Edith Kiss

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Edith Kiss, September 1945

Edith Bán Kiss, also Edit, née Rott (1905–1966) was a Hungarian sculptor and painter. In the autumn of 1944, together with thousands of other Hungarian Jewish women, she was deported to the Ravensbrück concentration camp in northern Germany. She was then transferred to the Daimler-Benz factory at Ludwigsfelde where she was forced to work on aircraft engines for the Luftwaffe. Shortly after her release at the end of the war, she illustrated her experiences of concentration camps with 30 gouache sketches which were exhibited in Budapest in late 1945.[1] There was however little recognition of her work in the West. As a result, following the death of her husband she was driven to suicide in Paris in 1966. In 1992, her "Deportation" series was exhibited in Berlin, Paris and Budapest.[2][3]

Biography[edit]

Born into a Jewish family in Budapest on 21 November 1905, Edith Rott was the youngest of the four daughters of Friges and Melitta Rott. Having studied at the art academies in Budapest and Düsseldorf, she became a well known sculptor in Hungary in the period before World War II. Around that time, she married Tivadar Bán.[2][3]

In October 1944, together with thousands of other Hungarian Jewish women, she was first subjected to forced labour in Hungary and was then deported to the Ravensbrück concentration camp in northern Germany. On 6 December, she was transferred to the Daimler-Benz factory at Ludwigsfelde where she was one of 1,100 women who were forced to work on aircraft engines for the Luftwaffe in dreadful conditions.[3]

As the end of the war approached, she was returned to Ravensbrück from where she was sent on a death march for execution in the gas chambers.[2] Together with her Hungarian friend Ágnes Galambos,[4] on 30 April she escaped from the death march at Strasen near Wesenberg. Together they travelled back to Budapest via Berlin, Prague and Bratislava, arriving there on 1 July 1945.[3]

Kiss's relief of Jews being sent to the gas chambers

On returning to Budapest, she illustrated her concentration camp experiences in a series of 30 gouache sketches titled Deportation which she exhibited in the city on 22 September 1945. After divorcing her first husband, she married Sándor Kiss and emigrated to the West with him. Shortly after their departure, in July 1948 the four large stone reliefs of the deportation she had created were inaugurated in the outer wall of Budapest's Újpest Synagogue.[3] The first shows a Hungarian policeman directing Jews to cattle cars for deportation, the second shows an Arrow Cross guard overseeing men in a labour battalion, the third presents a Nazi herding Jews into the gas chambers and in the fourth we see Red Army soldiers being welcomed by Jews in Budapest.[5]

Despite further works reflecting her deportation experiences, there was little recognition of Kiss's art in the West. After periods spent in Switzerland, Casablanca and London, following the death of her husband she committed suicide in a Paris hotel in the night of 26-27 October 1966. Her gouache album was rediscovered by Helmuth Bauer in London in 1992 and her gouaches have since been exhibited in various locations in Germany as well as in Paris and Budapest.[1] They have also been presented in the "We were Nobody" exhibition in the Ravensbrück Memorial.[3][2]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Das "Album Déportation"" (in German). Gesichter der KZ-Zwangsarbeit. Retrieved 1 January 2018.
  2. ^ a b c d "Edith Kiss" (in German). Arbeitskreis Konfrontationen. Retrieved 1 January 2018.
  3. ^ a b c d e f "Edit Bán Kiss" (in German). Gesichter der KZ-Zwangsarbeit. Retrieved 1 January 2018.
  4. ^ "Survivor Story: Agnes Rezsone Bartha". Claims Conference. Retrieved 2 January 2018.
  5. ^ Cole, Tim (2011). Traces of the Holocaust: Journeying in and out of the Ghettos. Bloomsbury Publishing. pp. 152–. ISBN 978-1-4411-3897-2.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]