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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J.D. -The Forgotten WWII Hero.

2019-11-05

This most be one of the most intriguing WWII stories,not is it only one of those rare positive WWII stories it also ties in to WWI and the effects of it still apply today.

We have no name for this hero, all we know him as is J.D. .  We know of J.D is that he was a Polish immigrant who worked as a steel worker in the US. We also know he had Lymphoma which is a  blood cancer that develop from lymphocytes (a type of white blood cell). He was terminally ill and did  not have long to live. He was incased in tumors.

J.D was the first patient to be treated with a Chemotherapy.

Milton Winternitz at Yale, who had worked on sulfur mustards in WWI, managed to get a contract to study the chemistry of the mustard compounds from the U.S. Office of Scientific Research and Development. He approached two pharmacologists from the Yale School of Medicine, Louis S. Goodman and Alfred Gilman,  to investigate potential therapeutic applications of chemical warfare agents.

Goodman and Gilman’s initial plan was to create anti dotes to mustard gas.They were afraid of a repeat of WWI. They discovered that soldiers who had been exposed to Mustard gas in WWI had a surprisingly low whit blood cell count.

They then  reasoned that this agent could be used to treat lymphoma. Initially they  set up an animal model by creating  lymphomas in mice and showed they could treat them with mustard agents. Next, in co-operation with a thoracic surgeon, Gustaf Lindskog, they injected a related agent, mustine (the prototype nitrogen mustard anticancer chemotherapeutic), into the  patient only known as J.D.  He had volunteered for the test he had non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. He got his first injection on August 27 at 10.00 AM, 1943  They noticed  a dramatic reduction in the patient’s tumor masses .Although the effect lasted only a few weeks, and the patient had to return for another set of treatment, it would the first step to the realization that cancer could be treated by pharmacological agents.

Although J.D’s life was only prolonged for a few months it had given him at least a few reasonably good months.

2019-11-05 (1)

Although  the study was concluded in 1943 , due to  the secrecy associated with the war gas program, the results were not published until 1946.the publication of the first clinical trials was reported on October 6 1946 in the New York Times.

All the chemo therapies that followed work bascially on the same mechanism.

If it had not been for J.D. the treatment for cancer may have been completely different today. Therfore I believe he really was a WWII Hero.

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Sources

BBC

https://cancerres.aacrjournals.org/content/68/21/8643

New York Times

The Nine Sovereigns at Windsor for the funeral of King Edward VII.

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I have often wondered If World War I was nothing else then a family feud gone out of control.

If you look at all the royal families in Europe and even outside of Europe, they are mostly all related  in one way or another. There is nothing more clearer indicating this then a picture which was taken after the funeral of King Edward VII of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland and Emperor of India occurred on Friday, 20 May 1910.(picture above)

Standing, from left to right: King Haakon VII of Norway-  the late King’s nephew by marriage/son-in-law and fourth cousin (once removed);Tsar Ferdinand of the Bulgarians-  the late King’s second cousin; King Manuel II of Portugal and the Algarve,-the late King’s fourth cousin;Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany and Prussia- the late King’s nephew;  King George I of the Hellenes(Greece) – the late King’s brother-in-law/fourth cousin and King Albert I of the Belgians- the late King’s second cousin.

Seated, from left to right: King Alfonso XIII of Spain-the late King’s nephew-in-law; King George V of the United Kingdom- the late King’s son; and King Frederick VIII of Denmark-the late King’s brother-in-law/fourth cousin.

These nine Sovereigns all had direct connection but most of the other Royal dignitaries also had direct or indirect ties.

Only 4 years later most of the sovereign states these men. were head of state of would be at war.

Two of the main nations at war German and Great Britain had direct blood ties.As a grandchild of Queen Victoria, Wilhelm II was a first cousin of the future King George V.

(Wilhelm with his father, in Highland dress, in 1862)

wilhem kilt

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Zeppelins,Bombing and Chocolate

Zeppelin

Ever since I was a young lad I was interested in WWII,mainly because I had a personal connection to it. But for some reason I was never really that interested in WWI, probably because the Netherlands had managed to stay out of it.

However the last few years I have become more interested in the so called ‘Great war’ the war which was supposed to end all wars, but as we know now it didn’t and in fact one of the consequences of WWI was WWII.

I only recently found out that Britain had been subjected to a Blitz like warfare during World  War i, it had been bombed a great number of times not only by airplanes but more so by Zeppelins.

On the night of 19–20 January 1915, Britain was bombed for the first time in its history. The target was  Greater Yarmouth.The Zeppelin designated L 3  was the first airship  raid to wreak havoc in  England on that fateful night.

