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Autobiographical drawing of a forced laborer at a hydroelectric plant by a young Jewish soldier, 2nd Polish Corps

Object | Accession Number: 2012.471.75

Illustration created by 24 year old Edward Herzbaum in Italy in 1944 of a memorable encounter he had when he was an inmate in a Soviet forced labor camp in 1941. The drawing depicts the hydroelectric plant and reservoir in Szeksna (now Rybinsk, Russia) where Edward worked on a boat pump. He often went to the pier to swim. This day, August 27, 1941, he watched unseen as a young female laborer washed herself, then cried briefly, before noticing and reacting to his presence. See 2012.471.74 and.76 for other versions. It was drawn in 1943-1944 when his unit, the 2nd Polish Corps, was training with the British Army in the Middle East. Edward, 19, left Łódź, Poland, shortly after Germany occupied the country in September 1939 to stay with family in Soviet controlled Lvov. In June 1940, Edward was arrested by Soviet security police and exiled to a forced labor camp. Germany invaded the Soviet Union in June 1941. Edward was released as part of an amnesty granted to Polish prisoners. He headed south to join the Polish Army of the East, known as Anders Army. In August 1942, the unit left Soviet territory and became the 2nd Polish Corps in the British Army. In February 1944, they deployed to join the 8th British Army in the Italian Campaign. They fought their way north and were in Italy in May 1945 when the war ended. Edward learned that his mother had died in the Łódź Ghetto in 1943. He resumed the study of architecture in Rome until the British decided to allow Polish Corps veterans to immigrate to England in October 1946. He then worked for two years with the Polish Resettlement Corps and completed his degree.

Artwork Title
This was a serious affair II, August 27, 1941, Soviet Union
creation:  1944
depiction:  1941 August 27
creation: Italy
depiction: Shcherbakov (USSR) historic; Rybinsk (IAroslavskaia oblast, Russia)
Object Type
Ink drawings (tgm)
Credit Line
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Krystyna Mew
Record last modified: 2023-08-25 12:47:47
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