Jan Komski was born in Poland, in 1915. He graduated in 1939 from the Academy of Fine Arts in Krakow. The beginning of WWII shattered his plans for the future as a professional painter. The German Gestapo captured him when he tried to flee Poland to join the Polish army in France, in the spring of 1940. He was sent to Auschwitz on June 14, 1940. He spent the next 5 years in various concentration camps (Auschwitz, Buchenwald, Hersbruck, Gross-Rosen and Dachau). The United State Army liberated him from the Dachau concentration camp on April 15, 1945. In 1949, he and his family came to the United States.
Jan Komski has exhibited his paintings about life in the concentration camps, as well as all his watercolor and oil paintings. The exhibits have been in Fairfax, VA; Holocaust Museum, Houston, TX; De Paul University, Chicago, IL; and Washington D.C. In addition, Komski donated 40 paintings to the Auschwitz Museum in Poland. The filmmaker Bert Von Bork used his stories and paintings for the documentary film "Eyewitness", which portrays the life of four different artists from Auschwitz. This film was nominated for an Oscar Award in 2000.
Jan Komski died in January 2002, at the age of 87. He painted almost to the end of his life. His wife donated a collection of his work about his life in the concentrations camps, including 69 pen and ink drawings and 37 watercolor and acrylic paintings, to the Committee for the preservation of Artwork in Florida.