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Brown and orange watercolor of the corpse of a German soldier near Monte Cassino by a Jewish soldier, 2nd Polish Corps

Object | Accession Number: 2012.471.65

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    Brown and orange watercolor of the corpse of a German soldier near Monte Cassino by a Jewish soldier, 2nd Polish Corps
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    Overview

    Brief Narrative
    Brown and orange shaded watercolor of a dead German soldier lying in a field painted by 24 year old Edward Herzbaum. It depicts a sight he witnessed on June 1, 1944, after a battle near Portella, Italy. Edward was a soldier in the 5th Kresowa, 2nd Polish Corps, formerly the Polish Army of the East which had marched south in 1941-1942 from the Soviet Union to join the British Army in Iraq. In February 1944, they deployed to join the 8th British Army in the Italian Campaign. The Corps fought its way north and was honored for their bravery in the May 1944 Battle of Monte Cassino. Edward, age 19, had left Łódź, Poland, shortly after Nazi Germany occupied the country in September 1939 to stay with family in Soviet controlled Lvov. In June 1940, he was arrested by Soviet security police and exiled to a forced labor camp. Germany invaded the Soviet Union in June 1941. Edward was released as part of an amnesty granted to Polish prisoners. He headed south to join Anders Army, a Polish military unit formed by General Anders per agreement with Stalin. In August 1942, the unit left Soviet territory and became the 2nd Polish Corps, British Army. They were in Italy on May 7, 1945, when the war ended. Edward learned that his mother had died in the Łódź Ghetto in 1943. He studied architecture in Rome until the British decided to allow Polish Corps veterans to immigrate to England in October 1946. He then served in the Polish Resettlement Corps for two years and completed his degree.
    Artwork Title
    Whatever Remains
    Date
    creation:  1944 June 01
    depiction:  1944 June 01
    Geography
    depiction: Portella della Ginestra (Italy)
    creation: Portella della Ginestra (Italy)
    Credit Line
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Krystyna Mew
    Signature
    front, bottom left, brown watercolor : EH
    Contributor
    Artist: Edward H. Hartry
    Subject: Edward H. Hartry
    Biography
    Edward Henryk Herzbaum (later Hartry) was born on October 6, 1920, in Vienna, Austria. He was the only son of a Jewish couple, Dr. Alexander and Fanny Hermelin Herzbaum. Alexander was a chemical engineer, born in Tarnow, Poland, in February 1886 to Mendel (1855-1930) and Chana Ettinger Herzbaum, who married in 1882. They also had a daughter Gisela (1884-1912.) Chana died in 1886. In 1888, Mendel married Beila Lea Ettinger (b. August 22, 1864). Mendel and Beila had two children: Jakob (1888-1966) and Herman. Edward's mother Fanny was born in Boryslaw, Poland, near Lvov on May 30, 1890, to Samuel (d. 1922) and Chaje Sara Backenroth Hermelin. Fanny had four siblings, Rifke (b. 1883), Cirl (b. 1888), Zacharje (1884-1925), and Abraham (1885-1886.) In 1928, Edward's family moved to Poland and settled in Zawiercie. Edward had asthma and wore glasses, as he was very shortsighted. In 1934, they moved to Łódź. Alexander, 51, died in July 1937 of cancer. Edward graduated from high school in May 1938, and deferred his military service to enroll at the Warsaw Polytechnic, Faculty of Architecture. He had completed two semesters when Germany invaded Poland on September 1, 1939. Edward joined the Polish Auxiliary Forces as a volunteer and was arrested by the Germans with other paramilitary youth a few days later. Edward escaped and returned to Łódź. The Soviet Union invaded and occupied eastern Poland. German occupying authorities in Łódź enacted oppressive anti-Jewish measures. At the urging of his mother, Edward, then 19, left Łódź on December 6, 1939, and went east to Lvov, which was under Soviet control.

    In Lvov, Edward lived with his maternal aunt and had an assortment of jobs, including office worker at a construction site, skiing instructor, and lifeguard at a swimming pool in a Soviet sports center. In June 1940, Edward was arrested by the NKVD (Soviet Security Police), tortured, and exiled to a gulag near Rybinsk on the Volga River. The prisoners logged and hauled trees in freezing temperatures. They worked on the construction of a reservoir and hydro-electric plant. The camp was primitive, and the inmates suffered from starvation, exhaustion, and brutal treatment from the guards. Edward spent months in the infirmary, but his poor health did not exempt him from abuse. Around this time, Edward began to keep a journal.

