University of Minnesota
Center for Holocaust & Genocide Studies


David Friedmann

Timeline - Artist as Witness


Born December 20, in Mährisch Ostrau, Austria-Hungary (today Ostrava, Czech Republic). Raised in a modest home with two brothers and a sister.  Early interest in art and violin playing.  After finishing school, worked with a master sign painter for three years and received a certificate of apprenticeship.


At the age of 17, ventured to Berlin. Initially worked as a sign painter, later as a painter for the theater (scenery design).  Studied art with Leo Kober and at the school of Lewin-Funcke. 


His artistic talent is discovered.  Advised by Max Liebermann to study further with Lovis Corinth and was invited to his master class.  Studied with renowned etcher Hermann Struck (1912-1914).  Opened studio at Xantener Str. 23, the same apartment house as Felix Nussbaum.  Whether the two artists knew each other is unknown.

1917 - 1918

Served as an artist in the Austro-Hungarian Army on the Russian Front in World War I and was decorated for his bravery. He sketched combat scenes and portraits of soldiers that had distinguished themselves in battle. Returned to Berlin and his studio, producing paintings, drawings, etchings, and lithographs. With the establishment of Czechoslovakia, he automatically became a Czech citizen.

1919 - 1933

Exhibitions at the Akademie der Künste, Secession, Juryfreie, in Berlin, Breslau, Dresden, Hamburg, Leipzig, Munich and other cities. Became renowned for his portraits drawn from real life. This talent played a central role throughout his career and saved his life during the Holocaust.  In 1921, he studied violin with Richard Hartzer, under the direction of Carl Flesch. He joined the Freemasons, St. Johannisloge “Germania zur Einigkeit” from January 26, 1922 until the closing down of the lodges by the German Reich.  Portrayed most of the members.

1923 - 1933

Freelance artist for Ullstein-Verlag, Der Deutsche Rundfunk, and other publications.

Lovis Corinth Funeral
Funeral for Lovis Corinth in the Secession.
For the „B.Z. am Mittag" sketched by Friedmann, July 22, 1925
Richard Tauber
Richard Tauber
Paul Graetz
Paul Graetz
Meinhart Maur
Meinhart Maur
Max Rostal
Max Rostal
James Simon
James Simon
Leo Slezak
Leo Slezak
Therese Rothauser
Therese Rothauser
Karl Zander
Karl Zander
Hedwig Wangel
Hedwig Wangel
Hansi Freudberg
Hansi Freudberg

Portrayed hundreds of famous contemporary personalities, including portfolio editions of world chess champions „Das Schachmeister Tournier in Mährisch Ostrau, Juli 1923" and „Köpfe berühmter Schachmeister". 

Chess Master
Emanuel Lasker
Chess Masters
Akiba Rubinstein
Chess Masters
Heinrich Wolf

They were among the great chess masters of Europe until Hitler came to power in 1933.

Lost Portraits of Famous Chess Masters by Friedmann


Jewish work prohibition.  Ordered to remove art from galleries; forbidden to work as an artist and closed his studio.  Built a successful business renovating buildings, which was permitted because of his Czech citizenship.


Married Mathilde Fuchs, daughter of philologist Prof. Dr. Maximillian Fuchs.


In September, the birth of daughter Mirjam Helene. In December, fled to Prague leaving behind hundreds of etchings, lithographs, drawings, and paintings. His art was confiscated by the Gestapo in Berlin in 1941 and was never recovered: Lost Art Internet Database. Once again he enjoyed painting for himself and working as an artist. In 1940-1941 he produced portraits of the leading Zionists, governing officials of the Palestine Office and the Jewish Community of Prague.

family photo

Mathilde, Mirjam Helene, and David Friedmann
Prague, February 7, 1940


October 16, deported with his family on the first transport “A” from Prague to the Lodz Ghetto (Litzmannstadt).  The new art production was confiscated.

1941 - 1944

In Lodz Ghetto he worked in Metall II as designer of jewelry, cigarette cases, and badges for doctors and firefighters. He painted scenes of his family, documented work in the factories and the infernal life of the Ghetto. Produced portraits of the leaders in exchange for provisions; otherwise, they would have perished.  He kept a diary and wrote poetry.  Contributor to “The Chronicle of the Lodz Ghetto 1941-1944”. His art and diary were lost.

Photos of 1943 drawings of a Ghetto hat-manufacturing workshop found in the State Archive in Lodz


End of August, liquidation of Ghetto and deportation to Auschwitz-Birkenau.  Loss of wife and child. Loss of works produced in the Ghetto. Transport to Concentration Camp Gleiwitz I; Survived primarily as an artist by the whims of the SS.


Death March to Concentration Camp Blechhammer, Oberschlesien. He was liberated January 25 and went to Krakow, Ostrava, and Prague. He produced a series of drawings and paintings depicting his experiences in the Ghetto and concentration camps. In 1946-1947, exhibitions took place in Palestine, Prague, and several towns in the former Sudetenland, Czechoslovakia. Inspired by the industrial landscape, he painted the series, "Life of the Coalmine Workers of Habartov."


Marriage to Hildegard Taussig, survivor of the Theresienstadt Ghetto, Auschwitz-Birkenau, and Christianstadt Concentration Camps. Daughter of chemical engineer Karl Taussig: Hildegard Taussig's Holocaust Timeline.


In July, fled Communist Czechoslovakia to Israel, managing to deceive officials and save his series of Holocaust art.


Birth of daughter Miriam in Israel.


Arrived in New York City in November.  Began new career painting huge billboards for General Outdoor Advertising Co.  Transferred by GOA to Chicago, Illinois and then finally, to St. Louis, Missouri in 1956.


American citizen.  Dropped the double “n” spelling of surname.


Retired from GOA at the age of 68. Worked passionately and relentlessly to create the scenes he could not erase from his memory. This new cycle of Holocaust art is entitled, "Because They Were Jews!". Simultaneously he produced, "Enjoyment in Libraries with the Candid Pencil of David Friedman." The collection of drawings of library patrons was donated to the Modern Graphic History Library at Washington University in St. Louis.

Friedmann Drawing

"Liberation?" (Charcoal, 1964)
A drawing from the series, "Because They Were Jews!"

arm tattoo number

Hildegard Taussig Friedman: Prisoner No. A-4622
David Friedman: Prisoner No. B-8600

Photo by Bob Holt: St. Louis, Missouri, 1961


Died February 27, St. Louis, Missouri.

The works of David Friedmann are represented in the permanent collections of the Holocaust History Museum, Yad Vashem, Jerusalem; Beit Terezin, Givat Haim Ihud, Israel; United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Washington D.C.; St. Louis Holocaust Museum and Learning Center; St. Louis Public Library; Finkelstein Memorial Library, NY; State Museum Auschwitz-Birkenau, Poland; Jewish Museum Prague; Ostrava Museum; Sokolov Regional Museum, Czech Republic; New Synagogue Berlin - Centrum Judaicum, Germany; and the Koninklijke Bibliotheek, National Library of the Netherlands.

selfportrait 1967

Self-Portrait of the Artist David Friedman, 1967
St. Louis, Missouri

Related Information

Return to Friedman Homepage

Return to "Because...they were Jews!"

Site constructed with permission of Miriam Friedman Morris

Miriam Friedman Morris

David Friedman Collection
Copyright ©2004MiriamFriedman Morris
All Rights Reserved

Das Schachmeister Tournier in Mährisch Ostrau, Juli 1923
Copyright © 1999MiriamFriedman Morris
All Rights Reserved

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