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Portrait of a Czech political prisoner in the Dachau concentration camp.

Photograph | Digitized | Photograph Number: 99228

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    Portrait of a Czech political prisoner in the Dachau concentration camp.
    Portrait of a Czech political prisoner in the Dachau concentration camp.


    Portrait of a Czech political prisoner in the Dachau concentration camp.
    Karel Kasak
    1940 - 1944
    Dachau, [Bavaria] Germany
    Photo Credit
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, courtesy of Maria Seidenberger

    Rights & Restrictions

    Photo Source
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
    Copyright: United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
    Provenance: Maria Seidenberger
    Source Record ID: Collections: 2010.511.1

    Keywords & Subjects

    Administrative Notes

    Maria Seidenberger is the second child of Georg and Katharina Seidenberger. She was born on July 6, 1927 and grew up in Hebertshausen where her father was a bee keeper. The town is near Munich on the outskirts of Dachau. The family was Catholic, had Social Democratic sympathies and was anti-Nazi. During the war Maria worked in a photo lab in Munich. There she made and saved copies of atrocity photos taken by private German soldiers. In 1943 she made the acquaintance of Karel Kasak, a Czech prsioner who was assigned to take photographs of flowers in the gardens right outside the main entrance to Dachau. He took advantage of his position to also photograph other prisoners and needed a safe place to hide his photos. Having learned that Maria worked in a photo lab, he asked if she would hide his clandestine photos. She also secretly stored Dachau prisoner photos and letters in her family's beehive and mailed them to the prisoner's relatives back in Czechoslovakia. Furthermore, she even hid the personal papers and human remains (a heart and death mask) of Masryk's personal archivist, Jaroslav Simsov, who died of typhus in Dachau.

    Near her house is a small memorial on the side of the road, a shooting site where many Soviet POWs were shot sometime in 1942-44. Maria explained how she and her mother heard the constant noise of the gun firing in her house during the day and stood frozen over the kitchen sink sobbing, knowing that each bullet meant the death of a person. On a Sunday Maria and Kasak, searched for the site where the Soviet POWs were buried and found the mass grave. Maria went to the mass grave site to establish that mass murder had indeed happened and photographed the site. She gave her negatives to the Czech prisoner, Karel Kasak. During the final weeks of the war, Maria photographed the death march from Buchenwald to Dachau from inside her home in Hebertshausen. One photograph shows her mother distributing potatoes to the prisoners. After the war, Maria accompanied Kasak back to Czechoslovakia before returning to Hebertshausen in 1959.

    [Source: Wendy Lower: Interview with Maria Seidenberger, June 2010 and Dachau Preis fuer Zivilcourage citation, 2005.]
    Record last modified:
    2010-09-22 00:00:00
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