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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The Eternal Jew-Art Exhibition

München, Ausstellung "Der ewige Jude"

The title mentions “Art Exhibition” but this is really for lack of a better description. In reality it was Propaganda disguised as an art exhibition. The exhibition opened today 79 years ago.

The Eternal Jew (Der ewige Jude) was the title of an exhibition of degenerate art (entartete Kunst) displayed at the Library of the German Museum in Munich from 8 November 1937 to 31 January 1938. The exhibition attracted 412,300 visitors, over 5,000 per day.

plakat_der_ewige_jude_1937

After the exhibition ended in Munich, it was displayed in Vienna from 2 August until 23 October 1938 and subsequently in Berlin from 12 November 1938 until 31 January 1939.

München, Ausstellung "Der ewige Jude"

Although this was one of the most famous Nazi-sponsored exhibition of degenerate art, it was preceded by a number of other exhibitions in cities such as Mannheim, Karlsruhe, Dresden, Munich, Berlin and Vienna.The works of art displayed at these exhibitions generally consisted of works executed by avant-garde artists, especially expressionist German artists such as Max Beckmann, Ernst Kirchner and Emil Nolde, who had become recognized and esteemed in the 1920s.

 

The objective of the exhibition was not to hold these works up as exemplary and admirable but to present them as worthy of condemnation and derision.The large numbers of attendees may indicate that the art shown was actually more popular than the Nazis supposed, although entrance was free, another attraction to the public.Attendance of over two million visitors was recorded.

deutsches_museum_-_plakat_der_ewige_jude_1937

The exhibition  was followed up with the publication of a book of the same title, consisting of 265 photographs, each with a derogatory caption asserting the degeneracy of the Jewish race.

 

On the 5th of September 1941 a similar exhibition called “Le Juif et la France” (The Jew and France) opened in Paris.

Paris, Propaganda gegen Juden

In November 1940 a film with the same title was released, it had been commissioned by Joseph Goebbels and was directed by Fritz Hippler

ewigerjudefilm

The exhibitions and the film are prime examples how a well developed propaganda machine can effectively brainwash the masses.Unfortunately this is a lesson which we still haven’t learned.

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