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Autobiographical charcoal drawing by David Friedman of a mother helping her sick son in a concentration camp

Object | Accession Number: 1987.114.1

Charcoal drawing created by David Friedman (before 1960, Friedmann) in 1963 based upon a scene he witnessed as a prisoner in Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp around August-October 1944. It depicts a cloaked woman with a sorrowful face supporting a young man with an emaciated face. Behind them are a woman rubbing her eyes and other figures near a barbed wire fence. Artist's caption: "Mother helping her sick son inside a camp."
David Friedmann was a successful painter and graphic artist who lived in Berlin from 1911-1938. He was renowned for his portraits drawn from life and became a leading press artist of the 1920’s. In 1933, his prewar career abruptly ended with the establishment of the Nazi dictatorship. In December 1938, he escaped to Prague with his wife, Mathilde, and infant daughter, Mirjam Helene. In October 1941, they were deported to the Jewish Ghetto in Lodz, Poland. In August 1944, the family was separated and sent to Auschwitz death camp, where his wife and child were murdered. He was sent to the subcamp Gleiwitz I, because musicians were sought for a camp orchestra, but Friedmann’s life was saved because of his painting and quick-sketching portrait abilities. The camp was evacuated due to approaching Soviet forces. The inmates were forced on a death march to Blechhammer, where Friedmann was liberated by the Red Army in January 1945. He journeyed to Poland and stayed in Krakow until the war ended in early May 1945. He then returned to Prague and painted the scenes that haunted his memory to show the world and give voice to those who could not be heard. In January 1946, he had his first exhibition of his Holocaust artwork. Friedmann and his second wife, Hildegard, a fellow concentration camp survivor, fled the Stalinist Communists for Israel in 1949. They had a daughter also named Miriam, and the family moved to the United States in 1954.

Artwork Title
Mother with sick son in a camp
Alternate Title
In the concentration camp
Series Title
Because They Were Jews!
Date
1963  (creation)
approximately 1944 August  (depiction)
Geography
depiction : Birkenau (Concentration camp); Birkenau (Germany)
creation : St. Louis (Mo.)
Classification
Art
Category
Drawings
Credit Line
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Miriam Friedman Morris
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Record last modified: 2018-10-24 14:07:43
This page: https://collections.ushmm.org/search/catalog/irn512833