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Photostat of a portrait of a Soviet Jewish POW after his escape

Object | Accession Number: 2004.37.2

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    Photostat of a portrait of a Soviet Jewish POW after his escape


    Brief Narrative
    Copy of a portrait drawing of Lieutenant Joseph Vinnitsky, 29, a Jewish soldier in the Soviet Army, created after he escaped a German prisoner of war camp in the Soviet Union in 1942. He wrote a note on the back to his parents telling them his route after departing the camp. After Germany invaded the Soviet Union in June 1941, Joseph was interned by the Germans. He escaped in 1942, and continued to serve in the Soviet Army in the Soviet Union and Bulgaria. Nearly his entire family was killed in the massacres at Babi Yar.
    Artwork Title
    Portrait of Joseph Vinnitsky
    creation:  approximately 1943 June 18
    use:  1943 July 30
    creation: Soviet Union
    Credit Line
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Joseph Vinnitsky
    Subject: Joseph Vinnitsky
    Joseph Vinnitsky was born on April 20, 1913, to Jewish parents in Lipovets, USSR (Ukraine). He later lived in Kiev. During World War II (1939-1945), he served in the Soviet Army. In June 1941, Germany violated the German-Soviet Pact and invaded the Soviet Union. Joseph was imprisoned in a German prisoner of war (POW) camp in the Soviet Union. In 1942, he escaped and traveled to Chernigov, Poltava, Sumy, and Kursk oblasts. He rejoined the army and was stationed in January 1944 in a small village, where he encountered twenty Jewish families, about sixty people, living in hiding. The Germans entered the village looking for Jews and anyone harboring Jews. As they went door to door, a non-Jewish bookkeeper, P.S. Zirchenko, convinced them that there were no Jews in the village. The Germans soon departed. Shortly after, Joseph wrote to Ilya Ehrenburg, a Soviet journalist and novelist, who said he would include the experience in his Black Book of Russian Jewry. Joseph was stationed in 1945 in Sofia, Bulgaria. On May 7, Germany surrendered to the Western Allies, and on May 9 to the Soviets. During his service, Joseph attained the rank of Lieutenant.

    Joseph married Rozalia Smoilowsky, born on October 17, 1918, in Ukraine, and the couple had two children. Many of Joseph and Rozalia’s family members were killed during the Holocaust. In 1979, Joseph and his family settled in New Haven, Connecticut, with assistance from the Jewish Federation of Greater New Haven. He became a naturalized citizen on April 12, 1985.

    Physical Details

    Information Forms
    Physical Description
    Reproduction of a realistic, pencil portrait drawing on rectangular, offwhite paper of a man from the midchest up, facing forward and gazing straight ahead with a weary expression. He has slight bags under his eyes, fine facial lines, pressed lips, and a beard. He wears an ushanka with the ears unfolded and a telogreika with a ribbed design, low collar, and two front buttons. There are diagonal strokes around his head that lighten near the edges. On the upper right is yellowed tape with a handwritten word and a number, and there are 10 diagonal lines of handwritten Russian text and a signature on the back. The edges are slightly uneven.
    overall: Height: 5.625 inches (14.288 cm) | Width: 3.875 inches (9.843 cm)
    overall : paper, ink, masking tape, graphite
    front, top right edge, on tape, handwritten, blue ink : Kopy
    front, upper right, underlined, handwritten, blue ink : 10
    front, lower right, pencil : 1806.43
    reverse, upper left, cursive, blue ink : Russian text [[illegible] 1942 / The day of departure from the camp and surrounding the enemy's camp. Our route: Chernigov, Poltava, Sumy and Kursk oblasts]
    reverse, lower right, cursive, blue ink : Russian text [For good memory - my dear parents from their son Iosif / July 30, 1943]
    reverse, near center right edge, cursive, blue ink : Vinnitsky

    Rights & Restrictions

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

    Keywords & Subjects

    Administrative Notes

    The portrait drawing reproduction was donated to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 2004 by Joseph Vinnitsky.
    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:
    2022-08-16 11:02:13
    This page:

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