David Friedmann;painting to survive-My interview with his daughter Miriam.

David Friedmann’s story is not just a story of dealing with the horrors of the Holocaust but also a story of a second chance and hopes despite immense grief and hardships.

The artist David Friedmann was born in Mährisch Ostrau, Austria (now Ostrava, Czech Republic), but moved to Berlin in 1911. In 1944, Friedman was separated from his wife and daughter, never seeing them again, and was transferred to Auschwitz-Birkenau. Friedman survived his internment at the extermination camp. After the war he married fellow survivor Hildegard Taussig. After living in Israel for five years, the family immigrated to the United States in 1954, eventually becoming citizens and settling in St. Louis, where he worked as a commercial artist for an advertising company, later retiring in 1962

But rather me telling his story ,it is much better if this story is told by someone who was very close to him. His daughter Miriam Friedman Morris.

I had some email correspondence with Miriam before the interview and had asked her a few questions. I would like to share her answers

I would like to know though how he felt from being a decorated artist during WW1 and a well established and a renowned artist in Berlin, to having to flee his adopted hometown in 1938 because of the rise of Nazism?

David Friedmann’s talent for portraiture played a central role throughout his career and saved his life during the Holocaust. His art weaves a tapestry of the joys and horrors he experienced, witnessed, and chronicled. My father’s works are imbued with an added sense of historical accuracy, one made all the more resonate by his firsthand experience of some of the most important events in the 20th century. Numerous catastrophic interruptions took him away from his art. David Friedman painted for his life—from the trenches of World War I, under threat of Nazi SS officers and through his postwar journey from Czechoslovakia to Israel and finally, the United States. His work exemplifies defiance in the face of persecution, loss and tragedy. His art would not be silent. My father’s artwork shines a light on a dynamic life crushed by the Nazis and his indomitable inner strength to paint again.

What kept him going even after his first wife and child had been murdered?

My father wrote a diary for me when I was born. He begins with the loss of his wife and child. He had to overcome his crippling grief to build a new life. I turned the pages and saw carefully placed photos and newspaper articles in-between text with pointing arrows. He wrote about his first postwar art exhibition in Jan. 1946 and befriending a young woman named Hildegard Taussig. I learned the courageous stories of two heroes, my mother and father.

Undoubtedly he used his art as a way of therapy, but aside of his art did he talk about the horrors he witnessed to you and your mother?

No, for my father, it was too painful. He had locked his feelings in a kind of jail and closed the door. My mother told some info about my father’s first family, but mostly I learned about his life from his art. After my father’s death, my father’s diary was transcribed. I learned a great deal more about his life and even found clues to help in the search for lost artwork. The lost pieces of a renowned painter and graphics artist confirm the brilliant career the Nazis could not destroy.

After his retirement from commercial art in the early 1960’s, he returned to the Holocaust. Disturbed by the fact that people were forgetting the Holocaust, my father believed it was his obligation to make an indelible statement to all humankind. He wanted to impress upon their consciousness the ruthless persecution, torment, and atrocities practiced by the Nazis, so that it would never happen again. His tortured recollections would be transferred to paper and show the dehumanization and suffering of the Jew under Nazi rule. There would be no imagery or symbolism; his art would show the reality that only a victim could produce.

“I wish everyone had to take a good look at the artwork. They have to look at what persecution under the Nazi regime was, and it can happen again, for in America to be a Nazi, to be a Communist is not prohibited. Against an evil world I will work further and try to put my feelings down on canvas or paper against antisemitism, against race hatred of all people.”

Some of the paintings of ” the Because They Were Jews!” exhibition haunt me and are very powerful.

This is the response my father would have wanted to never forget the Holocaust”

On August 29,1944 David Friedmann was put on a transport from Lodz to Auschwitz Birkenau.

Painting by David Friedmann(courtesy of Miriam Friedman Morris)

It is the duty of all of us to never forget the Holocaust, because it can so easily happen again.

Sources

https://chgs.elevator.umn.edu/asset/viewAsset/57fbe5ec7d58ae7d76557594#57fbe5ea7d58ae7d76557593

https://www.yadvashem.org/yv/en/exhibitions/last_portrait/friedmann.asp

https://collections.ushmm.org/search/catalog/irn50039

https://www.visitnorman.com/events/testimony-the-life-and-work-of-david-friedman

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Art from a Limerick Artist.

