University of Minnesota
Center for Holocaust & Genocide Studies


David Friedmann

Dav. Friedmann a.k.a. David Friedman was an accomplished artist long before World War II and the Holocaust. As each of his options narrowed, he continued to produce art illustrating the events and personal experiences of his time. In December 1938, David fled from Berlin to Prague, escaping with only his artistic talent as a means to survive. In October 1941, he was deported to the Lodz Ghetto, then to camps Auschwitz-Birkenau and Gleiwitz I. He survived a Death March to Camp Blechhammer in Upper Silesia, where he was liberated on January 25, 1945 by the Red Army. He defied all odds to survive at the age of 51 years and paint again. His burning desire was to show the world the ruthless persecution, torment, and agony as practiced by the Nazis, in the hope that such barbarism would never happen again. In 1949, he fled Stalinist Czechoslovakia to Israel and later immigrated to the United States.

David Friedmann

"Photo of David Friedmann with his drawing, Mother with Two Children in Lodz Ghetto (Litzmannstadt)"
1964. Charcoal, 24" x 18".
Drawing in collection of United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Washington DC
Photo: St. Louis, Missouri, 1976

Related Links

David Friedmann Timeline
Hildegard Taussig Friedmann
Stolpersteine: Paderborner Strasse 9, Berlin
David Friedmann, A Berlin Press Artist
David Friedmann, Maler und Grafiker
Portraits of the Prague Jewish Community 1940-41
"Because... they were Jews!"
Searching or the Lost Art of David Friedmann

Artist Statement

I tried everything to make a living as a sign painter, as artist to sell pictures, and as a contractor again like in Berlin under the Nazi regime. After Miriam was born, I had to work for three, harder than before and saw no future for us here in Israel. In 1951, I had a one-man show in Tel Aviv with paintings of the concentration camps. I am sorry to say, the interest was only small and learned people do not want to talk about concentration camps.

When we arrived in New York in November 1954, I had to forget about art paintings and I had to forget what was hidden in the inner part of my heart, the pictures from the concentration camps. I had to work first to make a living and to be one of the top painters in the company. I had to work hard because my age was 61 years. However, General Outdoor Advertising didn’t care about my age; they were looking how fast I could produce the gigantic paintings.

After I was retired in 1962, sometimes I had the idea to try again, but was afraid to start, had no courage also in consideration of my wife Hilda. I had to lock my feelings in a kind of jail and close the door. So sometimes I went out, painted pictures from nature and worked on my book, later I went to the libraries to make sketches, also sketches in the streets, parks and alleys. In March 1963, I had a small exhibition in the Central Library, but it was not satisfying. I thought about the time between 1946 and 1948 when I was a successful artist.

Then in December 1963, I had enough. I told myself that all the paintings on the wall mean nothing, they no longer satisfy me, anyone can paint like that. I have to do something that nobody can do in the same way. I opened the door of the jail and in the night quietly left our bedroom for my studio, placed a piece of paper on the easel, took charcoal and made my first sketch. Now I was free again and from that time on nobody was able to stop me. In a short period of only four and one-half months, 28 new drawings were finished... Now I am satisfied, because what I am doing is not only for myself. I wish everyone had to take a good look at the artwork. They have to look at what persecution under the Nazi regime was, and it can happen again, for in America to be a Nazi, to be a Communist is not prohibited.

Against an evil world I will work further to try to put my feelings down on canvas or paper against anti-Semitism, against race hatred of all people. My wife Hilda has the same opinion.

 - David Friedman, 1964

Above is from draft of a letter by David Friedman, 1964. The addressee is unknown. Edited by Miriam Friedman Morris



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Because They Were Jews!
Copyright © 1989 Miriam Friedman Morris
All Rights Reserved

Note: No one other than Miriam Friedman Morris may represent, edit or publish the art or material.

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