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Pencil sketch

Object | Accession Number: 2012.483.40

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    Pencil sketch

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    Credit Line
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of the Estate of Leo Yeni
    Artist: Leo Yeni
    Leo Yeni was born on January 7, 1920 in Milan, Italy, to Jewish parents, Isak and Pia Della Torre Yeni. Isak was born November 18, 1869, to Juda Samuele and Miriam Guadalia Yeni in Saloniki, Greece. Pia was born on April 17, 1889, to Egisto and Palmira Bondi Della Torre in Livorno, Italy. Leo was raised in Milan. In 1938, Mussolini ceded to German pressure and instituted anti-Jewish racial laws in Italy. That October, Leo had to leave high school at the Institute Israelites. His father lost his job as an office worker and his mother supported the family by cooking meals for friends. In 1942, they had to leave their home and move, with only a few belongings, to an apartment. In 1943, following the Axis surrender in Africa in May and the Allied landings in Sicily in July, the Fascist Grand Council issued a vote of no confidence in Mussolini's leadership on July 25, 1943, and Mussolini was arrested. On September 8, the new government under Badoglio unconditionally surrendered to the Allied Forces. Soon after this, Nazi Germany occupied central and northern Italy, where Milan was located. The German SS took over the police functions and began preparations to deport the Jewish residents in Italy to Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland. In October and November, the Germans conducted round-ups of Jews in Milan and other major cities.

    In fall 1943, Leo and his family fled north to the mountains near Varese, close to the Swiss border. His family decided that Leo should escape into Switzerland. He was apprehended and interrogated by the Swiss Police at the border and denied entry. With the aid of smugglers, he tried again. He was arrested and detained in a military cell in Lugano as an illegal alien. After reviewing his papers, a Swiss Captain told Leo that he was accepted as a refugee and he was interned in a detention camp. Leo was held in Unterwalden (Bellinzona), Plenterplatz in Zurich, and Lajoux in the Jura Bernoise. Through HIAS (Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society) and the Red Cross, Leo was able to contact a maternal relative, Rene Della Torre in the United States. Leo’s parents had been arrested by Italian Fascist police on December 6, 1943. They were jailed in Varese and then taken to Milan where they were deported by the Germans to Auschwitz concentration camp on January 30, 1944, and killed on February 6.

    The war ended in May 1945. Leo resumed his education at L'Ecole d'Art in Switzerland. In July 1946, Leo emigrated from Le Chaux-de-Fonds, Neuchatel, Switzerland, to America aboard the Marine Flasher. He settled in New York and his relatives helped him find a job as a designer. Leo had a successful career as a textile designer. He was active in local artists’ organizations and his artwork was frequently exhibited. He later taught painting. He married Rose Baumoel (1917-1992) on January 20, 1947. Rose was a school teacher. The couple had two children. Leo became a naturalized citizen in 1949. Leo, 91, passed away on February 7, 2011.

    Physical Details

    Object Type
    Pencil drawing (lcsh)
    Physical Description
    Small pencil sketch of a male in profile, possibly a pierrot/pantomime character. Similar to 2012.483.41.
    overall: Height: 5.157 inches (13.099 cm) | Width: 4.055 inches (10.3 cm)
    : paper
    : pencil

    Rights & Restrictions

    Conditions on Access
    No restrictions on access
    Conditions on Use
    Restrictions on use

    Administrative Notes

    The drawing was donated to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 2012 by Lillian Spiegel on behalf of the Estate of of Leo Yeni.
    Record last modified:
    2022-08-08 10:52:12
    This page:

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