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Autobiographical tempera painting by David Friedmann of two men pumping water in the Łódź Ghetto

Object | Accession Number: 1988.173.1 a-c

Tempera painting, mat, and frame created by David Friedmann (from 1960, Friedman) in 1946 of the water pump in the Łódź Ghetto where he did the family's washing in summer and winter. Friedmann was incarcerated in the Ghetto from October 1941 until his deportation to Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp in late August 1944. It depicts two men in heavy clothing with Stars of David pumping water in a snow covered yard. 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 Łódź, Poland. In late 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
Pumping Water in Łódźer Ghetto
Alternate Title
Two Łódź Ghetto Inmates On A Water Pump
Series Title
Because They Were Jews!
creation:  1946
depiction:  1941 October-1944 March
depiction: Litzmannstadt-Getto (Łódź, Poland); Łódź (Poland)
creation: Prague (Czech Republic)
Credit Line
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Hildegard Friedman
Record last modified: 2022-12-15 09:40:05
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