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Autobiographical oil painting by David Friedmann of a man with a Star of David badge eating in a Łódź Ghetto food hall

Object | Accession Number: 1988.182.3

Framed oil painting created by David Friedmann (from 1960, Friedman) in 1947, depicting a scene in the Łódź Ghetto, where he was incarcerated from October 1941 until his deportation to Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp in late August 1944. It depicts a seated man with a Star of David badge eating at a table. Artists's caption: "Eating in a public kitchen or eating at home, the consequences were the same. Many Jews died every day from hunger and disease. For example, in four days between Feb. 22-26, 307 persons died: 74 persons died from TB. 105 persons died from weakness of the heart. 128 persons died from hunger."
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
Public Kitchen in the Łódź Ghetto
Series Title
Because They Were Jews!
creation:  1947
depiction:  1941 October-1944 August
depiction: Litzmannstadt-Getto (Łódź, Poland); Łódź (Poland)
creation: Prague (Czech Republic)
Credit Line
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Miriam Friedman Morris
Record last modified: 2022-04-19 13:44:10
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