Concentration Camp Card Deck from Dachau, 1945


The University of Minnesota Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies has scanned and published a full set of playing cards created in 1945 by an inmate at the Dachau concentration camp. They are the size of normal playing cards.

Boris Kobe (1905 - 1981) – Slovenian architect and painter was a political prisoner at the concentration camp of Allach, a sub-camp of Dachau. (...) As a whole, this work of art represents a visual summary of life in a concentration camp, the main vehicle of which consists of Kobe's tragic and humiliating sequences spiced with acrid humor. At the same time, this tiny exhibit is a miniature chronicle of the twilight of humanity brought about by Nazism, which regarded a human being, and therefore the artist himself, as a mere number.

Link. (Thanks, Yaffa)

Reader comments: Doug Rushkoff says,

FYI: It's not a full deck. it's most of a deck, but he either didn't finish it or some was lost.

Jody Wickson says,

The university's article unfortunately fails to put these cards in their proper context. The author seems to be unfamiliar with Tarot decks used for card games.

This deck is based on a conventional Austrian style Tarot (or Tarock) design in which the trumps and court cards are double figured and the suit signs are hearts, spades, diamonds, and clubs. Link.

This type of Tarot deck is not used for the occult or for divination. It is only used for playing Tarot/Tarock card games.

I am also disapointed that the "all about the occult" link is a very biased anti-occult sermon which is unrelated to the type of Tarot (gaming, not fortune telling) depicted in the article. The article gives the unfortunate and false impression that these cards were used for the occult. Not all of Tarot is related to the occult or fortune telling. In fact, Tarot cards were originally designed in the 15th century for playing a card game and the fortune telling practices date no earlier than the 18th century.

Here is a link which I think better explains the cultural context of this type of Tarot deck.