Yarmouth

It was operated by a crew of fifteen. The dirigible was 518 feet, 2 inches (158 meters) long with a diameter of 48 feet, 6 inches (14.8 meters).

The first 2 ever civilian casualties caused by an air raid were Martha Taylor and Samuel Smith.

talot

In total  about 51 bombing raids were made by airships  on Britain during the war. These killed 557 and injured another 1,358 people. More than 5,000 bombs were dropped on towns across Britain, causing £1.5 million in damage. 84 airships took part, of which 30 were either shot down or lost in accidents. Airplanes carried out 27 raids.

It was very difficult to hunt for Zeppelins despite their size, additionally it was hard to bring them down, The metal frame protected them from bullets fired from airplanes. A new sort of bullet had to be designed. The answer came via incendiary ammunition .Incendiary bullets called “Buckingham” ammunition were supplied to early British night fighters for use against these Zeppelins . The flammable hydrogen gas of the zeppelins made incendiary bullets much more deadly than standard ones which would pass through the outer skin without igniting the gas.

BULLETS

On the evening of 5 August 1918 Sir Egbert “Bertie” Cadbury made hunt for the L 70.  which took off from Friedrichshafen with four other airships.

The commander of the L 70 was Peter Strasser the chief commander of German Imperial Navy Zeppelins and one of the architects of the Zeppelin air raids.

Strasser

Cadbury had been  attending a charity concert at which his wife was performing when an RAF orderly found him. Cadbury drove back to the airfield, where he was informed that three Zeppelins had been reported about 50 miles  to the north-east, and knowing there was only one aircraft available, an Airco DH.4.

airco

Cadbury gathered  his flying kit and ran for the airplane .With Captain Robert Leckie in the rear gunner’s seat, Cadbury climbed up to over 16,000 feet  by jettisoning his reserve fuel and some small bombs, where he saw three Zeppelins ahead and above him. He later recounted:[

“At 22.20 we had climbed to 16,400 feet and I attacked the Zeppelin ahead slightly to the port so as to clear any obstruction that might be suspended from the airship. It was a most fascinating sight – awe inspiring – to see this enormous Zeppelin blotting the whole sky above one. The tracers ignited the escaping gas, the flames spreading rapidly and turning the airship into a fireball in less than a minute. The L.70 dived headlong into the clouds. It was one of the most terrifying sights I have ever seen to see this huge machine hurtling down with all those crew on board.”

The other airships dropped their bombs blind, relying on radio bearings for navigational information but none fell on land. An attempt was made to salvage the wreckage of L 70 and most of the structure was brought ashore, providing the British a great deal of technical information. The bodies of the crew members were buried at sea.

This L 70 raid was to be last raid on Britain by Zeppelins.

After the war Cadbury resumed his job at  the family business, joining J. S. Fry & Sons, with which Cadbury’s had merged in 1918,  soon he  became the  managing director. Along with Cecil Roderick Fry, Cadbury  was pivotal in relocating Fry’s manufacturing operations from Bristol to Somerdale Garden City. At its height, the Somerdale workforce numbered over 5,000.

egbert

On 29 August 1939, Cadbury was appointed honorary air commodore of No. 928 (County of Gloucester) Squadron, a Balloon Barrage Squadron of the Auxiliary Air Force.

Next time you take a bite in any of the Cadbury bars just think about this bit of history.

cadbury

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The Jewish typewriter salesman who recommended Hitler for an Iron cross.

Gutmann.JPG

I have to confess that the the title is somewhat misleading because Hugo Gutmann was not a typewriter salesman as of yet when he recommended Hitler’s award of the Iron Cross First Class.

Hugo Gutmann was one of the 12,000 Jewish military who fought for Germany during WWI.

from 29 January to 31 August, 1918 Lt. Gutmann was Adolf Hitler’s commanding officer.

Hitler on the right

Hitler was awarded the Iron Cross, 1st Class, for his role as a messenger, running important information between units under fire. The decoration was given to Hitler on  August 4th, 1918,  by the regimental commander, Major von Tubeuf The 2 decorations Hitler only wore were his Iron Cross, and his Nazi Party Badge.

On 8 February 1919, Gutmann left  the German Army, but still was registered army rolls as a reserve lieutenant. In 1933, he applied  for and received his military pension – which had been protected,  for all veterans including Jewish veterans ,by President  Paul von Hindenburg. Despite the anti Jewish laws and losing his German citizenship  Gutmann was allowed to keep his pension.

Around the time of the ‘Kristallnacht’ in autumn 1938, he was arrested by the Gestapo, but SS officers who know him  and  his  relationship with Hitler had him released from custody.

But regardless  this relationship, eventually his fate would have been the same as all other Jews in Germany and the occupied territories.

