• ”Kunst aus dem Todeslager”
  • ”L’Art dans les camps”

Director: Manfred van Eijk / The Netherlands 2022
Category: Art/Culture, History
Production: Erica Reijmerink, Harold Lamme: Sarphati Media Producties B.V.

Produced for MDR in cooperation with ARTE, ORF, ČT.

Language: English, German, Czech, Polish

Subtitles: English
Length: 52 minutes

This documentary is a testimonial about the human spirit despite the terrors of war.   

The documentary “Greetings from the death camps” is a unique journey that takes the viewer to the former concentration camp Buchenwald, Mauthausen, Theresienstadt and Auschwitz. What do these camps have in common? While the destruction and devastating images are imprinted in our brain and is still very present, there is a completely different similarity between these locations in Germany, Austria, the Czech Republic and Poland.

A similarity that is inspiring as well since is shows the story of human resilience. Despite being surrounded by the most horrible and cruel elements of war everywhere art has been made by the prisoners; drawings, carvings, paintings and music. Sometimes by order of the Nazi’s, sometimes in the greatest secrecy, so illegal. Even in times where life was impossible the resilience of men is unbelievably impressive.



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Director's Statement:
When I was working on a film on the preservation of the camp at former concentration camp Auschwitz a few years ago, I saw striking drawings and paintings in the archives. I wondered who had made them. Guards, staff, the SS? No, it was made by prisoners, some of whom had been forced and some of whom had made many thousands of sketches, paintings, figurines and pieces of music in the deepest secrecy.
Further research in other camps revealed that prisoners had created many thousands of drawings, jewelry, compositions and even fairy tale books for their children. How was such a thing possible? How could art still be made under the appalling conditions in a concentration camp?
Sometimes pieces of music and camp songs were dedicated to prisoners by the SS. They had no choice. But very often anything was made to escape the daily horror for a while. Or something was drawn to inform the outside world what was going on in the concentration camp.The incredible amount of art, from children's books to wall paintings, prompted me to make a film about
this. Soon, there won't be many survivors left to tell about this dark period. But there are still books, films and interviews, and the art of the prisoners can be added to that, as a creative cry for help in colour and sound.
Manfred van Eijk