Nazi camp drawings to be donated

HARROWING drawings of life in Second World War concentration camps played a key role in exposing Nazi atrocities at the Nuremberg trials.Now the internationally-important sketches by Suffolk-trained artist Brian Stonehouse are to be handed to the Imperial War Museum in London after being donated by his family.

HARROWING drawings of life in Second World War concentration camps played a key role in exposing Nazi atrocities at the Nuremberg trials.

Now the internationally-important sketches by Suffolk-trained artist Brian Stonehouse are to be handed to the Imperial War Museum in London after being donated by his family.

The pencil and pastel works were spotted by Moyse's Hall Museum staff in Bury St Edmunds in 2005 during a session with the town's branch of the Royal British Legion to unearth material for an exhibition.

The artist's brother, Dale Stonehouse, from Bury St Edmunds, brought in the collection and museum staff immediately recognised it as a unique record of some of the world's most notorious death camps, including Dachau.

He and his sister, Margot Stonehouse, said in a statement that their decision to hand the works to the nation was what their brother would have wanted.

Mr Stonehouse said: “Brian always said he wanted people to know about the horrors of the concentration camps so it did not happen again.”

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During the war Brian Stonehouse - who later developed a career in America as a fashion artist and on his return to England in 1979 went on to paint portraits, including several of the late Queen Mother - was parachuted into France as a radio operator for the Special Operations Executive.

The young artist was captured and imprisoned in concentration camps, where he initially tried to keep his sketches secret.

But throughout his life Mr Stonehouse, who trained as an artist in Ipswich and died aged 80 in 1998, felt he owed his survival to the fact that his talent was discovered. Guards asked him to draw sketches of them and he believed this saved him from heavy manual work and helped keep him alive.

Alex McWhirter, heritage assistant at the museum, said the artist's greatest legacy was the sketches themselves.

He said: “Stonehouse went on to be one of the witnesses at Nuremberg - he was one of the few people who had experienced life in Dachau and was able to point the finger at some of those responsible.

“It was a very important alternative to the written accounts available. As well as being very lifelike, his sketches are an accurate account of day-to-day life in the camps. Some of the sketches showed piles of dead bodies at Dachau - they were used at the trials as evidence. This is a very significant collection of art.”

Some of the art will be displayed in the Imperial War Museum's permanent Holocaust exhibition, while copies of the works and the artist's writings will be kept in Bury.

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