Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Rare Holocaust Books & Art Come To Auction

by Stephen J. Gertz

The Mass Extermination of Jews in German Occupied Poland. London: Hutchinson, [1943].
Octavo (216 x 140mm). 16 pp, printed in red and black.

Estimate: £500-£800 ($785-$1256)

A rare cache of nine books, including a very early official report of the Holocaust addressed,  in 1943, to the impotent League of Nations, exposing the extermination of Jews in Poland by the Nazi occupiers, is being offered today, March 21, 2012, at Christie's Fine Printed Books sale.

The report was based upon the brave work of Jan Karski-Kozielski, a Polish Government emissary in occupied Poland, who bribed his way into a German concentration camp and witnessed the mass extermination of Jews. The report was written in 1942 and printed in 1943 on behalf of the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs "In the hope that the civilised world will draw the appropriate conclusion, the Polish Government desire to bring to the notice of the public, by means of the present White Paper, these renewed German efforts at mass extermination, with the employment of fresh horrifying methods."

HASS, Leo (1901-1983). 12 puvodnich litografii z nemeckych
koncentracnich taboru.

[12 Original Lithographs from the German Concentration Camps.]
Prague: Svaz Osvobozenych Politickych Venzu, 1947.
Oblong 2° (343 x 480mm). 12 lithographs.
Original printed paper wrappers.

Estimate: £2000-£3000 ($3140-$4710).

A fine copy of Leo Hass' 12 puvodnih litografii z nemeckych koncentracnich taboru, a collection of images illustrating life in Auschwitz, is part of the cache. It is signed by Czech poet, essayist, translator, and resistance fighter, Frantisek Halas.

Leo Haas was an important Czech-Jewish graphic designer and book illustrator of who survived Terezin, Auschwitz, and Mauthausen where he was classified as a political prisoner. This is an extremely rare volume, with only four copies recorded by OCLC.

MATOUSEK, Ota (1890-1977).
Krezby Z Koncentraku: 61 Puvodnich Litografii.
[Drawings from a Concentration Camp: 61 Original Lithographs.]
Prague: Sdruzeni Jihoceskych Vytvarniku, 1946.
Quarto (307 x 208mm). 61 lithographs.
Original linen-backed boards.

Estimate: £2000-£3000 ($3140-$4710)

A fine first edition, limited to 200 copies signed by the artist, of Ota Matousek's Krezby Z Koncentraku: 61 Puvodnich Litografii (Drawings from the Concentration Camp), features sixty-one lithographs of everyday life at Flossenburg concentration camp.

Matousek was widely exhibited in Central Europe in the 1920s and 1930s. In 1943 he was arrested by the Gestapo and sent to Flossenburg. After liberation a set of images depicting everyday life in the camp was exhibited in Prague. Only two copies are recorded by OCLC.

STIBOR, Bohumil. Soubor Drevorytu Z Koncentracniho Tabora.
[N.p.]: by the author, 1946.
Oblong octavo (300 x 210mm). 10 woodcuts.
Original paper wrappers by Emil Spongl.
Provenance: Bohumil Stibor (inscription dated 1946).

Estimate:  £1000-£1500 ($1570-$2355).

Soubor Drevorytu Z Koncentracniho Tabora, a collection of ten woodcuts privately printed by artist Bohumil Stibor and bound at the Emil Spongl bindery in the town of Pelhrimov, Bohemia in March, 1946, will also fall under the hammer. A fine copy inscribed by Stibor, the book is quite rare, with only two copies recorded in Worldcat and none in Copac.

TUMA, Mirko. Ghetto Nasich Dnu. [Ghetto of Our Days].
Prague: Salivar, 1946. Octavo (257 x 180mm). 12 plates.
Original printed wrappers.

Estimate: £500-£800 ($785-$1256.

An excellent copy of Mirko Tuma's Ghetto Nasich Dnu (Ghetto of Our Days), his personal account of daily life in Terezin concentration camp, with illustrations by Leo Haas, his friend and fellow captive, is another rare literary and artistic spark to emerge from the Holocaust's flame.

During his three and a half years in the Czech ghetto, better known by the German name Theresienstadt, Mirko Tuma wrote numerous poems, translated Shakespeare's Measure for Measure, and adapted Calderon's The Judge of Zalamea. After the war he emigrated to the U.S.

From: Ghetto Nasich Dnu.
Illustration by Leo Hass.

Material of this nature, of this quality, in this condition rarely comes into the marketplace in multiple lots within one auction sale. This is an unusual opportunity to "never forget" with unforgettable books.

Images courtesy of Christie's, with our thanks.

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