Franz Peter Kien Paintings of Terezin
My mother was a concentration camp survivor. She spent three years in the concentration camp called Theresienstadt, also known as Terezin, and she and her parents were imprisoned there for three years. Terezin was known for having a lot of artists and musicians. It was used as a model camp to try and show the rest of the world, "Look, we're treating everybody really well." And there was an artist there that acquired potato sack bags and used the bags as canvas to paint these three paintings that I guess are supposed to depict his vision of the camp. The big fear in the camp was if your number got called, that meant that you were going to be sent away, and "away" turned out to be Auschwitz. This artist got sent away to Auschwitz, and when he left, he gave the paintings to my grandfather, said, "Hold on to these, I'll be back for them," and he never made it back. During the remaining time in the camp my grandfather hid them. When my mother and her parents were liberated, he managed to take them with him to their next stop, which was a displaced persons camp, and then from there they emigrated to the United States. And I grew up with these paintings hanging on my family wall.
The paintings are very unusual because of the subject matter--
--and the artist. Franz Peter Kien was a well-known Czech artist for his work in the camp there at Terezin. These things become very difficult to value in a modern sense because they, frankly, they are priceless. They are monuments to man's inhumanity to man. And his work is credited largely for depicting the camp and getting the message out that this was not the model camp, but was actually a tragic situation. We look at the paintings and we notice that he signed his name in different ways on some of the different artworks. But I also found examples of his name being listed several different ways in the histories as well. Holocaust-related material is a very sensitive subject. It's something that comes onto the market very infrequently, and that makes it fairly difficult to value. We've been searching for some comparisons. Most of the man's work is in museums. I believe there are some pieces in Yad Vashem. There really isn't a whole lot to go on as far as a market value. But looking at other artists and other surviving camp material that is documented, we were able to reach a conclusion. But one of the key points in that is the documentation. Not only do you have the paintings on potato sacks, but you have the documentation of your family material also. We've got your mother's pass. This is her pass from the displaced persons camp, I believe.
And then a work pass stamped with the appropriate markings. There are people who believe that-- for understandable reasons-- that the buying and selling of anything related to this is profiting from the suffering. But in one great respect, having a value associated with material like this ensures that should this, for some reason, not be in the safe hands of a family, like you, that it will survive to be brought into the hands of responsible custody, and eventually in a place where it can stand as testimony to what these individuals endured and achieve its proper place in history. And in the realm of militaria, we deal with things that are a tangible artifact of tragedy. And that's really what we have here. A lot of the material today on the market that has to do with the Holocaust is actually counterfeit. That tells you several things. First, it's insult to injury for the individuals that survived this. But secondly, it does tell you that there is a demand, that the people who are interested in history, the people who collect World War II memorabilia, and the museums are hungry for artifacts to display to tell this story. I believe that in 2014, an auction estimate for this would have to be in the neighborhood of $10,000 to $15,000 for the three works.
Okay. Yeah, as I said, I feel similarly that it's not a monetary thing. For me, the significance is telling the world what went on. I'm glad that you were able to appreciate the sentiment and the value.
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