Magdalena Valk (call name Leni) was born in Goch on 28 September 1933 as the only child of her Jewish parents.
She had to watch the Goch synagogue burning down during the Kristallnacht 1938 from the window of her parents' house. Her father Walter was then arrested and transported to Dachau, where he was released from a few months later. Leni herself was taken by her mother Erna to Leeuwarden in the Netherlands, where she attended school for the first time in 1939. In 1941, her parents, who had stayed in Goch, were deported to Riga. Leni did not know about this. In October 1942, she was taken to the Westerbork collection camp and deported from there to the Sobibór concentration camp together with her uncle Isaak and her aunt Hertha on 18 May 1943. They were murdered on 21 May 1943. Leni was not even ten years old.
Leni's parents Erna and Walter Valk returned to Goch in June 1945. Only later they learned of the death of their daughter, who as they thought would be safe.
During the street art festival “Goch History Meets Street Art” in Goch 2021, a mural was created to commemorate Leni’s fate and keep the memory about her story alive.
A family portrait was painted on a wall at Susbrücke 2 nearby a park, where Leni often went for a walk. In this very park, nearby the mural, her father Walter proposed marriage to Leni’s mother Erna.
Leni herself is absent from this mural and only her outline is represented by a monochrome silhouette.
At all places in Goch, where Leni lived and stayed, such as her parents' house (today Brückenstr. 37), the former men's and boys' clothing shop of her father Walter on the market square, the former house of one of her relatives at Herzogenstr. 36 (to which they had to move because as a Jewish family they were no longer allowed to live in a house with German families) are an addition to the central mural.
The figure of Leni, which was replaced by a silhouette in the central mural, now reappears as a complete person in these places where Leni once lived. She is placed on the house facades of these places. These portraits are carried out with the stencil technique, so that every portrait is similar at all places, where it appears.
The secondary modern school in Goch is named after Leni Valk. The headmaster asked to receive one of Leni’s portraits as well and so one of the portraits is at a place, where Leni might not have been.
However, Leni Valk's stencil did not only to appear in Goch, but it also shows the child's life path from 1938 onwards.
In August 2023, the Westerbork Memorial Museum received Leni’s portrait on a wooden board. It will be presented
in their permanent collection.
The Sobibór Museum and Memorial site of the former concentration camp is presenting the biographies of inmates and the people who were murdered in electronical information screens. At Leni Valk’s presentation, the mural project is presented as well.
(Photo courtesy of Memorial Museum Sobibòr.)