José Fosty

1919 (Dalhem, Belgium) - 2015 (Oupeye, Belgium)


"In the face of all the documents, [I want] the young generation to understand that the inmates, covered in mud or rubbish, beaten until they were half dead, injured or tortured, were able to keep their dignity. Only the executioner was without honour."

José Fosty was born in Dalhem, Belgium on 31 August 1919. He studied painting and fine arts in Saint-Luc near Liège.

During the German occupation, he was arrested for his involvement in the Belgian resistance and transported to Buchenwald in March 1943 as a "political Belgian". He was able to survive by trading pornographic drawings for bread and soup. He made friends with the French set designer Paul Goyard in the camp. In 1944‒45, they executed numerous sketches depicting the everyday life of inmates and the camp.

After liberation, Fosty and Goyard initially went to Paris, where they created sceneries together as well as the Buchenwald Diorama. In 1947, he returned to Belgium and studied visual arts at the Académie Saint-Luc near Liège. He got married and started a family in 1950. He earned a living painting toys as a miniature painter and, starting in the 1960s, as a postal sorter working the night shift. At the same time, he continued his artistic work, executing paintings and engravings. When his friend Goyard died in 1980, Fosty was in charge of the sketches and works from the time in the camp that his friend had left behind. From their joint ideas for projects, he created the cycle of etchings Les dimanches à Buchenwald in 1985. José Fosty lived with his wife in Visé, Belgium. He died in Oupeye on 25 May 2015.