I am not saying I am a great lover of art but the fact that I am from a nation that has produced some of the greatest artist in history, probably means there is a bit or “artist” DNA in me.
During WWII many Jewish artists were butchered by the Nazi regime. What the Nazi’s didn’t envisage is that you can kill the artist but his legacy will live on, for they put their heart and soul in their work.
The 2 paintings above were painted by Felix Nussbaum (11 December 1904 – 9 August 1944) was a German-Jewish surrealist painter. Nussbaum’s artwork gives a rare glimpse into the essence of one individual among the victims of the Holocaust.
1944 was the year in which the plans of Nazi Germany had the greatest impact on the Nussbaum family. In July, Nussbaum and his wife were found hiding in an attic by German armed forces. They were arrested, sent to the Mechelen transit camp and given the numbers XXVI/284 and XXVI/285. On August 2 they arrived at Auschwitz, and a week later Felix was murdered at the age of 39.
In this time period, Nussbaum created two of his best-known works: Self Portrait with Jewish Identity Card (1943), and Triumph of Death
Born in Warsaw, Poland (1884 – 1943),Although trained as an architect, Georges Ascher arrived in Paris in 1925 and devoted himself entirely to painting. Later, he moved with his family to the port town of La Ciotat where he mainly painted landscapes, still life compositions, and Jewish themes. Ascher exhibited at the Salon d’Automne of 1933..
In 1943, he was arrested and sent to the concentration camp of Gurs. Most of his work has since disappeared.
Born in Quimper (Brittany), France (1876 – 1944)
Poet, writer, art critic, and painter, Max Jacob passed through a religious crisis and converted to Catholicism in 1915. At his baptism, Picasso served as his godfather. In 1917, he published a collection of poems, and in 1921 retired to the Benedictine Abbey at St. Benoit sur L’Oise. In the following years, and particularly from 1926 well into the 1930s, Jacob’s creative output in the visual arts was at its peak. He exhibited regularly at the Percier and the Georges Petit Galleries.
Despite his conversion and entry into a monastery, Jacob was arrested and interned in Drancy, where he died on March 5, 1944.
Born in Drochobitch (Galicia), Poland (1895 – ?)
Joachim Weingart received a traditional Jewish education as well as a secular education. He studied at the Weimar School of Applied Arts in 1912 and later at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna. He then moved to Berlin, where he worked with Archipenko for two years. After World War I, Weingart returned to Galicia, worked and exhibited in Lvov, and moved to Paris in 1925. In Paris, Weingart continued painting and exhibited his work in the official salons and in galleries, but he underwent a mental crisis that, no doubt, changed the course of his life and work. He spent two years in a mental hospital, where he created some of his finest works.
In April 1942, Joachim Weingart was interned in the camp of Pithiviers and was deported to Auschwitz on July 7, 1942.
Born in Odziwal, Poland (1893 – 1942)
Jacques Cytrynovitch received a traditional Jewish education as well as a vocational education. During World War I, he was interned in a coal mine by the Germans, but he subsequently participated in the November 1918 revolution in Berlin. Following the war, he moved to Paris in response to a long-standing invitation by Naum Arenson, who had met him before the war and encouraged him to come to Paris. Cytrynovitch worked with Arenson and Bourdelle, creating sculptures that were true to nature, with an inclination toward the monumental. He exhibited his work at the Salon d’Automne and in various galleries. Work by Cytrynovitch can be found in private collections and museums, including the Philadelphia Art Museum.
Cytrynovitch was arrested in July 1941 as he was trying to cross the demarcation line into southern France, which was still free. He was deported to Auschwitz, where he died on July 27, 1942.
Moise (Moshe) Kogan
Born in Orgeiew (or Argeiur), Bessarabia (1879 – ?)
Moise Kogan was educated in the spirit of Jewish tradition, but in 1903 he enrolled in the Art Academy of Munich. In 1910, he moved to Paris, where he was both influenced and appreciated by Maillol. While exhibiting his work at the Salon d’Automne in 1925, Kogan was elected vice president of the sculpture committee, a remarkably unusual appointment for an émigré artist. Kogan also exhibited in other Parisian galleries, as well as in Berlin, Leipzig, Hamburg, Munich, and other German cities. Kogan made terracotta figurines and marble, wood, and limestone sculptures, which were very appealing to art lovers in Paris. He was also a master of woodcut, linocut, and lithography. He was interested in the Bible, Jewish history, and mysticism, as well as cultures of the East. His works can be found in museums and private collections in Europe, America, and Israel.
Kogan was arrested by the Vichy Police and interned in the concentration camp at Drancy. He was deported to a death camp on February 22, 1943.
A memorial exhibition of Kogan’s work was held at the Zak Gallery in Paris in 1947.
Born in Warsaw, Poland (1885 – 1942)
Roman Kramsztyk studied art in Munich from 1904-1908. “For 30 years – from [his] debut in the Warsaw Zachta [the Warsaw Society for the Encouragement of Fine Arts] in 1909 up to 1939 – Kramsztyk was one of the most important participants in Polish artistic life. Even though he had been living in Paris since 1911 (with an interlude during the years 1915-1922) and regularly presented his works at Salons (des Indépendants, Automne, and des Tuilleries), he had never broken ties with his homeland.”* Continuing to take part in Polish exhibitions (e.g. the First Exhibition of Polish Expressionists in Krakow, 1917 and the Exhibition of Polish Legions in Lublin, 1917), Kramsztyk “… was co-founder of the ‘Rytm’ Society of Polish Artists – one of the most important artistic groups of the twenty years between the wars.
In 1939 Kramsztyk’s mother died in Warsaw, where the war trapped him. In 1940, he moved into the Warsaw Ghetto and on August 6, 1942 “…he was shot during the so-called Grossaktion, the operation that liquidated the Warsaw Ghetto.
In 1997, the Jewish Historical Institute of Warsaw mounted a major retrospective and published a complete catalog of Kramsztyk’s works.
The last picture is another one by Felix Nussbaum. His paintings vividly tell the story of his Holocaust.
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