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Postwar visionary painting commemorating the first deportation of Jews from Drancy by a Turkish Jewish woman who witnessed the event

Object | Accession Number: 2004.662.1

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    Postwar visionary painting commemorating the first deportation of Jews from Drancy by a Turkish Jewish woman who witnessed the event

    Overview

    Brief Narrative
    Mystical oil painting created by Louise Abouaf Starr in 2003 to commemorate March 27, 1942, the day she witnessed the first deportation of Jewish prisoners from Drancy via train from Paris. The colorful painting features train cars loaded with prisoners surrounded by symbolic images of angels, animals, and the Torah. On March 27, Louise, age 23, and her mother went to the station looking for her father and brother. They were warned not to go onto the platform, since German soldiers threatened to shoot unauthorized persons. They bought a ticket and snuck onto quay one and hid under a corner overhang. They saw soldiers force about 100 Jewish prisoners toward the trains; three car were already closed and they could hear the occupants yelling. They did not see Marcel or Maurice. Louise saw a hand reach out of a car and drop a paper. She ran over to get it, but was seen by soldiers who moved toward her. An engineer, Jean-Louis Loiret, operating a train on another track, stopped so the women could jump aboard. In 1949, they learned that her brother Marcel was deported that day. France was invaded by Nazi Germany on May 10, 1940, and surrendered on June 22. Louise, her parents Maurice and Djoya, and four younger siblings lived in Paris which was under German military governance. Anti-Jewish measures were enacted and, in August 1940, an internment camp for foreign Jews was established in Drancy, a northeastern suburb of Paris. The family, originally from Turkey, had lived in France since 1923, but in April 1941, Maurice and Marcel were interned at Drancy. On March 26, 1942, the family received a letter from Maurice telling them prisoners were being moved the next day. Louise and Djoya went to the station to see if their loved ones were there. They did not know that the trains were going to Auschwitz or that Marcel was on that transport. Maurice was deported on June 22. Both men were killed in Auschwitz in July 1942. The rest of the family went into hiding, first at a neighbor’s home, then in their apartment building. When Paris was liberated on August 25, 1944, Louise met Charles Starr, an American soldier. They married on December 16, 1944. After the war, Louise became an artist under the name Lounah Starr.
    Artwork Title
    The First Deportation of the Jews from Paris, France from the train station at Le Bourget-Drancy March 27, 1942
    Date
    commemoration:  1942 March 27
    creation:  2003 June 18
    Geography
    creation: East Hampton (N.Y.)
