An Escape from Everyday Life in the Camp

Drawing gave the young Maria Brzęcka of Poland an escape from the agonizing realities of life in the Meuselwitz subcamp. Violence, vermin, hunger and forced labour to the point of exhaustion – the living conditions in the Buchenwald women’s camp were horrible.

The 14-year-old had no more than a tiny pencil and wastepaper from the armaments factory at her disposal. “I put myself in a different world.” A world of dignity, self-determination and grace. In her images she depicted her older fellow prisoners’ stories about life before the war. Theatre, opera, fashion – pleasures unattainable for the concentration camp inmates – were her subject matter. She also often drew glamorous figures of women, for example on 8 February 1945.

Maria, her mother and two sisters had been deported during the suppression of the Warsaw Uprising. They were sent to Auschwitz, Ravensbrück and, finally, Meuselwitz. All four survived and returned to Warsaw.

(Stefan Lochner)


Source: Maria Kosk (née Brzęcka), Aus den Schliessfächern der Erinnerung, manuscript, 1999 (Buchenwald Memorial).