Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Creative Expression Under Occupation

Clairette Vigder, a seven-year-old girl living in Nazi-occupied Paris, devoted hours to drawing what she was not permitted to go out and see in person – brightly colored birds and the sun. With arrests of Jews commonplace in Paris, Clairette was confined indoors by her parents, where she devoted hours of her time to drawing. With paper scarce, Clairette drew colorful images on materials immediately available – including the covers from packages of Camembert cheese.

Soon after her father was deported, Clairette’s mother decided they had to leave their home, and arranged for Clairette and her younger brother to go into hiding. Her mother gave the family's personal belongings, including Clairette’s drawings, to a neighbor for safekeeping, but fearing discovery, the neighbor disposed of everything – except for Clairette’s artwork. The children were reunited with their mother at the end of the war. Their father was murdered in Auschwitz in 1943. In 2009, Clairette gave a number of the colorful paintings, along with several other personal items, to Yad Vashem for safekeeping and preservation.

Clairette's drawings are among the thousands of items contained in Yad Vashem's collections. The professional staff of Yad Vashem ensures that the items are properly preserved and maintained. Yad Vashem urges the public that may have artifacts and documents from the Holocaust to give them to Yad Vashem for preservation and safekeeping. (Contact: +972-2-644-3249,

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