    Credit Line
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Louise Starr
    Markings
    back, top right corner, black paint : LA DEPORTATION _1st convoy / CHEF du convoi: DANNECKER / Bourget Drancy le 27 Mars 1942 / pour Auschwitz…. puis le Paradis / Fait Le 18 Jiun 2003 A E. HAMPTON N.Y. / EN MEMOiRE DE MON FRERE MARCEL ABOUAF / DEPORTE DE FRANCE DANS LE 7TH CONVOi, / ET AUSSi EN MEMOiR DE MON PERE MAURiCE ABOUAF / AINSi QUE MA TANTE SARINA ABOUAF ISRAEL ET / SON FiLS SALOMON ISRAEL. SANS OUBLiER MON / ONCLE DAViD SARFATi, DES AMiS DE LA FAMiLIE / DES CAMARADES DE CLASSE, DES VOiSiNS, DES/GENS QUi ONT TRAVAiLLE POUR NOUS OU POUR / LES QUELS J’Ai TRAVALLESEES 6,500,000 DEPORTES
    [THE DEPORTATION_ 1st convoy/HEAD of convoy: DANNECKER/Bourget Drancy 27 March 1942/To Auschwitz…then the Paradise/ Made 18 June 2003 in E. HAMPTON N.Y. IN MEMORY OF MY BROTHER MARCEL ABOUAF/DEPORTED FROM FRANCE IN THE 7TH CONVOY,/ AND ALSO IN MEMORY OF MY FATHER MAURICE ABOUAF/AND MY AUNT SARINA ABOUAF ISRAEL/AND HER SON SALOMON ISRAEL. WITHOUT FORGETTING MY/UNCLE DAVID SARFATI, FAMILY FRIENDS/, CLASSMATES, NEIGHBORS, PEOPLE/WHO HAVE WORKED FOR US OR FOR/ THOSE WHOM WE HAVE WORKED FOR 6,500,000 DEPORTED]
    back, bottom right corner, black paint : LOUNAH [?] / LOUNA LOUiSE ABOUAF STARR / FAIT EN L’HONNEUR DE/JEAN-LOUiS LOiRET, / LE CONDUCTEUR DU TRAiN Qui / A SAUVE LA ViE DE MA MERE AU / RiSQUÉ DE SA ViE ET QUI A AUSSi / SAUVE ME VIE. / EN L’HONNEUR: DE Mr ET Mm AUDOU, / DE Mr ET Mm RAiM BAUET / DE Mr ET Mm Karayach qui ont sauvee / la vie de ma mere de ma soeur de / mes 2 autres freres et la mienne, / de Mm Bolis et de 2 personnes / du 65 Rue Sedaine Paris et de la / marchande de chaussures / du Boulevard / [Sebastoque?] PARIS / LOUNAH
    [Lounah [?] / Louna Louise Abouaf Starr / Made in honor of Jean-Louis Loiret the conductor of the train that saved the life of my mother at the risk of his life and who also saved my life. / In honor: of Mr and Mm Adou / of Mr and Mm Raim Bauet / of Mr and Mm Karayach who saved / the life of my mother and sister and / my two other brothers and mine, / of Mm Bolis and of 2 people from 65 Rue Sedaine, Paris and of the / merchant of shoes from Boulevard Sebastoque, Paris / Lounah]
    Signature
    front, bottom left corner, blakc paint : LOUNAH
    Contributor
    Subject: Louise Starr
    Artist: Louise Starr
    Biography
    Louise Abouaf was born on August 7, 1919, in Bergama, Turkey, to Moise (Maurice) and Djoya Baralia Abouaf. Maurice was born on May 25, 1890, in Brousse (Bursa.) Djoya was born in Bergama. The family spoke Ladino, having arrived in Turkey after the 1492 expulsion of Jews from Spain. In 1923, the family left Turkey for Paris, France. Louise had four siblings: Marko (Marcel), born on September 8, 1921; Rachel, born 1923; Michel, born 1931; and Joseph. In 1931, Maurice became a French citizen. He owned a clothing business that made machine knitted sweaters.

