Gedächtnisallee 5
D-92696 Flossenbürg

+49 9603-90390-0

Eliane Jeannin-Garreau

born March 18, 1911

  • Eliane Jeannin, 1939 (private collection)

Secret Drawings

The daughter of a factory owner from Bayonne, Eliane Jeannin began studying painting in Paris in 1933. She broke off her studies due to her father’s financial difficulties and eventually took a position at a bank.

Encouraged by General de Gaulle’s appeal to fight the occupiers, Jeannin joined the French Resistance. She worked for the underground press and sheltered victims of persecution in her apartment. In late August 1943, she was arrested by the German police, tortured, and placed in solitary confinement.

In mid-April 1944, she arrived at the Flossenbürg Holleischen subcamp via the Compiègne police detention camp and the Ravensbrück concentration camp. She succeeded in obtaining drawing materials, secretly sketched her surroundings, and painted playing cards for her fellow inmates. However, she refused to allow the Nazis to exploit her talent as an artist in the camp workshops. As punishment, she was transferred to a construction crew.

  • Drawing in pencil by Eliane Jeannin from the concentration camp Ravensbrück, 1944 (Ravensbrück Concentration Camp Memorial)

    Eliane Jeannin drew secretly, even during her imprisonment in Ravensbrück. Her fellow prisoners kept her sketches hidden until their liberation. No drawings have survived from the Holleischen subcamp.

Eliane Jeannin returned to her home after liberation. In 1948, she married Roger Garreau. Outraged by the ongoing denial of Nazi crimes, in the early 1990s she recorded her painful memories, publishing a series of pictures and a report on her deportation. Eliane Jeannin-Garreau died in Issy-les-Moulineaux in 1999.

Drawing materials of Eliane Jeannin (loan by Garreau family, Paris)

After the death of Eliane Jeannin-Garreau, her family members found pencils, paper and erasers in the seam of her prison uniform, which she had saved since her return from the camp.