2020-08-08

Wild swans at Castle Oaks’ Oil on canvas. Scenes from Ireland. By Louise Harrison.

 

Sources

https://www.facebook.com/ArtistLouiseHarrison/?__xts__%5B0%5D=68.ARBsHB0Om-VVO1Wy_WowAkJCoO7vmcZebM9cPwJqmEhze7Ju0XctDOeTrXK8in_H9dB8okjFXhKOqEEol_CPGKijdNnSUnupbwkXaAmVKv5spaNYhw8FbYmLVuZQq_bDfioPB08cb9-vNtb4-kaUvFWrxrGJXBvd3U6BV4010PVV6e3sE-_XICqFYHdxANVSa6I7XFG1-udGCyBHWxChsu4D7jMu0_9LQXqMHwLYPmoZH6yiUEh4UocIJwGPSBl3prqC30LcmmnqWQxcS-qBpCU5qj8INOn_hZ1a_zQtWeAlakXAAQwLO0CG7OJwNwCNPKwaO1SxiomMj3ccf-0

 

https://www.saatchiart.com/account/profile/1620991?fbclid=IwAR2szPS9uKSqG9PsyDZ-FBXFXfAduFY3coPTEIQjFMGa2G3_4cPXGfCGFik

 

 

 

Holocaust art by a survivor.

priest and rabbi

David Olère  was a  Jewish Polish-born French painter and sculptor best known for his explicit drawings and paintings based on his experiences as a Jewish Sonderkommando inmate at Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp.

He began to draw at Auschwitz-Birkenau during the last days of the camp, when the SS became less attentive. His work has an invaluable as evidence  documentary: there are no photos of what happened in the gas chambers and crematoria

Below are just some of his paintings. I believe they speak for themselves.

Arrival of a Convoy

convoy

Their Last Steps

steps

Selection for Gas Chambers

selection

the Remains of Children

children

The last one hit me hard.

 

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Source

http://fcit.usf.edu/Holocaust/gallery2/D38.HTM

Starry Night-Vincent.

Vincent

So many books have been written about the tormented artist,Vincent van Gogh , so there is no way I can add anything to his story.

My focus in this blog is about an event that took place this day, July 27th, 1890.

On 27 July 1890, aged 37, Van Gogh shot himself in the chest with a 7mm Lefaucheux à broche revolver.

gun

No one had witnessed the act and he died 30 hours after the incident.It is assumed the shooting took place in the wheat field in which he had been painting, or a local barn.The bullet was deflected by a rib and passed through his chest without doing apparent damage to internal organs – probably stopped by his spine. He was able to walk back to the Auberge Ravoux, where he was attended to by two doctors, but without a surgeon present the bullet could not be removed. The doctors tended to him as best they could, then left him alone in his room, smoking his pipe. The following morning Theo rushed to his brother’s side, finding him in good spirits. But within hours Vincent began to fail, suffering from an untreated infection resulting from the wound. He died in the early hours of 29 July. According to Theo, Vincent’s last words were: “The sadness will last forever”.

Van Gogh was distraught about his future because, in May of that year, his brother Theo had visited and spoke to him about needing to be stricter with his finances. Van Gogh took that to mean Theo was no longer interested in selling his art.

Vincent van Gogh died in the arms of his brother.

notification

Such a tragic life.

Starry night

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Mona Lisa smiles, but was she happy?

Mona Lisa

One of the most famous paintings, if not the most famous painting is the Mona Lisa,painted by Leonardo da Vinci.

In 1503 or 1504 Leonardo da Vinci was commissioned to paint Lisa del Giocondo (nee Gherardini), the painting became known as the Mona Lisa. Aged 15, real-life Lisa Gherardini married Florentine merchant Francesco del Giocondo. a modestly successful cloth and silk merchant, becoming his third wife. Lisa’s dowry( the money, goods, or estate that a woman brings to her husband or his family in marriage)was 170 florins and the San Silvestro farm near her family’s country home.

Francesco del Giocondo,regularly bought girls from North Africa and converted them to Christianity with many working as maids at the del Giocondo household. However there would have been too many to work in the household, it is therefor very likely he sold some of the girls as slaves.

husband

Lisa’s sister Camilla,  who was a nun, caused a scandal when she and some other nuns were accused of allowing four men to touch them indecently.

