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Black and white linocut print of the Compiègne internment camp created by Jacques Gotko

Object | Accession Number: 2018.337.2

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    Black and white linocut print of the Compiègne internment camp created by Jacques Gotko
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    Overview

    Brief Narrative
    Linocut print of a yard in the Compiègne internment camp in German-occupied France created by artist Jacques Gotko in 1942. The print was acquired by George Waldman, who was held in Compiègne from December 1941 to July 1943. George, Betsy, and their teenage son, John, were American citizens who lived in Paris to manage their paper import-export business. In response to the German invasion of Poland, France declared war on Germany on September 3, 1939. In May of 1940, Germany invaded and quickly defeated France, occupying the northern half of the country. In 1941, the Germans began rounding up foreign born Jewish residents. Gotko, a native of the Soviet Union, was arrested in Paris in July 1941 and detained in Compiègne internment camp. In the camp Gotko painted watercolors, drew pencil sketches, and created linocuts of life in the camp and sent his earnings from portrait commissions to his wife. On December 12, 1941, a day after Germany declared war on the United States, George Waldman was arrested and detained at Compiègne as an enemy alien and later joined his wife and son in Vittel internment camp. In 1942, the Germans began to deport foreign born Jews to concentration camps in the east. In September, Gotko was transferred to Drancy internment and transit camp where he was reunited with his mother and sister. In November, his mother and sister were deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp in German-occupied Poland. On July 18, 1943, Gotko was deported to Auschwitz, given prisoner number 130612, and was selected for forced labor. Gotko died of typhus on January 2, 1944, in Auschwitz.
    Title
    Stalag 122 Compiegne
    Alternate Title
    Main Camp 122 Compiegne
    Date
    creation:  1942 January-1942 September
    Geography
    depiction: Compiegne (Concentration camp); Compiegne (France)
    Credit Line
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Deborah Pearson and Janet Waldman
    Markings
    front, bottom left, handwritten, pencil : 22/120
    front, bottom center, handwritten, pencil : Front-Stalag 122 / Compiegne
    Signature
    front, bottom, right, handwritten, pencil : gotko 1942
    Contributor
    Subject: George L. Waldman
    Artist: Jacques Gotko
    Subject: Jacques Gotko
    Biography
    George Louis Waldman (1890-1972, b. Jules Chazanoff) was born in Stepan, in the Russian Empire (now, Ukraine) to Boroch (1856-1941) and Bella Spelman Waldman (1860-1949). George had 3 younger brothers and a younger sister. In 1910 he immigrated to the United States via Montreal, Canada, on the Allen Train Line. George worked as a plumber before starting a paper import-export business. He married Betsy Stackowitz (1898-1970) on March 28, 1917 in Boston Massachusetts. Betsy was born in London, England, and immigrated to the United States in 1906. They had two sons, Milton Albert Waldman (1918-2002) and John Robert Waldman (1928-1973). As part of their paper business, the Waldmans established an office in Paris, and split their time living in France and the U.S. At the onset of World War II George, Betsy, and John were staying in France.

    On September 1, 1939, Germany invaded Poland and two days later, France and Britain declared war on Germany. In May 1940, Germany invaded France and occupied the northern half of the country. After the conquest, the Germans did not bother American citizens living in France, including the Waldman family, despite their Jewish heritage. Jewish citizens from the United States and western enemy states were exempted from the German anti-Semitic policies because of their potential prisoner exchange value during the war. On December 11, 1941, four days after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Germany declared war on the United States. The next day, George was arrested and detained in Compiègne internment camp as an enemy alien. While in Compiègne George lived in military style barracks. On January 11, 1943, Betsy and John were arrested and detained at Vittel internment camp. In July, George was removed from Compiègne, taken to Vittel, and reunited with his family. In Vittel, the Waldman’s had hotel-like accommodations with running water and heat. They were able to send and receive mail, and received weekly Red Cross packages. The Germans published propaganda photos and press stories about Vittel to showcase it as representative of conditions in German camps.

    On September 12, 1944, the Vittel internment camp was liberated by Free French forces. The Waldmans returned to Paris, and found their business had been sold to a Frenchman, and their home had been used by the Germans. George was able to secure the return of the business and their home. The family returned to Boston on the SS James Price in October 1945. Upon returning home, George, Betsy, and John learned that Milton had joined the army and fought in the Pacific Theater against the Empire of Japan. Even though they were in contact with him during their internment, Milton did not want to worry them so he kept his service a secret until their return. One of George’s younger brothers, Isaac, was deported from Drancy transit camp in France to Auschwitz-Birkenau killing center in German-occupied Poland on June 22, 1942. He died in Auschwitz on July 23, 1942.
    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

    Language
    French German
    Classification
    Art
    Category
    Prints
    Object Type
    Prints (lcsh)
    Genre/Form
    Prints.
    Physical Description
    Black and white linocut print on very thin, off white, lightweight paper adhered to a large paper window mat. The image depicts the snow covered yard of Compiègne prison camp in France. Two pairs of figures and a lone figure with a cane are all dressed in black and standing in the yard. The back of the yard has a large black watchtower in the center with a row of shorter snow covered gable roofed buildings behind. In the foreground, on the left, is an open walled pavilion. Handwritten in pencil along the bottom margin is the series number, title, signature, and date. Approximately 1.5” of the top and bottom edges of the window mat are folded over the front. The print is adhered along the top edge to the frame and an undersized medium weight paper backing is adhered at the top left corner to the print. The paper is yellowed and discolored from age and the backing paper has a vertical crease down the middle. The backing paper has black and green dirt and smudge marks throughout.
    Dimensions
    overall: Height: 8.125 inches (20.638 cm) | Width: 11.000 inches (27.94 cm)
    pictorial area: Height: 5.125 inches (13.018 cm) | Width: 6.625 inches (16.828 cm)
    Materials
    overall : paper, ink, pencil, adhesive
    Inscription
    front, top right, handwritten, pencil : [illegible]

    Rights & Restrictions

    Conditions on Access
    No restrictions on access
    Conditions on Use
    Restrictions on use. The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum does not own copyright to this material. No information about the copyright was included on the Deed of Gift.

    Keywords & Subjects

    Geographic Name
    Paris (France) Poland.

    Administrative Notes

    Provenance
    The print was donated to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 2018 by Deborah Pearson, the daughter of John Waldman and the granddaughter of George and Betsy Waldman.
    Record last modified:
    2023-12-15 15:03:46
    This page:
    https:​/​/collections.ushmm.org​/search​/catalog​/irn619220

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