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Autobiographical oil painting by David Friedmann of freed prisoners homeward bound

Object | Accession Number: 1988.182.4 a-b

Framed oil painting created by David Friedmann (from 1960, Friedman) in 1946, based upon scenes he witnessed after his liberation on January 25, 1945, following a death march to Blechhammer slave labor camp. The painting depicts a long line of men in prison garb walking in the snow; a dead body on the roadside. Artist's caption: "It was a long way home and it wasn't unusual to see comrades as well as German soldiers dead on the road."
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
From Concentration Camps to Liberty
Series Title
Because They Were Jews!
creation:  1946
depiction:  1945 January
creation: Prague (Czech Republic)
depiction: Blechhammer, Upper Silesia, Germany (historic); Blachownia Slaska (Poland)
Credit Line
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Miriam Friedman Morris
Record last modified: 2020-11-24 09:45:05
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