In 1939, Gutmann and his family moved to  Belgium . In 1940  just prior to the invasion of the Low Countries,the Gutmanns immigrated to the United States. They initially settled  in St. Louis where Hugo secured employment  as a typewriter salesman. In the US  he changed his name to Henry George Grant. He died in San Diego, California, on 22 June 1962. He was buried at Home of Peace Cemetery in San Diego.

Hugo

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Harry Truman

sT hELEN

I know what you all will be thinking that this will be a blog about President Truman, possibly about the order he gave to drop the atomic bombs. Well, you’d be wrong. It is indeed a blog about some explosive events but nothing WWII related. In fact it isn’t about President Truman either.

The subject in this blog is Harry R Truman a resident of the state of Washington who lived near Mount St. Helens.

memorial

Truman enlisted in the US Army as a private in August 1917. and served in France during World War I.

On 24 January 1918, the SS Tuscania departed Hoboken, New Jersey, with 384 crew members and 2,013 United States Army personnel aboard, Harry R Truman was one of the 2,013. The destination was Liverpool in England.

Tuscania

On the morning of February 5th, 1918, the SS Tuscania was sighted by the German submarine UB 77.During that day, the U-Boat stalked the SS Tuscania until early evening. Under the cover of darkness at about 6:40 pm, the submarine′s commanding officer, Captain Wilhelm Meyer, ordered two torpedoes fired at the Tuscania.

ub 77

The second torpedo struck the ship and sank it in the Irish Sea. 210 of the crew and troops perished that day. Harry R Truman was not one of them.

He went on to live a long life, but his death was caused by another explosion of sorts.

Truman moved near to Mount St Helens where he owned a lodge on Spirit Lake ,near the foot of the mountain for more than 50 years. He became somewhat of a  celebrity during the two months of volcanic activity preceding the 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens. He figured the danger was exaggerated and told reporters

“I’m going to stay right here because, I’ll tell you why, my home and my f**king life’s here. If the mountain goes, I’m going with it”

Unfortunately the volcano did erupt and Harry R Truman did die on May 18,1980 aged 83. His home was hit by a mud and snow avalanche, and buried the site of his lodge under 150 feet (46 m) of volcanic landslide debris.. His remains were never found.

tRUMAN

Some people may think he was foolish not to leave while he still could. But he knew what he wanted and where he was happiest and that was where he and his wife, who died a few years earlier, had made a life for themselves. They had found their bit of paradise for that I admire him because so few find that place they can truly call home.

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And the guns fell silent.

wwi

November 11, 1918. 10:59 am, one last volley of machine gun fire, one last soldier to die.Henry Nicholas John Gunther took one last charge with his bayonet, The enemy warned him , but he wanted to proof himself.He wanted to show his demotion from Sergeant to Private had been unjustified.

One last hoorah, one last act of bravery. The enemy warned him again but to no avail,  Henry N. Gunther kept going, the machine guns rattled, Henry N Gunther fell down,dead. But a Sergeant he was yet again.

Henry

His misguided act of bravery was more an act of madness ,because 60 seconds later the war was over. But he wasn’t to blame the so called Great War was based on human insanity.

November 11, 1918. 11:00 am the guns fell silent.

What was supposed to end before Christmas 1914 lasted 4 bloody years 40 million dead and for what?

The guns fell silent but soon they would fire again.

END OF WAR

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Opha May Johnson-US Marine

mARINE

Today marks the 100th anniversary of real girl power. Om August 13th 1918,Opha May Johnson became the first Female US Marine.

World War I was drawing to an end when the Marine Corps decided to fill some of the gaps left behind by all the men fighting overseas. In 1918, Johnson was the first of 300 women who reported for duty. They made headlines in newspapers all across the country.

Marines

Newspaper articles, OF 1918 AND ALSO the published history of Women Marines in World War I,  reported Johnson’s first duties were as a clerk at Marine Corps headquarters, managing the records of other female reservists who joined after she did.

joins

Ironically when she joined the marines she was not yet allowed to vote.

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Resources

National Library of Congress

Washington Post

 

Creating the conditions for the Holocaust

stab.JPG

Nowadays it is very easy to blame social media for widely distributing fake news on a large scale by means of memes and other ways. However this is nothing new, about 100 years ago this was happening through way of propaganda postcards and cartoons(after all a meme is nothing else then a digital propaganda or satirical postcard or cartoon) spread via post or newspapers.

Long before Hitler came to power, German politicians like Friedrich Ebert already blamed  communists,socialists and especially the Jews for losing WWI, by creating the ‘stab in the back’ myth.