I wonder how much reasons did Lisa have to smile.

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Sources

Martin Kemp and Giuseppe Pallanti: Mona Lisa: The People and The Painting.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Suitcase

suitcase

A suitcase has a significant meaning , it indicates a change, often temporary and sometimes for an extended time, but no one ever expects the symbol of the end of a life.

Many songs have the word suitcase in their lyrics and it is often in a sad context like in the Beatles son Lady Madonna the line says “Friday night arrives without a suitcase” indicating yet another weekend has come still trying to make ends meet, without getting a break.

But a suitcase can also bring excitement for there is an imminent journey, heading to perhaps exotic places. A break from the daily grind, time to refresh yourself.Or it can signify a new start beginning.

suitcase 2

The Nazi’s had one plan for the Jews and one plan only they referred to it as ‘die Endlösung” or “Final Solution”, the eradication of all Jews.But just killing them wasn’t good enough they also had to be humiliated. They were also given false hope. They were told they were going to be resettled to the east, where they would have a ‘new beginning’.

All they could take though was one suitcase, they were instructed to mark their suitcases for later identification..

I have thought about this , what would I take if I was told I could take only 1 suitcase?. I would pack some clothes but above everything else I would pack things which were dear to me, photographs, keepsakes of family members,heirlooms and in my case also music.

I am sure that most people would pack similar things.Many Jews also believed they would return to their homes after the nightmare which was World War 2 was over, they didn’t know they would end up in an even worse nightmare . the holocaust, and they would never see their belongings or loved ones again for they were murdered often in the most brutal way possible. And even for those who survived their belongings would have been spread all over the world, the Nazis made sure of that.

They had special units who were tasked and specialized in stealing all belongings of the Jews and emptying the homes of Jews. Units like the Reichsleiter Rosenberg Taskforce.

seal 2

The stolen art would end up in places like Galerie nationale du Jeu de Paume in Paris, which was used by the likes of Hermann Göring as an art Supermarket where he could go in and take whatever he fancied, without paying anything for it. He didn’t even mind taking the so called Degenerate art.

Jeu

His henchman ,the art dealer Bruno Lohse, would ensure to get a good price for the stolen goods making himself and Göring wealthy men. Unlike Göring who committed suicide before he could be sentenced, Lohse would live a long and comfortable life, he died in 2007 aged 95. A few weeks after his death in May 2007, the seizure of a secret Zurich bank vault registered to Schönart Anstalt ( which had been under Lohse’s control since 1978) turned up a valuable Camille Pissarro painting stolen by the Gestapo from the Fischer family in 1938 when they fled the Nazis and left Vienna, as well as paintings of uncertain provenance by Monet and Renoir.

pisarro

Still to this day stolen jewelry,art and furniture is showing up and sold on antique markets all over Germany and other European countries.

Even the possibility to pass family belongings to future generations was denied to those who were murdered in the concentration camps and the death camps, often all that remains to remind us that they even existed is a suitcase with a name written on it.

Leon

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In the end Hitler and his mates were pathetic hypocrites.

loot 1

One of the things I can’t comprehend is the fact that no one appeared to be seeing through the lies and hypocrisy of the Nazi regime.

They saw they Jews as vermin and filth. And everything Jewish was forbidden, Jewish books were burned, Jewish music was banned. Basically in the eyes of Hitler and his cronies the Jews were a contaminated and tainted race.

Here is the thing if I find something tainted and contaminated I want nothing to do with it, and want to stay as far away from it and everything it came in contact with.

That is also the message the Nazi spread. However they were not afraid the steal art and valuables belonging to Jews. They even would go as far as taking the gold teeth or gold dental caps of those they had murdered in the gas chambers, to remelt the gold and use it again.

dental caps

They had an organisation dedicated to steeling art and valuables. The ‘Einsatzstab Reichsleiter Rosenberg’ or Reichsleiter Rosenberg Taskforce, were tasked to to confiscate:

  • precious manuscripts and books from national libraries and archives;
  • important artifacts of ecclesiastical authorities and Masonic lodges;
  • all valuable cultural property belonging to Jews.ERR_Seal

They must have been one of the busiest Nazi task force  by their own estimates until 17 October 1944, they transitioned, 1,418,000 railway wagons containing books and works of art as well as 427,000 tonnes by ship.Neuschwanstein Castle was the ERR’s principal storage facility, but they also used salt mines and other places.

castle

Some of the art was only found decades after the war and some was never found. Below are and valuables  just some impressions of the are recovered by the allied troops. The first picture is a famous picture and although it is not graphic it is nonetheless harrowing for it is a picture of gold rings, of victims of concentration camps.

