“WITH HER DRAWINGS, AAT PORTRAYED THE FULL HORROR OF LIFE IN THE CAMP.”
Aat was a drawing teacher in The Hague. In September 1940 she married a former member of the International Brigades and communist Krijn Breur. They had two children: a son Wim and a daughter Dunya. From the very beginning of the war, Krijn and Aat were involved in the resistance movement. Krijn carried out assassinations, Aat forged personal documents. They also hid Jews in their house but were betrayed and arrested on 19 November 1942. Aat and her daughter were taken to a prison in Scheveningen and then to the Wehrmacht Gefängnis in Utrecht. In June 1943 she was put on a transport. Thanks to the prison director, who was well-disposed towards her, she was able to hand Dunya to her parents when she left.
On 10 September 1943, Aat arrived as a Nacht und Nebel prisoner in Ravensbrück. Thanks to the guards, she got a job in a bookbinding shop, where she would draw cards for the birth of children for the Germans. She was able to get scraps of paper and on them she drew her fellow prisoners. These drawings were hidden.
On 1 March 1945, Aat was transferred to the Strafblock, which was practically equivalent to a death sentence. One doctor, however, pulled Aat out of line and pinned the camp number of a dead prisoner on her, thus saving her life.
After the camp was liberated, Aat was repatriated to the Netherlands in July 1945, where it was found that she was suffering from tuberculosis. She therefore had to be treated for a long time in Davos. She also suffered from camp trauma, which greatly affected her son and daughter’s childhood.
In the autumn of 1945, she got her drawings back from the camp thanks to a fellow prisoner who had saved them. Aat hid them in a suitcase and did not want to know anything more about them. Only in 1980 did Aat’s daughter manage to break her mother’s silence and the suitcase could be opened. When the drawings were restored and exhibited in the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, they attracted a lot of attention. Dunya used the drawings in her book Een Verborgen Herinnering (A Hidden Memory), which was published in 1983. For Aat, it was a kind of release. Finally, she could talk about the concentration camp.
Aat was a strong and brave woman who painted, drew and also taught painting until old age.
A friend of Aat Breur-Hibma