In the early spring and summer of 1945, Doris Zinkeisen volunteered her services as a war artist to the North West Europe Commission of the Joint War Organisation of the British Red Cross and Order of St John as it moved into newly liberated Europe. She recorded the activities of the Commission in supporting the post war relief, rehabilitation and repatriation of prisoners of war and civilian internees. She was stationed in Brussels at the Commission's headquarters, which had been the German headquarters during the occupation: ‘I was sent all over the continent to make sketches which I brought back to work out in my studio. If the distance was too great to travel by lorry, I went to the RAF just up the road from our headquarters and got a lift by air.’ Doris was a well-known artist, trained at the Royal Academy Schools, and had exhibited her work in London, Paris and the United States. She had also helped to nurse wartime Blitz casualties in London. Both Doris and her sister Anna, who was also a talented artist, had first trained as VADs during the First World War.
Evelyn Bark, of the Joint War Organisation, remembers seeing Doris at work at the liberated Belsen camp: ‘She arrived at Belsen while I was there, and I watched her start a painting of the saddle-room, where camp survivors were washed and disinfected.’
Where to see this painting?
British Red Cross Museum and Archives
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