Rings

Loot 2

loot 3

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The effects of Operation Market Garden are still being felt today.

Garden

Operation Market Garden started on September 17 1944. It was supposed to end the war in the Netherlands.But the operation failed, as a result the war was prolonged for several months,compounded with one of the severest winters on record it resulted in a famine for the northern provinces.

POW

But there was more,as a form of reprisal the Germans started stealing everything valuable they could find. although Market Garden failed the Germans knew the war was coming to an end and they would be on the losing side.

Dr J.H. Smidt van Gelder, the director of the children’s hospital in Arnhem, stored 6 works of art in a bank vault for safekeeping during the Second World War.

Dr

One of the pieces was a painting called The Oyster Meal by Jacob Ochtervelt The paintings were looted in January 1945, when the Nazis plundered the town.Although the instructions were given not to loot the banks a German officer called Temmler paid no attention to those instructions.

Even Himmler had warned about Temmler, he said he would bring disrespect to the Nazi party, killing millions was okay, but stealing art was disrespectful.

The painting then made a bit of a mysterious journey. In 1971 was acquired by the property  Harold Samuel,  it had  painting reappeared on the Swiss art market ,a few decades after the war, where Harold Samuel bought it

Harold Samuel  bequeathed the painting to the City of London Corporation in 1987, on condition that they be shown permanently in Mansion House.

The Commission for Looted Art in Europe uncovered the history of the painting and discovered the rightful owners. Samuel’s daughters agreed to waive the condition so that The Oyster Meal could be returned to Charlotte Bischoff van Heemskerck, the daughter of Dr van Gelder,she is now aged 97.

It was returned to her in November 2017.

The painting went  on auction at Sotheby’s in July 2018, and was sold for estimated value 1.6 Million Pounds Sterling.

oyster meal

 

 

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Sources

BBC

Sotheby’s

Rembrandt’s tragedies

Nachtwacht

There is this funny riddle, it goes like “What’s Rembrandt’s first name?” Rembrandt of course is his first name, his last name is van Rijn.

But unlike the riddle his life wasn’t funny. He suffered many tragedies in his life.He got married on June 22 1634 to Saskia van Uylenburgh.

Rembrandt en Saskia.JPG

Saskia was the cousin of a friend of Rembrandt,Hendrick van Uylenburgh, Hendrick was also an art dealer. and when Rembrandt first moved to Amsterdam he stayed with  van Uylenburgh.

Rembrandt and Saskia got married in the local church of St. Annaparochie without the any of Rembrandt’s family being present.

Their first born, a son by the name Rumbartus died in 1635, only 2 months after birth.Their first daughter Cornelia died in 1638, she was only 3 weeks old. Their second daughter also called Cornelia died in 1640 who barely lived for a month.

In 1941 their 4th child, a son called Titis was born.Saskia died in 1642 most likely from tuberculosis. Titus survived into adulthood and became a monk for a while.

Monk Titus

Rembrandt never remarried but he did have a long term relationship with Hendrickje Stoffels, who had initially been his maid. They had a daughter together in 1654, and to no surprise she was called Cornelia, who died in 1684 in Batavia, Java, Indonesia.

His son Titus did marry Magdalena van Loo, the daughter of a Silversmith.

Rembrandt outlived both Hendrickje, who died in 1663, and Titus, who died in 1668, leaving a baby daughter,Titia. He died within a year of his son, on 4 October 1669 in Amsterdam. His son’s wife and mother-in-law also died in 1669.

selfie

 

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Art of the Holocaust

2018-05-19

This will be a blog with vert few words but mostly pictures. Pictures drawn by victims of the Holocaust. The artists are unknown, or at least unknown to me. but the art tells a bleak story of daily life in the concentration camps.

The above picture is of a clergy man holding some sort of church service, in the right bottom corner a bible verse is mentioned. Matthew 24:24

“For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.”

Gas chamber

1

These speak for themselves

2

3a

4

The following pictures are all from the Ravensbrück concentration camp.

 

6

7

8

 

9

10

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