Truposznica (Corpse Carrier)

1889 – Franciszek Wacek was born in Przysietnica in southern Poland. During World War II he fought both in the Polish army and with a partisan unit. His daughter recalls: “three times he was almost a corpse. […] they lay among corpses, playing dead.” (Personal interview, 2017).

August 10th, 1942 – approximately one thousand Jews were executed in the forest in nearby Brzozów-Zdrój, the final stage of the liquidation of the Brzozów ghetto. According to a commemorative plaque in the town, “they were loaded onto covered trucks and transported to the forest, where they were forced to undress and were led, naked, to their place of execution.”

1944 – Zofia, Franciszek’s daughter, was born, and later became a recipient of his postwar stories.

1945–1967 – Franciszek Wacek carved a small toy car out of wood.

1967 – Franciszek Wacek made larger replica of the toy car (length: 61 cm, width: 21 cm) at the request of ethnographers from the National Ethnographic Museum in Warsaw. It was titled Truposznica. Auto z Treblinki (Corpse Carrier, or Auto from Treblinka), and remains in the museum’s collection today.

2017 – Zofia Winnicka (née Wacek) in a conversation with Erica Lehrer said: “Daddy first made them for us and wanted to show us the war, wanted to show us… made soldiers, made cannons, made everything. And then [the ethnographers] liked what they saw, what the children played with, but they were tiny exhibits, so they asked Dad to make bigger ones.”

2018 – photo of the Corpse Carrier by Wojtek Wilczyk for the series Zbliżenia (Close-ups).

2018/19 – the exhibition Terribly Close: Polish Vernacular Artists Face the Holocaust on display at the Seweryn Udziela Ethnographic Museum in Kraków.

January 2019 – ninety white plastic copies of Corpse Carrier are made using 3D printing based on a design by Joanna Krokosz (size: 21×12×10 cm).

February 2019 90/100, a community performance by Wojtek Ziemilski, is carried out together with the Curatorial Collective of the Jagiellonian University Polish Studies Department, the Cricoteka museum, and the Kraków Ethnographic Museum.

Spring 2019 – photo and video documentation of the performance completed and put online (various authors)

October 2019 – a new 3D model of Joanna Krokosz’s copy of the Corpse Carrier — this time in black plastic — is printed in Montreal and displayed at Concordia University’s Curating and Public Scholarship Lab in the exhibition Tactless: touching Holocaust memory.