Persecuted for Their Judaism in Germany and for Their German Origins in America

The story of the Jewish refugees from Germany who fled the Nazis to Latin America and found themselves in internment camps in the United States during World War II

Jewish prisoner Leo Hamermann

After his factory was set on fire, his property confiscated, and two months spent behind bars, Max Brill finally managed to leave Nazi Germany with his family in 1937, beginning a new life in Guayaquil, Ecuador.

He worked in electronics for a while, but then opened a pub and seemed to be on the road to social and economic rehabilitation. However, Brill found himself once more in a state of economic uncertainty when the United States of America entered World War II and his name made it onto the U.S. embassy’s blacklist of German-owned businesses.

Brill had difficulty advertising his business in the local press or even purchasing merchandise. Local suppliers were afraid of doing business with a person on the blacklist for fear that they might end up on the list themselves. His repeated appeals to the embassy claiming he couldn’t be a Nazi supporter because he himself was Jewish and had been forced to emigrate from Germany due to the regime’s persecution fell on deaf ears.

In a separate case from May 1944, the new Bolivian government, which had seized power in a coup in December 1943 and had yet to be recognized by the United States, was forced to hand over a number of German and Japanese citizens living in its territories, some of them without any semblance of proper justification.

These examples illustrate one of the most bizarre anomalies of World War II—the blacklisting of eighty-one Jews, the confiscation of their assets and their subsequent imprisonment in internment camps in the United States, along with 4,707 citizens of the Axis countries who had been living in Latin America, most of them Germans. The very same Jews who had left Germany because of their Judaism, were persecuted in their country of refuge because of their German origins. During part of their imprisonment, they were even detained in the same camps as those who held Nazi views.

Germans began migrating to South and Central America as early as the 19th century. Some owned large coffee plantations or engaged in large-scale trade. Those with means were connected through economic and family ties to the local elites. After Hitler came to power, a number of them joined the Nazi party—some due to a belief in racial purity and Nazi ideology, and others in order to maintain good relations with the German authorities, or to ensure the safety of their families back in Germany, or to secure the German state’s continued partial funding of local German institutions.

Most of the Germans in South and Central America did not join the Nazi party, but neither did they display any ideological opposition to the regime. While there was friction between the “old guard” and members of the Nazi party over control of the community’s cultural and educational institutions, it seems that these conflicts had more to do with personal and intergenerational tensions than with ideological differences.

A voting form for German diaspora communities on the Anschluss. The voting took place on board German ships stationed near South American port cities

In any case, the establishment of the new regime in Germany led to the spread of the Nazi party in South America and a rupture in relations within the German diaspora communities, between Jews and non-Jews. Some of the Nazi leaders wanted to replicate the persecution of Jews that was being carried out in Germany and target the local German Jewish population as well. Eric Heinemann, one of the leaders of the Jewish community in Guatemala and later Israel’s ambassador to the country, noted that only four families out of all the Germans in Guatemala continued to maintain friendly relations with his family after Hitler came to power. Moreover, Hentschke, the leader of the Nazi party in Guatemala, even organized surveillance of Jewish homes to make sure that the local Germans were indeed boycotting them.

The growing concern in the United States over Germany’s military successes and the U.S. decision to join the war in late 1941 led the government to take action against German citizens. The U.S. administration saw them as a potential fifth column and decided to issue blacklists of German-owned businesses. American companies were prohibited from trading with the businesses on the list. Later, Central American countries and a number of South American states were forced to hand over Germans suspected of Nazi activity to the American administration. The U.S. however, which relied on corrupt and self-interested local intelligence sources, did not conduct a thorough examination of the candidates for deportation and thus Germans who had nothing to do with the Nazi party, and even anti-Nazis and Jews persecuted by the Nazis were sent to prison in the United States along with Nazi party activists.

A list of foreign citizens living in Bolivia, prepared by the FBI (of the 12,000 Germans, 8,500 were Jews)

The conditions in the internment camps weren’t exceptionally harsh and the detainees’ basic needs were reasonably met. At the family camp near Crystal City, Texas, there was a school, cultural institutions and even a makeshift swimming pool. Each child received a daily milk ration. However, life for the Jewish detainees was not easy, as the most vocal and powerful group in the camp were the Nazi supporters, who sometimes harassed the Jewish detainees. For example, in the Stringtown internment camp, pro-Nazi detainees managed for a while to prevent the Jewish detainees from attending English classes and from taking part in the camp’s sports and cultural activities. Eighteen Jews who were housed in a steamy bunk next to the camp’s showers faced daily antisemitic ridicule from passers-by.

German prisoners from South America arriving at Camp Kenedy, an internment camp in Texas

Luckily for the Jewish inmates, in March 1942 the Department of Justice assumed control of the camps from the State Department. The Justice Department officials were more sensitive to questions concerning the legality of incarcerating people without trial solely because of their background, and without any evidence of subversive, pro-Nazi activity. Jewish and refugee organizations pleaded the case of most of the Jewish detainees and in the spring and summer of 1943 the Jews were transferred to a separate camp near Algiers, Louisiana. Within a year, all but six detainees received a conditional release. They were allowed to make a living, and some were even able to volunteer to serve in the United States military. After the end of World War II, seventy-five of the Jewish prisoners decided to move permanently to the United States. Only two returned to South America.

