Many soul stirring recollections have been told describing the atrocities of the Holocaust and its effect on different aspects of society in general and the survivors in particular.
One incredible story recounts how renowned artist, Nicky Imber, actually managed to escape from the Dachau, Nazi concentration camp ingeniously using his artistic skills.
Born in Vienna, Austria in 1920, the young Imber was already artistically inclined from an early age. His family, sensing that conditions were fast deteriorating for the Jews, tried to leave Austria but were consistently refused by the Nazi authorities. In this period of time Imber’s prodigious talents allowed him to get accepted into the prestigious Vienna Academy of Arts.
While studying at the art school, he aroused controversy by drawing anti-Nazi caricatures for the Jewish student publications. Soon afterwards, in the year 1938, he was sent, along with his family, to the Nazi concentration camp in Dachau.
Witnessing his family and other people being killed, his pain turned to anger as he plotted his escape. Over the next few months, using the skills he had learned in art school, he ingeniously fashioned a facial mask made of bread and sand. Waiting for an opportune time, he was able to steal a Nazi soldier’s uniform. Afterwards while disguising himself with the mask he had fashioned and with the Nazi soldier’s uniform, he was able to walk out of the front gate unnoticed!
Unfortunately Imber’s ordeal did not end, even after this daring escape. Conditions were far too dangerous for him to remain in the country, so he decided that the risk of getting caught by attempting to leave was better than staying. He managed to board a ship which was headed to Haifa, Israel with the hope of being able to start a new life in freedom. As the ship arrived to the Haifa port, the British authorities stopped them and the ship’s passengers were refused entry into Israel.
As if this incident were not enough demoralizing, and to add insult to injury, after having suffered the horrors of Dachau, Imber and the rest of the passengers were then sent to imprisonment in a detainment camp located in Mauritius.
Imber promised himself to dedicate his artistic life to perpetuating the memory of the Holocaust.
After the war, Imber’s artistic reputation grew to international levels and in 1978 he was finally able to fulfill a long-time dream. For three years he worked designing and building the Holocaust Memorial Park in, Karmiel, Israel entitled ‘From Holocaust to Resurrection’. His famous sculpture, “Hope”, is exhibited amongst the many sculptures found in this memorial park depicting Holocaust themes.
Near the end of his life he returned to his birthplace closing a symbolic circle:
He passed away in Vienna in 1996.