The artwork below, Terezin View from a Window, 1943 was created by Jo Spier. The original is 6.25 inches x 4 inches, made with pen, ink, and watercolor on paper.
This Terezin Ghetto living space is organized yet disheveled, empty of people yet full of signs of human habitation. Clothes border the open window, including a coat with a Star of David identifier hanging on the left. Buckets and bottles, maybe holding medicine or water, sit on the window sill. Through the window, a dark SS flag flies in the distance. Perhaps the artist included the flag as a symbol of the constant reminder of death that hung over prisoners in the Terezin Ghetto.
A well-known Jewish cartoonist and illustrator, Joseph (Jo) Eduard Adolf Spier(1900 –1978), was dismissed from the staff of the Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf after Germany invaded and occupied the Netherlands in May 1940. After a brief imprisonment in Westerbork, the Nazis deported Spier and his family to the Terezin Ghetto where they remained until liberation by the Red Army in May 1945. As a prisoner, Spier continued to make art both secretly and for the Ghetto’s Workshop for Arts and Crafts and Utility Painting. After the war, Spier and his family returned to the Netherlands, and he resumed his professional career as an illustrator for the magazine Elsevier. He contributed to America’s effort to rebuild postwar Europe through the publication The Marshall Plan and You (1949),which explained the Marshall Plan to the citizens of the Netherlands in a succinct and entertaining fashion. Spier immigrated to the United States in 1951, and his family joined him in 1953.
The Museum’s exhibition Rendering Witness: Holocaust-Era Art as Testimony, which was on view January 16, 2020 – June 20, 2021, displayed art produced by Jews and other victims of the Nazis during the Holocaust. Each artwork in this exhibition reasserted the artist’s humanity and individuality, qualities too often obscured by iconic Holocaust photographs that were taken by the Nazis or their collaborators.