It turned out that the American imprisonment of German citizens offered an opportunity to save Jews from the Holocaust. Hoping to “repatriate” some of its citizens in the diaspora, Nazi Germany had built a special compound inside the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp for this purpose. This facility was intended to house Jews who had real or forged documents testifying to some connection to countries in North or South America. So long as the Nazis had hope of exchanging their own citizens for these detainees, the detainees were kept alive. However, the U.S. government’s reluctance to send its German detainees back to Germany, mainly due to the fear of strengthening the German war machine, meant that very few Germans were actually returned to Germany in exchange for Jews with ties to the United States or to countries in Latin America. The failure of these efforts meant that these Jews had lost their importance as bargaining chips. Only a handful of them managed to survive the war.


Further Reading:

Friedman, Max Paul, Nazis and Good Neighbors: The United States Campaign Against the Germans of Latin America in World War II, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003

Strum, Harvey, “Jewish Internees in the American South, 1942-1945”, American Jewish Archives 42,1 (1990), pp. 27-4

Hannah Senesh’s Hanukkah

In December of 1933, a 12-year-old Hannah Senesh composed a Hanukkah poem that concluded with the words: “These candles encourage us at every turn, fear not Israel, the time is yet to come."

Hannah Senesh and her handwritten poem “Hanukkah"

Hannah Senesh was born and raised in Budapest, in an urban Jewish environment that was well-versed in the trends and fashions of Hungary’s cultural elite. In her teenage years, she cultivated her literary talent by writing diaries and poems. Her ambition was to continue in the footsteps of her father, Béla Szenes, an acclaimed writer, journalist and playwright in Hungary who died prematurely, at the age of 33.

Among Hannah Senesh’s archival materials deposited at the National Library of Israel in 2020, is a notebook containing poems she wrote in her youth starting from when she was just seven years old. She would dictate her poems to her maternal grandmother, Fini, who would write them down in beautiful and neat script in special notebooks that are now preserved in Jerusalem. The poems that Hannah wrote throughout her childhood years reveal her sense of grief following the death of her father, as well as her joy and excitement at the changing of the seasons and the transformation of the landscape in her native Hungary,

However, alongside these writings dedicated to her homeland and her own personal experiences, there is also one surprising poem dedicated to the festival of Hanukkah. Senesh wrote this one on December 10, 1933, when she was only 12 years old. The Senesh family were not particularly religious, and it appears that Hannah wrote the poem while attending the Baar-Madas school in Budapest.  Though Baar-Madas is a Calvinist institution, the poem was likely written after one of the “religion lessons” given to Jewish girls who attended the school.

Senesh’s mother Katrina brought these notebooks to Israel, and the poem was later translated into Hebrew by the poet Avigdor Hameiri, on the occasion of the publication of the book Hannah Senesh: Her Life, Mission and Death (Hebrew), on the first anniversary of her death.


Here is a translation of the poem into English:




On Hanukkah, the candles are kindled, every Jewish heart quivers;

In our hearts rise up images of nations long since passed, ancient and great;

Of the days of Egyptian suffering, the kingdom of Greece, and our strength was not broken by any foreign rule;

We carried our Torah from place to place, from which we drew our faith and virtue;

We wandered through the wilderness, hungry and destitute, but God is with us – we will not be alone;

And we are descended from the same fathers, we will not give up. But will stay and fight;

These candles encourage us at every turn, fear not Israel, the time is yet to come.


Despite her young age, the poem already hints at the spirit of national pride and determination that would characterize Senesh in her adulthood, and also the impression left by Hanukkah’s nationalist ideas on her youthful soul.

The Senesh Family Archive is deposited at the National Library of Israel, with thanks to the Eisen Family.

The Wise Men of Chelm: The Unfair Shaming of a Jewish Community

How did the Jews of Chelm, a city in Poland, acquire their reputation as a "town of fools"? Could Chelm have actually been a community of great sages? We set out in search of the true story behind this odd piece of Jewish folklore…

The Wise Men of Chelm. Cover illustration of the book The King's Golden Shoes (Hebrew). Adapted by Nurit Yuval. Illustrations: Shay Cherka

There is no wise man whose wisdom is as famous as the foolishness of Chelm, with the exception of the wisdom of King Solomon

—Yiddish writer Eliezer Bloom, a native of Chelm

The most famous story about the foolishness of the wise men of Chelm, and the one story that appears in every book about them, tells of how the town’s men attempted to move their neighboring mountain. Years after the town’s founding, as the people of Chelm married and raised children, the community eventually became overcrowded with young and old alike. Despite the rumors concerning their questionable mental capacity, the Chelmites realized correctly that their town had no choice but to expand as the population grew. There was a problem, however: the adjacent mountain was preventing the town from spreading out naturally.

