A Gathering Storm: The Vienna Papers, 1938

Art Exhibit will be open from November 8 through January 10th 
and is included with Museum admission.


“Without these papers one did not exist.
It was the beginning of what was to follow.”
—Ilie Wacs

When artist and former iconic coat designer Ilie Wacs began work with his sister on their memoir An Uncommon Journey, he rediscovered a suitcase stuffed with the family’s identity papers. The contents inspired Wacs to create “A Gathering Storm: The Vienna Papers, 1938,” a unique 15-piece collection of artwork, which  debuted at the Pamela Williams Gallery in Amagansett, New York. Deriving its imagery from stamps, seals, passports, script, and symbols of authority, the work focuses on the documentation required for Jews that began with Kristallnacht (Night of Broken Glass), a wave of state-sponsored anti-Jewish violence in Nazi-controlled areas on November 9th and 10th in 1938.

Today the family’s papers that inspired the art collection are part of the U.S. Holocaust Museum's permanent archives. Join Wacs and his sister, Deborah Strobin, for a special evening of art and history that includes first-hand accounts through the eyes of Wacs as a teen growing up in Vienna, the family’s escape to Shanghai, and their ongoing search to find out what happened to the local Nazi SS officer who surprisingly saved their lives.

Ilie Wacs and Deborah Strobin are Vienna-born siblings who escaped Nazi Austria along with their parents on the last boat to Shanghai during World War II. They are the authors of An Uncommon Journey—From Vienna to Shanghai to America A Brother and Sister Escape to Freedom During World War II.

Wacs is an artist and former fashion designer—best known for his iconic suit and coats—who studied art in Paris at the Ecole des Beaux Arts after World War II and then worked for designer Alex Maguy. He went to New York at the request of suit and coat maker Philip Magone and in the late sixties designed for coat maker Originala. In the early seventies, Wacs started designing suits and coats under his own label and made his mark designing fitted coats in vibrant colors with clean lines and simple cuts at a time when coats were boxy. His highly successful Ilie Wacs and Wacs Works lines spanned over two decades.

After retiring from his career in fashion, Wacs has devoted his time to painting with his works shown in New York galleries. He resides in New York City and Eastern Long Island.


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Due to heavy volume of school groups we advise visitors to come between 2:00pm and 5:00pm. Arriving earlier in the day may result in visitors being asked to come back at a later time. Please call ahead for availability

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