Herbert Sandberg

1908 (Posen) - 1991 (Berlin)

Painter, Graphic Designer and Illustrator

"It was … in Buchenwald Concentration Camp … in the semi-darkness of a corner, that I began … to make thirty sketches for woodcuts – the story in pictures of a young inmate, to whom I imparted the knowledge and experiences that I had gained before and during my captivity."



Herbert Sandberg was born in Posen on 4 April 1908. In 1925 he studied art in Breslau under Otto Mueller and others. From 1926 onwards he worked as a newspaper artist for publications including the Berliner Tageblatt and Rote Post. In 1928 he moved to Berlin, where he became a member of the Rote Hilfe ("Red Aid") and the International Workers’ Aid. In 1933 he carried out illegal resistance activities for the German Communist Party.

After being held for five months at Berlin-Plötzensee, Sandberg was sentenced in 1934 to three years in prison (at Brandenburg-Görden). In July 1937 he was taken from police headquarters in Berlin to Buchenwald Concentration Camp (as a "political" and a Jew). At different times he was set to work in the construction detachment and as a draughtsman for a proof-of-ancestry document in the Pathology Department. He was a member of the illegal camp organization.

After liberation, Sandberg and Günther Weisenborn co-edited the satirical magazine Ulenspiegel until 1950. In the years that followed he was a draughtsman, graphic artist, stage designer and illustrator, and published numerous books; he worked, though not continuously, for Neues Deutschland and also as the editor of Bildende Kunst. In 1967, having previously won various other awards, he received the Art Prize of the German Democratic Republic. In 1972 he was appointed to a professorship. In 1973 he was awarded the GDR National Prize, Second Class.

Herbert Sandberg died in Berlin on 18 March 1991.