Exhibition of drawings by boys who survived Buchenwald


A special exhibition opened at Burg Zug last Wednesday showing drawings done by boys who had survived the concentration camp at Buchenwald and who were brought to Zug to begin a long process of recuperation from their ordeal.

Buchenwald is such a lovely name, it means beech wood, but it will forever be associated with the horrors of a concentration camp, this one near Weimar in the province of Thuringia.

It was on 11 April 1945, a Wednesday, that the Americans freed surviving inmates at the camp and these included 374 children, Jews, who were able to come to Zug thanks to a Swiss charity to help the victims of war. They arrived in Rheinfelden in the canton of Argovia from where the girls were taken to Vaumarcus on the shores of Lake Neuchâtel, and the boys brought to the Felsenegg home on the Zugerberg. It was here they were given the opportunity to come to terms, if this is possible, with all they had experienced in the nightmare of the preceding years, from their initial deportation to the camp, to the horrors they experienced and saw while there.
It was at this home that the boys were able to enjoy their newly won freedom, whilst cared for and given lessons, too. Once they felt they had recovered sufficiently to leave, they were able to do so, some staying on in Switzerland.

One of the boys helped on the Zugerberg was Kalman Landau, who was only four years old when Hitler came to power in 1933. He was initially interned in Auschwitz before being transferred to Buchenwald, having previously been detained at the Gross Rosen concentration camp in Silesia. Thirty-nine of the drawings he did while at the Felsenegg home, all arranged chronologically, form part of this exhibition. They depict his initial deportation, everyday life in concentration camps, with people being hanged and tortured, and then disposed of in crematoria. Finally, the drawing of a bus features, the one which brought him to Switzerland, enabling him to start a new period in life. In addition to these and other drawings, archive film material shows the journey of the 374 children for the first time.

Speaking about the exhibition, Marco Sigg, the museum’s director, (on the left in the second photograph) said it was a welcome opportunity to remind people of the horrors of the concentration camps and to ensure the suffering of those involved is not forgotten.

For Manuel Fabritz, the curator (on the right), the exhibition is not just there so people do not forget what happened during this dark period of European history. “At a time when a movement to the Right is all too evident again, it is important to look back in history and learn from it. We must encourage people to turn away from racism, and for this you need courage,” he said.

The exhibition “Buchenwaldkinder” at Burg Zug at number 11 Kirchenstrasse continues until the end of March.
Further information can be found on www.burgzug.ch.    
 


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