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Jo Spier drawing of people with a wagon

Object | Accession Number: 2016.353.2

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    Jo Spier drawing of people with a wagon

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    Brief Narrative
    Ink and watercolor drawing created by Jo Spier while imprisoned in Theresienstadt ghetto-labor camp from June 1943-May 1945. It shows people gathered around a wagon. Spier, a Jewish artist from the Netherlands, was arrested for creating a satirical cartoon of Hitler in 1943 and deported to Theresienstadt in German occupied Czechoslovakia with his wife and three children. They returned to Amsterdam after May 9, 1945, when the camp was liberated by Soviet forces.
    Artwork Title
    Gathering at a wagon, Theresienstadt, 1944
    creation:  1944
    depiction:  1944
    creation: Theresienstadt (Concentration camp); Terezin (Ustecky kraj, Czech Republic)
    depiction: Theresienstadt (Concentration camp); Terezin (Ustecky kraj, Czech Republic)
    Credit Line
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of the Pick Family
    lower right
    Artist: Jo (Joseph) Spier
    Joseph (Jo) Eduard Adolf Spier was born on June 26, 1900, in Zutphen, Netherlands, to a Jewish couple, Isedore (1873-1956) and Celina Elias (1877-1919) Spier. He had two brothers: Eduard Jacob (1902-1980) and Frederik Lodewijk (Fritz) (1907-1945). Jo was an artist and illustrator. In 1919, he moved to Amsterdam after receiving his degree. In 1923, he moved to Paris to continue his education, but returned to Amsterdam in 1924 and began working for the newspaper De Telegraaf. On April 23, 1925, he married Albertine Sophie Van Raalte (1907-1988). They had three children: Peter, born 1927, Celine, born 1929, and Thomas, born 1931.

    On May 10, 1940, Germany occupied the Netherlands. In October, Jo was fired from De Telegraaf because he was Jewish. Jo’s work became more political. He was arrested three times between 1940 and 1942. In 1943, Jo was arrested for creating a satirical cartoon of Hitler and was sent to Westerbork transit camp, where he painted a mural in the children’s hospital. Jo and his family were briefly protected from being deported by Jo’s acquaintance Anton Mussert, head of the local National Socialist Movement. His wife Albertine and their children were held in Villa Bouchina, a small privileged camp in Doetinchem, where Jo eventually joined them. On April 21, 1943, the family was deported to Theresienstadt ghetto-labor camp in German occupied Czechoslovakia. Jo worked in the Werkstatte fur Kunstgewerbe und Gebrauchsmalerei (Workshop for Arts and Crafts and Utility Painting). He created propaganda drawings of Theresienstadt and created the artwork for the commemorative album Bilder aus Theresienstadt (Images from Theresienstadt), given as a souvenir to Nazi leaders. When the Red Cross visited in June 1944, Jo was passed off as a representative of Dutch Jews. He worked on the 1944 propaganda film The Fuhrer Gives the Jews a City. Germany surrendered on May 7, 1945. On May 9, Theresienstadt was liberated by Soviet forces.

    The family returned to the Netherlands. They learned that Jo’s father, Isedore, and brother, Eduard, survived, while his youngest brother, Fritz, was killed in Bergen-Belsen on March 20, 1945. Jo worked for a magazine and wrote a book. In October 1951, Jo immigrated to the United States. His family joined him in 1953 and they settled in New York. Jo, 77, passed away on May 21, 1978.

    Physical Details

    Physical Description
    Drawing in ink and watercolor on paper of a group of men and women gathered around a wagon outside the entrance to a building. It is adhered to light brown cardboard.
    pictorial area: Height: 7.875 inches (20.003 cm) | Width: 6.250 inches (15.875 cm)
    overall: Height: 11.000 inches (27.94 cm) | Width: 8.750 inches (22.225 cm)
    overall : paper, ink, watercolor

    Rights & Restrictions

    Conditions on Access
    No restrictions on access
    Conditions on Use
    Restrictions on use. Copyright status unknown.

    Keywords & Subjects

    Personal Name
    Spier, Jo, 1900-1978.

    Administrative Notes

    The watercolor was donated to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 2016 by Erika Seguin and Angela Greenway for the Pick family.
    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:
    2023-09-15 10:14:28
    This page:

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