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Displaced Persons’ Book on Women’s Concentration Camps

Ravensbrück: naibil’shyi zhinochyi kontsentratsiinyi tabir v Nimechchyni [Ravensbrück: the largest women’s concentration camp in Germany].

[Munich, ca. 1946]. Oblong 12mo (12 × 18 cm). Original pictorial wrappers; [10] leaves of plates, mostly color, with printed legends in Ukrainian. Private gift inscription to first page; wrappers lightly creased; else about very good.

Rare illustrated work on the largest women’s concentration camp, by Olena Vityk-Voitovych, a Ukrainian artist who had survived arrest and torture by the Gestapo, as well as internment at the Ravensbrück and Neubrandenburg camps, from June 1943 until the end of World war II. The drawings are dated 1945 to 1946, and show various scenes of everyday life in the camps, including forced labor, shared meals, and acts of violence by SS officers and female guards.

KZ Ravensbrück was the largest Nazi concentration camp for women, located north of Berlin. Over 130,000 women and children were held there, and it is estimated that approximately 28,000 prisoners died. The camp was liberated by the Red Army in April 1945. See also: Claus Füllberg-Stolberg Frauen in Konzentrationslagern: Bergen-Belsen, Ravensbrück (Bremen: Temmen, 1994).

Little is known about Vityk-Voitovych, who was apparently a member of the OUN-B women’s network in Berlin, the pro-Bandera faction of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists, which fought for the independence of Ukraine. She was arrested by the Gestapo in December 1942 and interred at Ravensbrück and Neubrandenburg camps from June 1943 until the end of the war, after which she presumably lived in a camp for Displaced Persons.

This volume is far scarcer than another known illustrated work about the concentration camps, the Album of a Political Prisoner bz Paladii Osynka (Munich, 1946). Both of these books were published by and for Ukrainian Displaced Persons (DP), stateless refugees in post-war Germany. Such publications, which included original works, political manifestos, and eyewitness accounts of WWII, were printed in very small print runs and on highly brittle paper. They were issued under very difficult conditions, despite a lack of material resources, paper, and strict military censorship rules.

In 1992, a modern reprint was published in Chicago. As of October 2020, KVK and OCLC show only two copies of the original edition worldwide, at Columbia University and Erlangen.

Book ID: 51043

Price: $1,750.00