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Imagined scene of inmates playing violins as Jews are sorted by German guards at a concentration camp

Object | Accession Number: 2006.125.22

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    Imagined scene of inmates playing violins as Jews are sorted by German guards at a concentration camp


    Brief Narrative
    Detailed colored drawing by Arie Singer depicting an imagined scene a group of men, women, and children with backpacks and wearing yellow Stars of David walking across a yard and being sorted into lines by green uniformed Nazi soldiers. Three people in striped uniforms hold violins in the upper left and 3 people enter a wooden building on the right. After the Soviet occupation of Vilna, Poland (Vilnius, Lithuania), in late 1939, nine year old Arie and his family fled to Glembokie (Hlybokaye, Belarus). When Germany invaded Russia in June 1941, the area was assaulted by German mobile killing units, who with the help of the local populace, murdered thousands of Jews. Arie and his mother were forced into the Jewish ghetto. His father, Zvi, age 38, was killed in the massacres at Ponary in 1941. As the pogroms continued into the spring of 1943, Arie and his mother, Chaya, age 35, escaped the ghetto, which was being destroyed by the Germans. They went into hiding in the Nievier Forest near Vilna, where they engaged in partisan activities. The area was liberated by the Red Army in July 1944. After some years in a displaced persons camps, Arie and Chaya emigrated to Israel in the late 1940s. Colonel Singer began creating this series of paintings about his Holocaust experiences in the mid 1980s as rehabilitation following a stroke in 1975.
    Artwork Title
    Auschwitz Orchestra and Crematorium
    Series Title
    Imagining Auschwitz
    creation:  2000 October 10
    depiction:  1942-1945
    creation: Tel Aviv (Israel)
    Credit Line
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Arie Singer
    front, bottom, center, black ink : Hebrew text [Crematorium / Dr. Mengele / Auschwitz]
    front, bottom, right, black ink : 10.10.2000
    front, bottom, near pant leg of German soldier, black ink : ks
    Subject: Arie Singer
    Artist: Arie Singer
    Aryeh (Arie) Singer was born in Vilna, Poland (now Vilnius, Lithuania), on September 26, 1930, to Zvi and Chaya Sverdlov Singer. Zvi, born in 1903, earned his living in the lumber business. Chaya was born in 1908. There were multiple Zionist organizations in Vilna and the family belonged to Elzel. Aryeh attended Beit Sefer Ivrit school. Vilna was claimed by Poland following World War I (1914-1918.) After Germany invaded Poland on September 1, 1939, Vilna, in northeastern Poland, was occupied by Soviet forces per the German-Soviet pact which divided Poland between the two powers. Aryeh, 13, and his extended family fled to Glembokie (Glebokie), (later (Hlybokaye, Belarus), thinking it would be safer. But it also became Soviet territory and Jewish organizations and practices were abolished. On June 22, 1941, Germany attacked Soviet forces in the east and occupied the region. The German invasion was accompanied by German led killing squads, which, assisted by local Lithuanians auxiliaries, murdered thousands of Jews and Polish nationals. Aryeh and his mother Chaya were confined to the Jewish ghetto in Gle`mbokie. His father Zvi was one of the more than 5000 Jewish men shot during the massacres in the Ponary Forest in summer 1941.

    In the ghetto, Aryeh and his mother lived in a small apartment and had no food most of the time. There were frequent pogroms to kill more Jews. In spring 1943, Aryeh and his mother escaped the ghetto, with the help of a partisan named Fifi. They went into hiding in the Nievier Forest near Vilna and engaged in partisan activities. Aryeh’s paternal cousin, Edith Turner, and her family also escaped and lived with the partisans. During the liquidation of the Glembokie ghetto in July-August 1943, the residents rose up against the Nazi occupation forces. The ghetto was burned and the residents were slaughtered. The region where Aryeh and his mother were living in hiding with the partisans was liberated in July 1944 by Soviet forces. Aryeh and his mother relocated to displaced persons camps where they lived for several years. They emigrated to Israel in the late 1940’s. Chaya remarried and had a daughter, Aryeh’s half sister, Miri Gur, who was born in 1947. Aryeh joined the Israeli Defense Forces, fought in the Arab-Israeli Wars, and attained the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. He married Dr. Rina Altberker in 1958 in Tel Aviv, Israel. During the Holocaust, Rina and her family were confined to the Warsaw ghetto for two years. Then Rina and her mother were smuggled out and provided with false identities as non-Jewish Polish women. Aryeh had a stroke in 1978. He had shown artistic talent when young and he taught himself to draw and paint with his left hand as part of his rehabilitation. His mother Chaya, 99, passed away in 2007.

    Physical Details

    Object Type
    Naive art (aat)
    Physical Description
    Multi-colored work on white paper with an image of multiple groups of people in a yard enclosed by a tall black barbed wire fence with a light blue sky in the background. In the foreground left and right are 2 groups of children wearing yellow Star of David badges. In the far right corner foreground a soldier in a dark green uniform with Nazi insignia is directing people into lines; 2 other soldiers near the center do the same with a large group of men and women. Near the upper left 3 people with Judenstern and blue and white striped uniforms play violins. On the far right is a wooden structure with a guard and an open doorway through which 3 people are entering.
    overall: Height: 13.375 inches (33.973 cm) | Width: 19.250 inches (48.895 cm)
    overall : paper, colored pencil, ink
    back, pencil : 160 / 139 154 (circled)

    Rights & Restrictions

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

    Keywords & Subjects

    Administrative Notes

    The painting was donated to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 2006 by Arie Singer.
    Record last modified:
    2022-07-28 18:30:00
    This page:

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