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This collection consists of:
KD_00356_0001: Original items donated by Irene Spicker-Awret, including a war-time photo of her with friends, five oil paintings created by Irene during her internment at the Dossin barracks, a puppet and a drawing for the opera Carmen, both created by artist Leon (Lon) Landau while he was detained at the Dossin barracks.
KD_00356_0002: Original items donated by Uziel Awret, son of Azriel Awret and Irene Spicker, including Irene’s war-time paint box and Azriel’s series of 37 post-war drawings on the Holocaust.
- AWRET Irene, They'll Have to Catch Me First: An Artist's Coming of Age in the Third Reich, Wisconsin, 2004.
- Azriel and Irene Awret-Spicker, artists
- Oil paintings: four oil on canvas, one oil on wood. All five paintings are undergoing restauration in 2018-2019. The portrait of baby Peter Anger (KD_00356_0001_A001232) and the puppet created by Leon (Lon) Landau (KD_00356_0001_A000090) are part of Kazerne Dossin's permanent exhibition.
- A digital copy of collection KD_00356 is available at Kazerne Dossin
- 47 digitised images (7 objects, 1 photo, 38 drawings)
- Other items related to Leon (Lon) Landau are part of the collection Adela Landau-Missorten. Other war-time works of art created by Irene Spicker at the Dossin barracks are stored at Beit Lohamei Haghetaot / the Ghetto Fighters' House in Israel (online access available).
Irene Spicker was born in Berlin on 30 January 1921 as the youngest child of travelling salesman Moses Spicker (born on 31 August 1878 in Vandsburg, today Wiecbork, Poland) and his wife Margarete Zoegall (born on 26 March 1883 in Berlin). Irene had a brother named Werner and a sister named Gerda. At a young age, Irene showed artistic talent and she enrolled in an art school. However, in 1937 she was expelled as a Jewish student. In April 1939 Irene fled from Berlin to Belgium with her sister Gerda, their brother having received a visa for Latin-America. Their father Moses joined his daughters in Belgium in July 1939, their mother having passed away in 1927. Irene continued her studies at the local art school and was living in Ixelles, Brussels, when Nazi-Germany invaded Belgium on 10 May 1940.
During the first war years, Irene earned a living by becoming a cleaning lady at several households and by painting scarfs. She took on the false identity of Marie-Antoinette van Crombrugghe de Loringhe, but she was arrested in November 1942 at one of the homes she cleaned. Irene was first taken to the bureau of the Sicherheitspolizei-Sicherheitsdienst at Avenue Louise in Brussels, but revealed nothing about the whereabouts of her father and sister when questioned. She was transferred to the Dossin barracks in March 1943 and her name was added to several subsequent deportation lists – transport XX, transport XXI, transport XXII A, transport XXIII – before she was finally included in the Dossin camp staff thanks to her artistic skills. Irene was assigned to the Malerstube, the group of inmates responsible for drawing the cards with deportation numbers which the inmates in the camp were forced to wear. When ordered she also painted portraits of the guards and took the opportunity to clandestinely draw portraits of inmates and scenes depicting camp life.
As a member of the Malerstube, Irene met other renown artists such as Leon (Lon) Landau (born on 19 June 1919 in Antwerp, Belgium), décor designer for the Koninklijke Nederlandse Schouwburg [Royal Dutch Theater] in Antwerp, and painter Felix Nussbaum (born on 11 December 1904 in Osnabrück, Germany). Irene also encountered the civic engineer Azriel Awret (born on 10 August 1910 in Lodz, Poland) who was interned at the Dossin barracks on 23 January 1943. He worked there as an electrician and the couple fell in love.
When the Dossin barracks were liberated in the night of 3 on 4 September 1944, Irene was freed and returned home, where she was reunited with her father and her sister. Irene then married Azriel Awret. He had been released from the barracks on 16 October 1943 because of his first marriage to a non-Jewish woman. The couple’s first child was born in Belgium in 1946 and the family emigrated to Israel in 1949. Later on they moved to the United States. Irene and Azriel have children and grandchildren. Both continued to create art and established large collections. In 2004, Irene published her memoires. Azriel Awret passed away in 2010, Irene Spicker in 2014.
- After the liberation of the Dossin barracks on 4 September 1944, former prisoner Irene Spicker took home multiple objects from the camp, including several of her own paintings created during her internment at the Dossin barracks and multiple items created by the deported artist Leon (Lon) Landau. In 1994-1996 Irene kindly donated these original items to the Jewish Museum of Deportation and Resistance, predecessor of Kazerne Dossin. In 2017-2018, Uziel Awret, son of Azriel Awret and Irene Spicker, kindly donated Irene's war-time paint box and Azriel's series of original drawings on the Holocaust to Kazerne Dossin.
- Irene Spicker-Awret, 1994-1996, and her son Uziel Awret, 2017-2018