The stab-in-the-back myth was believed despite even though it was entirely false .German Jews had loyally and bravely served in the German army during WWI. In fact their numbers were out of proportion in ratio to their numbers in the population. A fact that was emphasized by the “Reich Federation of Jewish Front Soldiers”

Soldiers

Several myths  were deliberately propagated alongside older prejudices. Myths such as:

  • The Jews had started the war to bring Europe to financial ruin and to bring it under Jewish control.
  • Jews exploited the misery of the war to enrich themselves and prolonged it to lead the Bolshevik Revolution in furthering the aim of world revolution.

These myths were enhanced by propaganda postcards and cartoons.

stab in the back

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The origin of the term “stab-in-the-back” itself can possibly attributed to General Erich Ludendorff and dated to the autumn of 1919. Ludendorff was having dinere with the head of the British Military Mission in Berlin,  General Sir Neill Malcolm. Malcolm asked Ludendorff why he thought Germany lost the war. Ludendorff replied with his list of excuses, including that the home front failed the army.

Malcolm asked him: “Do you mean, General, that you were stabbed in the back?” Ludendorff’s eyes lit up and he leaped upon the phrase like a dog on a bone. “Stabbed in the back?” he repeated. “Yes, that’s it, exactly, we were stabbed in the back”.

Conservatives, nationalists and ex-military leaders began to speak critically about the peace and Weimar politicians, socialists, communists and especially Jews, It was suggested that they had not been supportive during the war and had played a part in selling out Germany to its enemies.

stab 4

By the time the Nazis came to power the foundations had already been laid.

 

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Sources

Encyclopedia 1914-1918

USHMM

 

The hills are alive with the sound of sinking Ships.

 

Georg_von_Trapp.jpgWho hasn’t heard of the Sound of Music, an immensely popular movie about the von Trapp family.

But behind the idyllic portrayal of the family lies a darker origin. I will not focus on the singing legacy in this blog but more on that ‘darker side of the story.

Georg von Trapp’s first wive was Agatha Whitehead granddaughter of Robert Whitehead, the inventor of  the modern torpedo.

And how bizarre this may sound for Austria is a landlocked country, Georg von Trapp was a captain in the Austro-Hungarian navy during WWI. The Austro-Hungarian Empire or the Dual Monarchy did include some of the Baltic nations.

450px-Austro-Hungarian_Monarchy_(1914).svg.png

After World War I broke out, he was given command of the U-Boat U-5, a small, 100-foot-long submarine displacing 240 tons, on April 17, 1915. U-5’s ventilation system wasn’t in the best of state  and sometimes filled the sub with poisonous fumes.While in command of SM U-5 he sank two enemy warships.

SMU-5_Trapp

On April 27, less than two weeks after assuming command, U-5 sank the French cruiser Leon Gambetta just off the heel of Italy’s boot. The 12,000 ton Gambetta sank in ten minutes and 684 of its crew, out of 821, were lost. Von Trapp had difficulties coming to terms with the realities of modern warfare:

“So that’s what war looks like! There behind me hundreds of seamen have drowned, men who have done me no harm, men who did their duty as I myself have done, against whom I have nothing personally; with whom, on the contrary, I have felt a bond through sharing the same profession.

— Captain Georg von Trapp”

French_cruiser_Leon_Gambetta (1)

von Trapp was later given command of another submarine on October 14, 1915. The  SM U-14 which had previously been the French submarine Curie, before it was sunk, while trying to infiltrate an Austro-Hungarian Naval base,and salvaged by the Austrian Navy.

SM_U-14_(Austria-Hungary)

 

While in command of the SM U-14 he sank 11 allied ,mainly cargo, vessels.

For his endeavours in the Navy he received several honors, among them the Military Order of Maria Theresa, the highest award given in the Austrian Navy. Von Trapp was the most decorated officer in the Austrian Navy and was knigted, earning the title “Ritter” and became Georg Johannes, Ritter von Trapp.

On 3 September 1922, Agatha von Trapp died of scarlet fever. In  1926, Maria Franziska, the 2nd oldest daughter, was recovering from an illness and could not go to school. Therefor Georgvon Trapp recruited  Maria Augusta Kutschera, from the nearby Nonnberg Abbey, as a tutor,and not as a governess as is the case on the musical.

On 26 November 1927, the 47 year old Georg married the 22 year old Maria Augusta Kutschera.

Maria von Trapp

When Germany annexed Austria in 1938, von Trapp was offered a commission in the German Navy,But he couldn’t reconcile with the Nazi ideology. Realizing  that he could not  really decline the offer without the threat of arrest, possibly for his entire family, von Trapp decided to leave Austria.

Via Italy they eventually ended up in the US.

I think the exploits of Georg vonTrapp, prior to  Maria Augusta Kutschera would have made a much more fascinating movie, but that is just my opinion.

800px-Trapp_Family_Singers_1941

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