    In June 1941, Germany invaded the USSR. The Soviets issued an amnesty of the Polish forced laborers and other Soviet prisoners. Some were needed to work in factories and agriculture to replace the Russians mobilized into the Red Army. Other prisoners were released to join the fight against the Germans. An agreement was signed between the Polish Government in Exile and the Soviet government to form a Polish Army in the East, commanded by General Wladyslaw Anders. After his release, Edward traveled south to Tatischewo (now Turkmenbasy) in Turkemenistan in September, and joined Anders Army as a soldier in the 5th Kresowa Infantry Division. It was a difficult existence, as the Soviets were unwilling to supply enough food or equipment to sustain the Polish soldiers. On August 17, 1942, they left Soviet territory, crossing the Caspian Sea to Pahlevi, Iran (now Bandar-e-Anzali.) At this point, they were placed under the control of the British government and became the Polish Second Corps, a unit of the British Army affiliated with the Polish Armed Forces in the West. The troops travelled through Bakhtaran (now Kirmanshah) then to Khanaqin, Iraq, as they received training from British forces.

    Edward’s health improved as he got out of the Soviet Union, and food and supplies were plentiful. However, the increasingly horrifying news from Poland affected him deeply, and he experienced bouts of depression. Painting and drawing materials were available and Edward began to document events with sketches and watercolors. In March 1943, the Corps was in Habbaniya, Iraq, and in September, went to Nuseirat, Palestine. In February 1944, the unit moved to Quassasin, Egypt. The Polish soldiers were fully trained now and, on February 18, Edward and his division boarded the M.S. Dilwara in Port Said for Taranto, Italy, where they joined the Italian Campaign under the command of the Eighth British Army. They fought their way north through Italy, experiencing high casualties, especially in the May 1944 final Battle of Monte Cassino, the fourth assault on those German defenses since January 1944. Edward visited the cemetery at Aquafondate and saw the names of many men he knew well. Edward, although Jewish by birth, was an atheist and, for him, the comradeship and closeness between soldier’s transcended class and religion. They relied on each other completely, as they experienced the trauma of war together. In June, the Corps fought in the Adriatic Campaign, including the Battle of Ancona, capturing the city on July 18, 1944.

    The war ended in early May 1945 with Germany's surrender. Many Polish soldiers did not want to return to their now communist-run country and had to wait in Italy while the British Army determined what to do. Edward learned that his mother had died in Łódź Ghetto. He was given leave to resume education and studied architecture at the University of Rome from March - September 1946. In October, Edward and other Polish veterans sailed from Naples on the SS Marine Raven, arriving in Glasgow in early November. Edward was assigned to an army camp near High Wycombe. In September 1947, he was given leave to study architecture at Polish University College in London. He was discharged as a private from the Polish forces and listed as a member of the Polish Resettlement Corps from November 1947-June 1949.

    In 1949, Edward changed his name from Herzbaum to Hartry, following the example of a cousin, Ted, who had escaped to the US where he joined the US Army. Edward completed his architecture studies in June 1950. He was an architect's assistant at the London County Council. In 1952, he became a British national. In his naturalization form, he states that his mother died in 1940-1941, exact date not known. He never knew the details of her passing. Records discovered later said Fanny, 53, died of peritonitis in Łódź Ghetto on December 12, 1943. Edward established an architectural firm with two partners. In 1956, Edward, called Edek, married Teresa Jaskolska, a Polish Catholic woman. She had a daughter from a previous marriage and the couple had a daughter in 1957. Edward, 47, died on February 22, 1967, of cancer. After Teresa’s death in 2002, his daughter Krystyna Mew discovered his wartime artwork and journals, which were translated and published in 2010 as Lost between Worlds: A World War II Journey of Survival.

    Physical Details

    Classification
    Art
    Category
    Paintings
    Object Type
    War in art (lcsh)
    Physical Description
    Watercolor in orange and brown with pencil underdrawing on offwhite wove paper depicting a skeletal head and torso laying on its right side, horizontally on the ground. The head faces forward, and the soldier wears a steel helmet, pushed above the left ear, with a Reichsadler, a German national emblem, on the top and a chinstrap with a buckle. The face is contorted in a grimace with receding lips revealing white teeth; the eyes are black triangles. There is a whitish cloth around the neck and possibly part of the torso. Blades of strawlike plant material are in the foreground in front of the body and face. The artist's intials are in the lower right.
    Dimensions
    overall: Height: 6.750 inches (17.145 cm) | Width: 9.375 inches (23.813 cm)
    Materials
    overall : wove paper, watercolor, graphite, ink

    Rights & Restrictions

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

    Keywords & Subjects

    Geographic Name
    Cassino (Italy)

    Administrative Notes

    Provenance
    The watercolor painting was donated to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 2012 by Krystyna Mew, the daughter of Edward (Herzbaum) Hartry.
    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:
    2023-08-25 12:47:48
    This page:
    https:​/​/collections.ushmm.org​/search​/catalog​/irn61309

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