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Autobiographical charcoal drawing by David Friedman of naked women and children entering the showers at Auschwitz

Object | Accession Number: 1988.182.2

Charcoal drawing created by David Friedman (before 1960, Friedmann) in 1964 of a scene he witnessed in Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp in August 1944. It depicts a two long lines of naked women and children entering a doorway marked Bade Anstalt (Bathing Establishment.) Artist's caption: "This is Auschwitz-Birkenau! This camp, like Maidanek, Treblinka, and many others, was destined to destroy Jewish people. Bathing Establishment was posted outside, but it was also used as a gas-chamber. The Nazis enjoyed to fool us. The camp was full of smoke and a horrible odor, but at that time, we had no knowledge, and would never have believed that the smell came from burned human bodies."
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
Bathhouse Auschwitz
Series Title
Because They Were Jews!
Date
1964 March  (creation)
1944 August  (depiction)
Geography
depiction : Birkenau (Concentration camp); Birkenau (Germany)
creation : St. Louis (Mo.)
Language
German
Classification
Art
Category
Drawings
Credit Line
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Miriam Friedman Morris
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Record last modified: 2018-01-11 14:22:31
This page: https://collections.ushmm.org/search/catalog/irn516143