Original comic watercolor documenting life aboard a post-World War II U.S. Army ship transporting displaced persons from Europe to a new life in the Americas. By Sulima W.
Original comic watercolor documenting life aboard a post-World War II U.S. Army ship transporting displaced persons from Europe to a new life in the Americas
Original comic watercolor documenting life aboard a post-World War II U.S. Army ship transporting displaced persons from Europe to a new life in the Americas
Original comic watercolor documenting life aboard a post-World War II U.S. Army ship transporting displaced persons from Europe to a new life in the Americas
Original comic watercolor documenting life aboard a post-World War II U.S. Army ship transporting displaced persons from Europe to a new life in the Americas

Original comic watercolor documenting life aboard a post-World War II U.S. Army ship transporting displaced persons from Europe to a new life in the Americas

U.S. Army Transport ship USAT General W. M. Black: [1948]. Unbound. This original line and wash watercolor measures 14.25” x 12.25”. It is titled “Voyage No 5 Bremerhaven, Germany – Valparaiso, Chile” and the name of the ship, General W. M. Black, is prominently shown in the colorful drawing along with refugees killing time on their voyage to a new home in South America. The artist has included an image of himself painting a portrait of one of the ship’s crew.

This is life the way it was on the ship without much exaggeration: sunbathing, romance, citrus fruits, kindly crewmembers, an IRO worker, MPs, card-playing, seasickness, and smoking under a blue sky and smiling sun. It would appear that the artist, Sulima, was one of the refugees as he portrays himself in a painter’s smock and beret rather than a uniform. The artwork is in very nice shape. Very good. Item #009209

By the end of World War II, 20 million people had been driven from their homes. Some had survived concentration camps, some had fled Communist regimes, some were Germans from destroyed cities, but most were slave laborers brought to Germany and France to work in factories and build coastal defenses. Despite Allied efforts at repatriation, more than 800,000 men, women, and children remained in camps run by the International Relief Organization until 1948 when some nations agreed to allow their immigration.

40 troopships of the U.S. Army Transportation Service made 150 trips to transport the refugees to new homes in England, Australia, Canada, the United States and South America; Chile accepted over 5,100 from a mix of Baltic, Central, and Eastern European countries. There are a number of personal accounts of these voyages, bittersweet in that they express a sorrow over leaving their homelands forever, but anxiously joyful with the expectation to begin a new life in freedom. All, however, express amazement at their time spent aboard the troopships where many ate citrus fruit for the first time and food was plentiful and relatively tasty. Commissaries and exchanges provided soft drinks, sweets, and cigarettes. Often dozens of languages were spoken. And those in charge, the ships crews, IRO staff, and military police provided benevolent oversight. They universally describe rough Atlantic seas, the passengers’ constant seasickness, and the inescapable resultant malodorous stench as the most unpleasant part of the voyages.

An absolutely unique visual record of the Army’s humanitarian effort to resettle displaced persons following the war. As of 2018, nothing remotely similar is for sale in the trade or held by institutions per OCLC. As well, there are no similar auction records in the Rare Book Hub database.

Price: $1,250.00

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