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Yad Vashem The Story of the Jewish Community of Plonsk

Halina Olomucki

"While I was in Auschwitz-Birkenau someone told me, ‘if you live to leave this hell, make your drawings and tell the world about us. We want to remain among the living, at least on paper." Miriam Novitch, Lucy Dawidowicz, Tom L. Freudenheim, Spiritual Resistance.
Art from Concentration Camps, 1940-1945, Union of American Hebrew Congregations, 1981, p. 17.
  • Self-portrait (?), Germany, 1945
  • The Armband Peddler, Ghetto Warsaw, 1942
  • After the Shearing of the Beard, Warsaw Ghetto, 1943
  • “Why?”, Germany, 1945
  • “Don’t shoot my mother!”, Auschwitz-Birkenau, c. 1944
  • Resistance Fighter in Auschwitz, Auschwitz-Birkenau, 1945
  • The Last Worry 1944, Germany, 1945
  • Bowl of Hot Soup, 1945

Born to the Olszewski family in Warsaw, Poland, in 1921. Died in Ashkelon, Israel, in 2007.

Olomucki's father died when she was a child. She grew up in Warsaw and received a Jewish, although not religious, education at a Yiddish-speaking school. With the German occupation in 1939, Olomucki and her family were deported to the Warsaw ghetto. She was conscripted to forced labor outside the ghetto walls. In May 1943, Olomucki and her mother Margarita were transported to Majdanek, where her mother was murdered. In May 1943, Olomucki was transported to Auschwitz-Birkenau. There, she was forced to work in the Union (Weichsel-Union-Metallwerke) ammunition factory. She was designated to paint signs for the barracks. With the approach of the Red Army in January 1945, she was evacuated on a death march to Ravensbrück, and from there to Neustadt-Glewe, where she was liberated on May 2, 1945. She returned to Warsaw in the hope of finding family members who survived, but to no avail. She moved to Łódź, where she married, and studied painting at the Academy of Fine Arts until 1951. She was a student of the artist Władysław Strzemiński. In 1957, she moved to France and in 1972, immigrated to Israel, where she settled in Holon.

Olomucki portrayed daily life in the Warsaw Ghetto. After she was transported to the concentration camps, she continued to draw, using materials that she obtained through her assignments as a forced laborer. In Warsaw after the war, she found her drawings, which she had been able to smuggle out of the ghetto to a Polish friend, who had saved them. She also managed to find a few of the drawings she had hidden in Birkenau.

Yad Vashem holds 36 of Halina Olomucki's portraits in its collection.