Ravensbruck prisoner art, gifts from women who had nothing.

One of the most poignant things about researching for my novel Lilac Girls, has been learning about the lovely handmade art and gifts the Ravensbruck prisoners made for each other.

DSC_0314Most were handmade in secret, since many of the gifts were created with “organized” or stolen scraps (and even precious bread, in the case of the rosary beads some of the women made) and exchanging gifts was a punishable offense. This is just one case of many displayed at The Ravensbruck Memorial.


This photo is from The Museum of Martyrdom Under the Clock in Lublin Poland, a must-see for anyone interested in the story of the Polish “Rabbits.” The amount of detailed work that went into each of the handcrafted gifts seen at the museum is a testament to the fierce loyalty and love the prisoners had for each other.


This gift, a tiny writing desk (c. 1940) is complete with prisoner number, a low number meaning the recipient had been a prisoner since the earliest days of the camp. The caption reads: A desk made ​​by a prisoner of KL Ravensbrück for Camilla Janowicz, Ravensbruck 40 years of the twentieth century


A cross and little  carrying case monogrammed with “W” made by Z. Pocilowskq for Wojciechy Buraczyński-Zelske.


“Portrait of a girl.” Drawing by unknown Ravensbrück prisoner. Ravensbrücker Zeichnungen. © MGR/S8G. (Original in archive of MGR/S8G.)According to The Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies at The University Of Minnesota, “Statistics from incomplete ledgers regarding children suggest that 882 children were deported to Ravensbrück… Most of these children, like others before them, were then sent on to other camps and did not survive.” I know of three that survived but there may be more.

newyearcard-1“New Year Card.” Drawing by Aat Breur. Courtesy of Dunya Breuer. (Original in Archive of Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, Netherlands.)

artifactsArtifacts given to Julia Terwilliger by Anna Marie Berentsen-Droog. Gift of Bert Alan Terwilliger to Florida Holocaust Museum. Love the little dog!


Doll made by Ravensbrück prisoner. Courtesy of MGR/SBG andhttp://chgs.umn.edu/museum/exhibitions/ravensbruck/spiritualResistance.html.


˛Such a beautiful card. ˇThe rabbit (“królik” in Polish language or “guinea pig” in English) is the symbol of a person on whom medical experiments were conducted in Ravensbruck KL. (Translators’ comment). The postcard was made for Jadwiga Dzido by her fellow-inmate.

Translation: “Jadzinko – dearest rabit, I wish You the star and the new-born Jesus bring you health and the hope for returning home.  From: http://individual.utoronto.ca/jarekg/Ravensbruck/Art.html




One of my favorite illustrations, a lovely card sent to one of the victims of the experiments, featuring a rabbit with bandaged leg.



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