The Nazis Made Her Paint Portraits. The Auschwitz Museum Claims They Belong to Mengele

In 1944, Josef Mengele ordered a Jewish inmate in Auschwitz to paint portraits of Romani people as graphic ‘evidence’ of the Nazis’ racial theory. Years later, the Auschwitz-Birkenau Museum informed the artist that some of the works still existed – but balked at her request to receive them. Their initial reason: The portraits belong to the person who ‘commissioned’ them: Mengele

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Ofer Aderet
Ofer Aderet
Ofer Aderet
Ofer Aderet

Visitors to Block 13 at the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum, on the site of the former death camp, are prohibited from photographing the exhibits. In addition to photographs and documents, the materials on display include four singular works of art that the museum safeguards like a precious treasure. They are among the remnants of a series of watercolor portraits of Romani people who were incarcerated in the Nazi death camp in occupied Poland.

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