    On May 10, 1940, Germany invaded France and an armistice was signed on June 22. The northern and western regions, including Paris, were placed under the control of a German military administration. Anti-Jewish measures were enacted and, in August, an internment camp for foreign Jews was established in Drancy, a northeastern suburb of Paris. On August 2, 1941, Marcel was interned in Drancy and on August 21, Maurice was imprisoned there as well. Louise visited her father and brother at the camp on Saturdays, bringing them cake made with ingredients provided by a neighbor. On March 26, 1942, the family received a letter from Maurice, which said that the inmates at Drancy were going to be moved the following day. On March 27, Louise and her mother decided to go to the camp to try to save Maurice and Marcel. When they arrived, a cafe owner, not knowing they were Jewish, told them that many of the inmates had already been moved to the train station. Louise and Djoya went to the station, and saw a group of 100 malnourished Jews being pushed to the train cars by armed German soldiers. They looked for Maurice and Marcel but did not see them. Louise saw a hand drop a piece of paper from a train car. She ran forward to grab it and was seen by the soldiers, who started heading toward her. A train engineer, Jean-Louis Loiret, connected to the resistance, driving a train in quay two and stopped to allow Louise and Djoya to jump onboard. They got off at the next stop and took a bus home.

    In June 1942, Louise, and all the Jewish residents, had to wear a Star of David patch at all time. In the summer of 1942, there were steady rounds of mass arrests of Jew for deportation to the concentration camps by German and French authorities. On July 16 and 17, 13,000 Jews were detained in the Velodrome d'Hiver sports arena in Paris, and by August, over 40,000 Jews had been transported east. One day, Louise had left to do errands and was told by a shopkeeper that the Germans had searched her building, found no Jews, and sealed the door. Louise had inadvertently broken the seal when she left the building. She found wax in her father’s study and was able to reseal the door. Djoya realized they were probably on a deportation list and the family went into hiding with a nearby neighbor. After about two weeks, they returned to their apartment. Louise’s aunt and three others came to live with them. Djoya bartered goods for food, mainly lentils. The family remained sequestered until Paris was liberated on August 25, 1944. That same day, Louise met an American soldier, Charles Starr. Charles, born on May 5, 1921, in New York, served in intelligence and had landed at Normandy. The couple married on December 16, 1944, the first wedding between an American soldier and a French woman in their district, the 11th arrondisement.

    In 1945, Louise became pregnant and they decided to immigrate to New York so the baby would be born in the US. On July 25, she boarded the SS Magallanes in Bilbao, Spain, and arrived in Philadelphia on August 27. Louise and Charles lived with Charles’ parents in the Bronx, New York. Their son was born on November 25, 1945. Charles was discharged from the Army in December. In 1946, they returned to France, where they had two more children. Louise and Charles worked as French teachers and started a company that produced language tapes for schools. In 1949, they learned that her brother Marcel had been on the transport witnessed by Louise and Djoya on March 27, 1942. It had gone to Auschwitz, where he was assigned prisoner number 28540. Maurice was deported from Drancy to Auschwitz on June 22, 1942, arriving on June 24. He was assigned prisoner number 40683. Both were killed in the camp: Marcel on July 1, 1942, and Maurice on July 25, 1942.
    Louise began painting when she was twelve years old, then stopped until 1951, when Charles encouraged her to resume painting, under the name Lounah Starr. She describes herself as a mystical painter and her paintings feature depictions of angels and the Torah to reflect her vision of her work as a gift from God. Charles, age 77, died on December 15, 1998, in Nice, France.

    Physical Details

    Language
    French
    Classification
    Art
    Category
    Paintings
    Object Type
    Outsider art (lcsh)
    Physical Description
    Square oil painting on canvas with nonrealistic imagery in primarily pastel colors. In the foreground are 2 sets of train tracks with faces painted in muted colors within the rails. Between the tracks are several human figures and fish, painted in white and light brown. A rainbow surrounded by angels crosses the tracks. There are brightly colored figures in the lower corners. In the center is a large group of prisoners in gray and white striped uniforms marching in rows toward a large train in the middleground. Soldiers in green uniforms are loading the prisoners onto the train, which is already crowded with people. Near the the front of the train are 2 figures in dark clothing; 1 is bent over to pick up a piece of paper dropped from the train. Two soldiers are advancing toward them, with pointed guns. There are several large angelic figures interspersed throughout the scene. In the upper background is a brightly colored scene with a Torah, several nonrealistic figures and animals below five archways. The painting is in a plain wooden frame. There is French text inscribed on the back.
    Dimensions
    overall: Height: 61.250 inches (155.575 cm) | Width: 61.500 inches (156.21 cm)
    Materials
    overall : canvas, oil paint, wood

    Rights & Restrictions

    Conditions on Access
    No restrictions on access
    Conditions on Use
    No restrictions on use

    Keywords & Subjects

    Administrative Notes

    Provenance
    The painting was donated to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 2004 by Louise Starr.
    Funding Note
    The cataloging of this artifact has been supported by a grant from the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany.
    Record last modified:
    2023-10-03 07:53:08
    This page:
    https:​/​/collections.ushmm.org​/search​/catalog​/irn522544

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