When Maurice Blik came in to The Wiener Library to do research, his story immediately caught the attention of Archivist Howard Falksohn.
I was 6 years old on a train leaving Bergen-Belsen just before it was liberated. For 14 days the train meandered around. I had found a place to sleep under the wooden seat and woke one morning to the sound of shouting and cheering unlike anything I had heard before. I climbed up on the seat, looked out and saw hordes of men on horseback–Russian Cossacks–and incredible excitement as they rescued us. We stayed with them in Trobitz where they took every opportunity to show off their horsemanship.
More than 30 years later I was living in London with my wife who was a potter making domestic ware, bowls, beakers, etc. One of her clients who had a business making horse tack, bridles, saddles and so on, wanted to give a trophy for ‘Young Rider of the Year’. He had in mind a sculpture of a horse’s head. While they were discussing this, I had a sudden urge to get some clay from her pottery and made half a dozen or so horses’ heads about 10-15 centimeters high. I hadn’t touched a piece of clay for 15 years. One thing led to another and I finished up making the trophy.
My marriage was pretty much over and this didn’t help. I moved out of the house but carried on making lots more horse head sculptures and I became successful at showing in galleries and selling, eventually launching my career as a sculptor.
During therapy in those dark times of the divorce, the connection of the vivid memory of the Cossacks’ horses and my unconscious urge to make the horse’s head, became clear. Twice I got my life back and the horses were powerful symbols of those times.
You can find out more about Maurice Blik’s artwork at his website.
This story was submitted by Howard Falksohn, Archivist at The Wiener Library, with images provided by Maurice Blik. The Library has an extensive collection of eyewitness accounts and personal memoirs in the archives.