocity Guilt like War Guilt is not the monopoly of a few. In a less degree the rest of the world is guilty – only the inmates of the concentration camps are innocent.”

Artwork Title
In Memory of Belsen, April 1945.
Date
1945 April  (creation)
1945 April  (depiction)
1945 April  (received)
Geography
depiction : Bergen-Belsen (Concentration camp); Belsen (Bergen, Celle, Germany)
creation : Bergen-Belsen (Concentration camp); Belsen (Bergen, Celle, Germany)
Language
English
Classification
Art
Category
Paintings
Credit Line
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Peter Stevens
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Record last modified: 2018-01-11 14:22:46
This page: https://collections.ushmm.org/search/catalog/irn522409