Memories of Mikhailowka

Labour Camp Testimonies in the Arnold Daghani Archive
  • Edward Timms


The artist Arnold Daghani (1909–1985) came from a German-speaking Jewish family in Suczawa, a small town in the Bukowina on the eastern frontier of the Austro-Hungarian Empire (now Suceava in Romania). Although he visited Vienna, Munich and Paris as a young man, he seems to have received scarcely any formal artistic training. Indeed, his career began under the most adverse circumstances — in the Mikhailowka labour camp in the Ukraine. He and his wife Nanino, whom he married in 1940, were Romanian citizens living in Czernowitz at the time of the German invasion. In June 1942 they were deported across the river Bug to Mikhailowka, together with four hundred other Jews who were forced to work as slave labourers. Among the few personal possessions which Daghani took with him when they were deported was a set of water-colours and a sketchbook (a Romanian guard had persuaded him to keep them in his knapsack). He was thus able to complete a remarkable series of paintings and drawings recording the appalling conditions in the camp. He and his wife had to endure twelve months of forced labour under extremely arduous conditions, working for the August Dohrmann company on the construction of a strategic military road, known by the abbreviation DG IV (Durchgangsstrasse IV).


Family Firm Mass Grave Public Prosecutor Slave Labour Labour Camp 
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© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 2001

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  • Edward Timms

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