Božidar PENGOV (1910 – 1985).

DACHAU CONCENTRATION CAMP:

Ne moremo z vami toda ne pozabite nas! [We cannot go with you but don’t forget us!].

Dachau Concentration Camp, Germany, [Late May / Early June], 1945.

Mimeograph on cheap wartime paper (Very Good, slight toning), 30 x 21 cm (12 x 8 inches).

An extremely disturing, but highly important, image of victims of the Dauchau Nazi concentration camp, made by a survivor, the esteemed Slovenian artist Božidar Penov, printed within the Dachau camp just days after its liberation.

This is the most disturbing object we have ever dealt with; however, it is of considerable historical importance.  This poignant image was printed in Dachau concentration camp (shortly after its liberation) and depicts dead, starved, naked men, crammed into coffins; the victims of the horrific Nazi regime.  The image was drafred by the esteemed Slovenian artist and Dachau survivor Božidar Pengov, and printed in the Dachau camp, in late May or early June 1945, about a month after the camp was liberated by the Americans.

To be clear, the present work was made at the Dachau Camp in late May or early June 1945, while the camp was under American administration.  The camp was liberated from the Nazis by the Americans on April 28/9, 1945.  However, while the Americans went to great efforts to dramatically improve the conditions of the camp’s residents, most of the former prisoners were obliged to remain in the camp for some weeks until being processed out.  Not only did the Americans need to screen the rolls for people who were potential security risks to the Allies, but it was also considered unsafe or very difficult for many of the internees to return to home.  Moreover, there were issues of infectious diseases within the camp, and doctors ordered a quarantine period.  Time was required for all the arrangements to be made, and so thousands, including Pengov, remained in Dachau.

Thus, the Americans facilitated activities and diversions for the internees as they awaited their release.  A small number of residents requested, and were given, the resources to publish newsletters and small visual works, giving rise to the present image.

The present work appears to have been both issued separately, and also as a supplement to the issue no. 29 of Ludwig Mrzel’s newspaper, Dahavski Poročevalec,issued within the Dachau camp on June 5, 1945.  Pengov’s image and Marko Zupančič’s two maps of Dachau were altogether supplements to this issue of the newspaper.  It is thought that Zupančič’s two maps and Pengov’s image were originally separately printed and distributed well before June 5, 1945, in some cases to non-Yugoslavian internees who had little use for the newspaper.  It follows that the leftover stock of these prints was affixed to copies of the final edition of the newspaper so that they could be distributed as precious souvenirs to the departing survivors (that being the last occasion to do so).

 Božidar (Božo) Pengov (1910-85) was a famous academic sculptor during the pre-war period, responsible for many open-air statues.  During the war, due to his association with the Partisans, the Nazis interred Pengov in Dachau.  There, he became an eyewitness to some of the most horrific events within the camp.  While remaining in quarantine at Dachau for a time after the war, Pengov illustrated a Partisan newspaper, Jež za žico [Hedgehog behind Barbed Wire], as well as a map of Dachau (today known in only a single example), all printed within the camp.  However, his most memorable and poignant work resulting from his Dachau experience is the present image.  After the war, Pengov became a professor at the Ljubljana Art Academy.

References: Celje Museum (Slovenia): 745:CEL;A-0000009.