KZ Mauthausen-GUSEN Info-Pages
Paintings of a KZ Gusen Inmate
Found in 1997 in Bavaria, Germany
by Siegi Witzany-Durda and
Antiquariat REDIVIVUS Alte Buecher
D-93047 REGENSBURG, Germany
++49 941 51928 FAX
It was pure chance.
When Reinhard Hanausch, an antiquarian bookseller from Regensburg/Germany,
obtained second-hand books from a private owner, there was nothing unusual
until he came across an old, slightly yellowed album that seemed full of mystery.
An inscription on the cover baffled him.
It reads: "Gusen 1944 - Where we used to quarry stones, we are now building the ME (Messerschmitt)".
The album contains 10 colored genre paintings that undoubtedly
present scenes of life in a Nazi concentration camp, obviously
made in 1944. They are signed with the initials "FZ"
and dedicated to a certain "SK" .
As Mr. Hanausch had never heard of "Gusen" before, he made
investigations that gradually unveiled the initial mystery.
(I am pleased to note that this web-site proved helpful in his
In the 40s the father of the former owner of the album (who prefers to
remain anonymous), Mr. SK, was employed by the Bavarian Messerschmitt Company
in Regensburg, which was among the leading armament factories of the Nazi era.
After the first bombardments by the Allied Forces in August 1943, a considerable
part of the Messerschmitt aircraft production was evacuated and decentralized.
Apart from Flossenbuerg, Gusen was considered a safe and most important place.
Production at first started in barracks and was continued in huge underground systems later on.
Especially the KZ Gusen II (BERGKRISTALL-ESCHE 2) underground complex of about 50,000 m2
(more than 25 km in length!) became one of the most perfect and modern underground
factories in the German Reich due to this decentralization.
For the participants, this project turned out a "big deal" :
The prisoners, mainly so-called "political prisoners" from Germany,
Austria, Poland, Italy, Spain and France, were manufacturing fighter planes,
first the ME 109 and finally the first jet-fighter
in the world, the ME 262.
For the regular readers of this Web-page one need not go into
further detail as far as working and living conditions of
the prisoners were concerned. What was the ideal "industrial
center" for the Nazis, was a hell of exploitation and extermination
for the camp inmates.
So, what about the paintings?
- Messerschmitt AG Regensburg contributed the technical know-how
- the SS firm DEST did the administrative work and had the tunnels
- the SS also offered ten thousands of prisoners as cheap workers
Together with the evacuation of the production, Messerschmitt also
sent their aircraft engineers, skilled workers and foremen to Gusen
to supervise the slave-work.
This job was obligatory and, above all,
top secret. The company´s employees were not even allowed to inform
their families about their place and kind of work.
Although sympathy with prisoners was strictly forbidden and
considered "collaboration" by the SS, many of the foremen
showed compassion and treated the prisoners humanely.
"Mr. SK" must have been among those.
This explains why one of the prisoners working under his privileged
command in the painters´ workshop made the pictures for his
master to express his gratitude.
We also know that survivors visited the family of Mr. SK after the war
at his home in Regensburg to bring food to them out of personal gratitude.
Like thousands of other civilian workers, Mr. SK had to leave Gusen
in a hurry at the end of April 1945 to escape being blown up
in the huge underground installations of KZ Gusen II together with the
inmates of the camp and the local population, as the SS had originally planned.
Apart from his initials, the artist´s identity remains a mystery.
It is not unlikely that both master and prisoner came from
Bavaria, as one of the pictures, entitled "Well-disposed", depicts
the skyline of Regensburg, Germany.
We might just have to wait for another chance.
[Meanwhile we found that the artists name was Franczisek Julian Znamirowski, who was a very talented Polish painter in KL Gusen]
Back to KZ Gusen Drawings
- The son of "Mr. SK"
- Reinhard Hanausch, Antiquariat REDIVIVUS, Regensburg, Germany
- Manfred Stuber, Farbige Blaetter aus dem Grauen, Mittelbayerische Zeitung, Regensburg, Germany, 980111
- Siegi Witzany-Durda, St.Georgen/Gusen, Austria
Back to Arts in KZ Gusen
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For additional information, comments or suggestions, please contact:
KZ GUSEN Memorial Committee
Most recent updates of this page were made on
2006-10-21 by Rudolf A. HAUNSCHMIED,
Martha GAMMER, Siegi WITZANY-DURDA and