Born November 10, 1917 in Białogrodek, Poland; died January 30, 1984 in Kraków
Nowakowski studied at Warsaw Polytechnic University.
Arrest and Deportation to Auschwitz
He was arrested by the Gestapo in May 1940 and interned in the Pawiak prison where he received a death sentence that was subsequently commuted to a "life sentence." July 1940, he was deported to Auschwitz, where he was assigned prisoner number 2805 and designated a political prisoner.
Work Assignments at Auschwitz
1940-43 Nowakowski worked in the stables, where he was caught smuggling food for fellow prisoners and sentenced to serve two months in a penal labor detail.
Art Produced at Auschwitz
Nowakowski created artworks throughout the duration of his Auschwitz imprisonment. These include oil and tempera paintings on the Auschwitz barracks and infirmary walls, drawings on censored letters, and 300 watercolors in postcard formats. In addition, he constructed a puppet theater in the prisoner infirmary for men, sector BIIf in Birkenau, at Christmas time of 1943. With his friend the noted Polish author Tadeusz Borowski Nowakowski organized skits, readings and cabaret performances, making decorations and stage sets from packing materials, wrapping paper, rags, and cartons. When later asked why he created art at Auschwitz, Nowakowski answered: "I involved myself with art in order to survive."
Deportation to Sachsenhausen
Fall of 1944, Nowakowski was transported to the Sachsenhausen concentration camp, where he was assigned to railroad construction detail.
Liberation and After
He was liberated on May 3, 1945 and returned to Poland in September 1945. Following the war, he studied at the Kraków Academy of Fine Arts and worked as a teacher and graphic artist.
Archives of the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum in Oświęcim.
Goldmann, Sybille and Myrah Adams Rösing. Kunst zum Überleben: Gezeichnet in Auschwitz. Ulm, 1989.
Jaworska, Janina. Nie wszystek umrę... Warsaw, 1975.
Aleksander Kulisiewicz papers, archives of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, Washington, DC.
Milton, Sybil and Janet Blatter. Art of the Holocaust. New York, 1981.