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Plate 1, Herbert Sandberg, Der Weg: young painter being told to pursue money not art

Object | Accession Number: 1988.12.1

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    Plate 1, Herbert Sandberg, Der Weg: young painter being told to pursue money not art

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    Brief Narrative
    Aquatint created by Herbert Sandberg about his youthful decision to become an artist, not a banker, despite his father's disapproval. It is one in the series, Der Weg [The Way], a limited edition of 70 intaglio prints created from 1958-1965 for Buchenwald Museum for the 20th anniversary of liberation. Sandberg was imprisoned for 11 years by the Nazi regime, 7 under brutal conditions in Buchenwald concentration camp. Der Weg is a comprehensive autobiographical cycle, made to remind people of the day to day life destroyed by the Nazi dictatorship, as well as the horrors and immorality of the camps. The main sections are: prints 1-25, pre-1933 life; 26-60, resistance and persecution, including reconstructions of drawings Sandberg made while incarcerated; and 61-70, survivors postwar and the making of a new Germany. Sandberg, 26, was arrested in Berlin in 1934 for distributing anti-Nazi literature. He was convicted of treason and jailed. In 1938, he was transferred to the recently opened Buchenwald, as prisoner 3491, marked as both a Jewish and a political prisoner. In 1944, ill and in the infirmary, Sandberg created his first artworks as a prisoner. Buchenwald was liberated on June 12, 1945, by US troops. Sandberg returned to Berlin and resumed his career.
    Artwork Title
    Du sollst es einmal besser haben
    Alternate Title
    You shall have a better life
    The Way 70 Aquatints-Etchings
    Series Title
    Der Weg 70 Aquatinta-Radierungen
    creation:  1962
    depiction:  approximately 1925
    creation: Berlin (Germany : East)
    Credit Line
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection
    front, on sheet, below image, left corner, ink : Du sollst es einmal besser haben. [You shall have a better life]
    front, on sheet, lower left and right, pencil : H. Sandberg 62
    Artist: Herbert Sandberg
    Subject: Herbert Sandberg
    Herbert Sandberg was born on April 14, 1908, in Posen, Germany, (later Poznan, Poland) to an Orthodox Jewish couple, Eva and Salomon Sandberg. His father Salomon was a leather merchant. Shortly after his birth, the family move to Hindenberg, also in the Silesian/ Prussian region of Germany (later Zabrze, Poland). When Herbert was a teenager, they moved to Breslau, (later Wroclaw, Poland) where he attended high school. After graduation, he briefly attended trade school, and worked in a bank, but then pursued an art education, which led to a break with his father who did not approve. Between 1925 and 1928, Herbert attended a local Arts and Crafts School in Breslau, and studied with Otto Müller at Breslau's Academy of Fine Arts. He also began working as an illustrator and newspaper cartoonist. In 1927, Herbert began his association with Bertolt Brecht after he was hired by the Breslau Volksbühnenzeitschrift, a theatre magazine, to draw a portrait of Brecht in his Berlin studio. In 1928, Herbert's father immigrated to Palestine, where his wife and daughters joined him in 1930. In 1928, Herbert moved to Berlin where he worked for major newspapers, such as Berliner Tageblatt. He joined the Revolutionary German Artists' Association (ASSO). In 1930, he became a member of the Communist Party, for which he created and distributed leaflets, posters, and other graphic materials. In January 1933, Hitler was appointed chancellor of Germany. After the Reichstag Fire in February, civil rights were suspended. Germany became a police state and those who opposed the government were persecuted. In 1934, Sandberg was arrested for distributing anti-Nazi literature and imprisoned in Berlin-Plotzensee Prison. He was convicted of treason and sent to Brandenburg-Gorden Prison.

    On July 21, 1938, Sandberg was transferred to Buchenwald concentration camp. He was prisoner number 3491 and identified as both a Jewish prisoner and a political prisoner. He was removed from a 1943 deportation transport to Auschwitz because of his training as a stone mason. Wilhelm Hammer, a teacher incarcerated at the camp, had persuaded the German SS authorities to allow him to establish a formal training program to teach prisoners stone masonry. The SS operated several business enterprises at the camp, including a stone quarry. Sandberg never admitted to being an artist, but he was registered as a skilled stone mason and was kept at Buchenwald to assist this program. In 1944, Sandberg fell ill and was hospitalized. While in the infirmary, he created his first artworks since his imprisonment. The cycle, called Eine Freundschaft [This Picture Diary], was smuggled out of the camp.

    Buchenwald was liberated on June 12, 1945, by American forces. Sandberg returned to Berlin, which in 1949 became part of the newly established Deutsche Demokratische Republik (DDR), known as East Germany, Sandberg retrieved his prison artwork which was incorporated into a work published in 1949 in Berlin, East Germany. In 1959, Sandberg was commissioned by the Buchenwald Committee for the Buchenwald Museum to take the original fragile drawings from Buchenwald concentration camp as well as newly created works and create a limited edition aquatint etching folio. The series, Der Weg [The Path], was completed between 1958 and 1965, in an edition of 25-30, after which the plates were destroyed. An inexpensive book of the prints was published in 1966. Sandberg, 73, died on March 18, 1991, in Berlin.

    Physical Details

    Physical Description
    Aquatint etching on wove paper depicting a young man with spectacles, standing before an easel, painting his self-portrait. He holds a painter's palette in his left hand and is looking in a wall mirror at his reflection. Behind him stands an older man with a goatee, wearing a business suit. He has an angry expression and is yelling at the youth, while pointing out the open door where a path leads to a large building labelled BANK. Signed by the artist. This is one in a series of 70 prints, Der Weg.
    overall: Height: 12.500 inches (31.75 cm) | Width: 15.750 inches (40.005 cm)
    pictorial area: Height: 7.750 inches (19.685 cm) | Width: 9.625 inches (24.448 cm)
    overall : wove paper, ink
    front, bottom left corner, ink : 40/50 / 1

    Rights & Restrictions

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

    Keywords & Subjects

    Administrative Notes

    The aquatint was acquired by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 1988.
    Funding Note
    The cataloging of this artifact has been supported by a grant from the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany.
    Record last modified:
    2022-07-28 18:28:32
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