War art returns to town

Brian Devlin with some of the artworks on show in the exhibition
Brian Devlin with some of the artworks on show in the exhibition
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Poignant drawings from children at one of Hitler’s transportation camps are returning to St Annes.

The touching scenes have been lent to exhibition organiser Brian Devlin who is displaying 40 of them at The Island cinema from Saturday through until the following Friday.

He staged a similar exhibition at the venue in April and the new run coincides with the 1940s Festival being held in Lytham this weekend

The exhibition also features two films: one of survivor Otto Deutsch, now in his 80s, talking of his experiences. the other is The Boys, a documentary about child holocaust survivors who came to Britain after the war.

The art has been loaned to the St Annes exhibition by the Jewish Museum in Prague which collected the work from the Terezin camp 60 miles north east of Prague. The camp was a transit camp used to gather Jews from across Bohemia-Moravia before they were sent to their doom at Auschwitz.

Brian, from Galashiels, an amateur student of children in wartime who eventually wants to establish a children’s wartime museum in either Fylde or Blackpool, said: “Many people found it very moving when it was at The Island in April. One picture is an almost entirely black page – but you can make out the outline of a black train which, I suppose, is surrounded by the blackness of the doom that awaited. Even the sun is surrounded by black.

“Another picture shows a mother and father and their children being shepherded through fields towards Terezin. They are surrounded by angry farmers who are threatening them with pitchforks. It is very thought-provoking.

“There are many happier pictures: paintings of children playing just like children anywhere and also of a Passover feast. The Germans were very keen to use Terezin as a ‘show camp’ to the rest of the world to demonstrate their alleged humanity.

“Nevertheless, the children’s painting and drawings shows clearly saddened victims. Only a few are smiling. Some children produced pictures of people carrying suitcases – all were told they were merely being taken to work camps not death camps.

“It is always valuable to see the world through the eyes of a child and I see this art as voices from across the decades. Very few survived and the Germans tried to eradicate their memory entirely: this art and the accompanying film still gives a voice to those victims.”

Entry to the display is free. Opening hours are 11am to 8pm, seven days per week.