Detail from painting by Joanna Dąbkiewicz-Luścińska. Photo: Ewa Ślusarczyk.

Women’s Concentration Camp Experience is a Polish travelling exhibition about the experiences of women in German concentration camps during World War II. It features around seventy reproductions, in natural size, of drawings and watercolours created in the camps. Furthermore, the exhibition displays large paintings and other objects by contemporary Polish artists, who convey the women’s camp experiences through the perspective of postmemory.

Most of the drawings from the camps are made by artist Jadwiga Simon-Pietkiewicz, who was rescued from Ravensbrück to Sweden in 1945 through the White  Buses operation. Her sketches capture moments from a concentration camp and testify to the dehumanisation that women endured.

Through these images and different stories gathered from archival material, we gain insight into the living conditions in the camps during times of work and times of rest. The images provide powerful representations of the female body – often gaunt, sick, and crippled – that convey feelings of despair and resignation.

The exhibition was created by Barbara Czarnecka, a scholar from the University of Bialystok in Poland, and the author of two academic books on women’s experiences in concentration camps.

Video about the exhibition

In the video below, Barbara Czarnecka talks about the exhibition. It is in Polish with English subtitles.


The exhibition is originally in Polish, but Swedish and  English translations can be found in each part of the exhibition. There is also a QR-code if you prefer to read the material on your mobile phone.

Production and collaborations

The travelling exhibition has previously been on display at the State Archive in Bialystok and at the Museum of Independence in Warsaw. It has been adapted for Kulturen and is displayed in connection with our own exhibition To Survive – Voices from Ravensbrück.

The project is a collaboration between the University of Bialystok and the Faculty of Philology at the University of Bialystok, Lund University and EUROPAST, the Polish Institute in Stockholm and Kulturen.