University of Minnesota
Center for Holocaust & Genocide Studies


David Friedmann, A Berlin Press Artist of the 1920s

David Friedmann’s flourishing career was prematurely terminated by the rise of the Nazi regime in Germany, because he was a Jew. His discovered portraits are a joyous and deeply satisfying immersion in the cultural world and richness of a society lost.

David Friedmann (1893-1980)

Ein Berliner Pressezeichner der 1920er Jahre

By: Detlef Lorenz
Teetz, Berlin: Hentrich & Hentrich, 2008
Jüdische Miniaturen 69
ISBN 978-3-938485-77-4

Jüdische Miniaturen 69

The book was launched on the website of the publisher Hentrich & Hentrich

Translation of the German text
The painter and graphic artist David Friedmann lived in Berlin from 1911 and was a student of Hermann Struck (etching) and Lovis Corinth (painting). Until the Nazis came to power in 1933, Friedmann was a successful artist producing late impressionist landscapes, still lifes, and nudes. In 1938, he fled with his young family to Prague, only to be deported in 1941 to the Lodz Ghetto, and then in 1944 to Auschwitz. Almost all of his works were confiscated by the Gestapo and presumably destroyed. His wife and little daughter were murdered by the Nazis. Friedmann survived and painted his memories of the Ghetto and concentration camps. Later he remarried and via Israel, came to the United States, where he died after a lifetime of achievement.

During the roaring 1920s, Berlin was a city of newspapers. Newspapers appeared several times a day and were the main informational medium for this vibrant city. At that time, sketch artists produced images for the press because they were quicker and more agile than photographers with their elaborate equipment. Friedmann, who had a reputation as a brilliant and respected portraitist, had the opportunity in 1924 to sketch, mainly portraits, for various newspapers and magazines. According to his own account, he portrayed hundreds of personalities from the theater, and in music, politics, and sports. This volume shows a small selection including Arnold Schönberg, Georg Széll, Wolfgang Stresemann, Gregor Piatigorsky, Szymon Goldberg, Richard Tauber, Leo Slezak, Curt Bois, Carl Ebert, Emanuel Lasker, among others.

Josef Wolfsthal
Josef Wolfsthal
Szymon Goldberg
Szymon Goldberg
Georg Széil
Georg Széll

Exhibition: Philharmonie Berlin Stiftung Berliner Philharmoniker

November 8, 2008 – January 9, 2009
David Friedmann, Portraits of Musicians

Opening, Saturday, November 8 at 6:00pm
Dr. Helge Grünewald (Dramaturg Berlin Philharmonic)
Miriam Friedmann Morris (Speech)

Manfred Preis (Saxophone) and Thomas Bächli (Piano) perform a movement from the "Hot Sonate" by Erwin Schulhoff

On the eve of the 70th anniversary of Kristallnacht (Night of the Broken Glass), an exhibition of David Friedmann Art opened at the Berlin Philharmonic Concert Hall. His deep passion for art and music was evident in this display of 30 portrait reproductions including Jewish exiled composers, violinists, pianists, conductors, cellists, who were forced to flee during the Nazi regime. They were outstanding soloists and members of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra before it was taken over by the Nazi Government and thus became the "Reichsorchester". The portraits were among 200 drawings from the 1920s found published in the radio program magazine for all German listeners "Der Deutsche Rundfunk". From the hundreds of drawings lost during the Nazi Regime, one fatefully emerged just in time for the exhibition, the portrait of Czech violin virtuoso, Váša Příhoda.

Thanks to the enthusiastic interest and support of the Berlin Philharmonic, this exhibition triumphantly materialized as if by design. The captivating portraits were recognized as a historically significant treasure from an era that no longer exists. These talented musicians, some renown, others obscure, were all once an integral part of Germany's culture, and despite the destruction of the Third Reich, they will be remembered through the art of David Friedmann.

Mahlke Trio
Hans Mahlke (violin) Rudolf Schmidt (piano) Adolf Steiner (cello)


GIVING MUSIC A FACE, David Friedmann’s Lost Musician Portraits from the 1920s, featuring musicians and guest conductors of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, will open at Deutches Haus NYU on February 22, 2012, at 6:30pm. Members from the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra will perform at the opening.

Related Information

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

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