The last few weeks I had the privilege, to have been been invited to several on line presentations, organised by the Ghetto Fighters’ House.
The last two presentations were about the art of David Friedman and were presented by David’s daughter Miriam. I am also privileged to know Miriam.
David Friedmann (David Friedman, Dav. Friedmann) was an accomplished artist long before World War II and the Holocaust. As each of his options narrowed, he continued to produce art illustrating the events and personal experiences of his time. In December 1938, David fled from Berlin to Prague, escaping with only his artistic talent as a means to survive. In October 1941, he was deported to the Lodz Ghetto, then to camps Auschwitz-Birkenau and Gleiwitz I. He survived a Death March to Camp Blechhammer in Upper Silesia, where he was liberated on January 25, 1945 by the Red Army. He defied all odds to survive at the age of 51 years and paint again. His burning desire was to show the world the ruthless persecution, torment, and agony as practiced by the Nazis, in the hope that such barbarism would never happen again. In 1949, he fled Stalinist Czechoslovakia to Israel and later immigrated to the United States.
David Friedmann (1893-1980) depicted human fate as a refugee in Prague, as a prisoner in the Lodz Ghetto, in the Auschwitz subcamp Gleiwitz I, and as a survivor. During his three years in the Ghetto, he absorbed the unending misery he witnessed. With death before his eyes, through hunger and sickness, he worked strenuously on a series of artwork documenting the infernal daily struggle of the prisoners’ desperate situation. He wrote and illustrated a diary to publish at war’s end. He felt that, unless one had lived it, no one would believe the brutal inhumanity against the Jews. His art and diary would be his testimony, but they were destroyed. Torn out from his memory he produced a new art series to show to the world in the hope that such barbarism would never happen again.
David Friedmann’s (1893-1980) life’s work was Nazi-looted: oil paintings, watercolors, drawings, etchings and lithographs. From childhood, his daughter, Miriam Friedman Morris was drawn into her father’s epic life story, learning about his passion for art, his Holocaust experiences, and strong will to survive. Friedmann’s pursuit of justice inspired her quest to search for his lost art. With each new find, she gained insights into his life, an extraordinary view of his productive career amidst the rich, cultural life before Hitler. Each and every artwork tells a story, documents an event or captures the essence of a moment lost in time. Friedmann continues to live after his death via the passionate insistence of his art to emerge and be rescued from obscurity. In this fourth and final program in the series “Crafting Heritage: The Art of Holocaust Remembrance – A Homage to David Friedmann”, Miriam discusses with Liz Elsby her personal journey, which she calls a treasure hunt, in search of her father’s legacy. Like a love letter between a father and a daughter, she, as the daughter of survivors, second generation, has taken upon herself to commemorate her father and his artwork. We can all learn from David Friedman’s artwork, his diaries, his life-long career as an artist, but, as we saw in today’s program, we have a lot to learn through Miriam’s personal journey, about keeping the memory alive; passing on a family legacy to the world, and making that human connection that was tried and tested during the Holocaust, but never abandoned, as we have seen in this series through art and culture.