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Autobiographical charcoal drawing by David Friedmann of Jewish prisoners on their way to bury a shot comrade

Object | Accession Number: 1988.173.2

Charcoal and tempera drawing created by David Friedmann (from 1960, Friedman) in 1945 based upon scenes he witnessed as an inmate in Auschwitz-Birkenau and other concentration camps from August 1944 until January 1945. Artist's caption: "Jewish prisoners on their way to bury a shot down comrade. A smiling and smoking Nazi is watching as two other prisoners are digging a grave. Usually, the prisoners dug their own graves before they were shot. This was an added enjoyment for the Nazis."
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 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
Burying a Shot Comrade
Series Title
Because They Were Jews!
depiction:  1944 August-1945 January
creation:  1945
depiction: Gleiwitz I (Concentration camp); Gliwice (Poland)
creation: Prague (Czech Republic)
Credit Line
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Hildegard Friedman
Record last modified: 2020-01-23 10:06:58
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