History GCSE: Maurice Blik confronts the impact of his experiences

Internationally renowned sculptor Maurice Blik talks about how his experience as a 5-year-old in Bergen-Belsen has influenced him and his work.

Building towards his new exhibition, he recounts the moment when his baby sister died in the camp.

Almost 40 years after Maurice started sculpting, he is only just coming to terms with how this experience during the Holocaust has influenced his life and the choices that he has made. He has recently started to understand that sculpture has been a way of working through his experiences of the Holocaust. He explains how, in the past, the process of sculpting has felt tortuous as a result of this.

Maurice emphasises the importance of doing something that has meaning, and which helps him to feel he is leaving his mark. He also discusses the lasting feelings of guilt that are associated with surviving.

Maurice Blik was born in Amsterdam in 1939 and was deported to Belsen with his mother and two sisters. His younger sister Millie and father were both killed in the Holocaust. As well as Belsen, Maurice survived Westerbork concentration camp.

Maurice is an internationally renowned artist. He was a past president of the Royal British Society of Sculptors and has been awarded honorary US citizenship as ‘a person of extraordinary artistic ability’.

This clip is from the BBC series, The Last Survivors.

Due to the sensitive nature of the subject matter, we strongly advise teacher viewing before watching with your students.

Teacher Notes

Discuss how Maurice has used art as a way to process his trauma and to heal

Why might people feel guilty when they survive something terrible?

For years Maurice didn’t want to be defined by his experiences but ultimately, he couldn’t escape them. Do you think that this is always the case?

Maurice survived the concentration camp Bergen-Belsen. Use his experience as a way to learn about what type of camp Belsen was and what happened there.

Curriculum Notes

This short film will be relevant for teaching history at GCSE and above in England, Wales and Northern Ireland and National 4/5 and above in Scotland.

More from The Last Survivors

Frank Bright recounts the fate of his former classmates
Anita Lasker-Wallfisch addresses German Parliament
Manfred Goldberg confronts the death of his brother
Ivor Perl returns to Auschwitz with his daughter
Sam Dresner grapples with his memories of the Holocaust