For seven days and seven nights Chelm’s residents deliberated over the best way to solve the issue, until they decided to simply push the mountain out of the way. The next day, all the townsmen rallied together and gathered at the foot of the mountain to begin pushing with all their might. As the sun beat down on their toiling bodies, they became hot and sweaty, eventually removing their coats and leaving them in a big pile. Thieves who happened to be passing by noticed the pile of coats and without hesitating made off with the whole lot. When the people of Chelm finished their day’s work of pushing their mountain they turned back to survey the scene. With the pile of coats nowhere to be seen, they concluded that the mission had been a success and that the mountain had been pushed so far that their coats were no longer visible.

The city of Chelm expands. This is the version I read as a child: The Wise Men of Chelm, collected and adapted by Nurit Yuval. Illustrations: Dani Kerman. Inbal Publishers, 1986

Those who came across the humorous tales of Chelm as children could be forgiven for thinking that Chelm was a place of legend, a kind of Jewish Atlantis populated by Jewish fools. Yet a bit of historical research reveals that Chelm is not a fictitious place at all, but rather a very real location with an extensive and rich Jewish history.

The Jewish community in the town of Chelm in southeastern Poland prospered for over five hundred years. Its representatives were even quite active in the “Council of Four Lands” (Va’ad Arba Aratzot), the central administrative body of Polish Jewry from the 16th century to the 18th century. From the population censuses conducted in Poland, we know that at the outbreak of World War II, there were 15,000 Jews living in Chelm, accounting for fifty percent of its residents. The Holocaust did not spare the Jews of Chelm, some of whom were murdered in the town itself, though most were sent to the Sobibor extermination camp.

An image of the “Jews’ street” in the town of Chelm, Poland. The Joseph and Margit Hoffman Judaica Postcard collection

Contrary to the widespread stigma, the town of Chelm actually produced quite a few proper Torah sages. One of the most prominent was Rabbi Solomon of Chelm, who became famous for his work Merkavat HaMishneh (or Mirkeves HaMishneh). According to his own testimony, Rabbi Solomon of Chelm also studied philosophy and science—a rare thing in his day—and he is considered one of the forerunners of the Jewish Enlightenment. In the preface to Merkavat HaMishneh, Rabbi Solomon prided himself on his broad secular knowledge, and even called on others to study secular subjects: “And the Bible stands wide open, ‘She has hewn her seven pillars’, and why do you not keep this on your lips, for ‘this is your wisdom and understanding to the nations’,” he wrote in reference to the seven liberal arts.

These are just a few of the Hebrew books collecting stories of the Wise Men of Chelm

Indeed, the labeling of Chelm as a community of fools seems in itself to be quite silly. That is to say, it is not based on historical truth (how can it be?), nor even on a well-known group of fools who originated in Chelm. The accepted hypothesis for the origin of the mislabeling is much simpler. In his Hebrew book Mila Be’Sela (“Word in Stone”) writer and linguist Uri Sela writes: “In the Slavic languages, ḥolem means fool. And since the pronunciations of ḥolem and Chelm are similar, ḥolem became the city of fools in our treasury of proverbs.” In other words, an entire community was mislabeled due to a fluke of pronunciation, and that is a hard label to shake off.

The inhabitants of historical Chelm were well aware of the funny (in their opinion, misguided) stories concerning their intellect—or rather their amusing lack of it. In fact it seems they actively tried to dispel the stigma – the authors of the Chelm pinkas (the community ledger) recall their town as a place that was home to a great number of scholars. According to them, immediately after the six days of creation, angels set out from the spirit world with three sacks full of souls: one sack contained the souls of fools, another sack contained the souls of the wise and a third sack held the souls of great sages. The angels flew over the cities and villages distributing just the right amount of souls from their sacks. By the time one of these angels reached the skies over Chelm, he was already quite tired and didn’t notice the big tree growing on the top of the huge mountain next to it. The tree ripped open the sack containing the souls of great sages, scattering them over Chelm. And ever since then, the town has been full of extraordinarily bright and wise individuals.

The origin of the wise sages of Chelm. Illustration from The Wise Men of Chelm, collected and adapted by Nurit Yuval. Illustrations: Dani Kerman. Inbal Publishers, 1986

The idea of ​​a city populated by fools is not an originally Jewish one. The first historical city to be burdened with this unflattering stereotype was the ancient Greek city of Abdera. Although it was one of the great centers of Greek foreign trade as well as the birthplace of the philosophers Democritus, Protagoras and Hecataeus, Abdera’s citizens were known throughout Greece as being quite foolish. The Abderites were the Chelmites of the ancient world.

We do not know the exact origin of the tales surrounding the intellect of the Chelmites. Similar legends about cities whose inhabitants weren’t the sharpest crayons in the box were already popularized even before the Common Era. Nevertheless, we cannot ignore a question that has been troubling us since we began writing this article: Were the stories about the wisdom of the people of Chelm really intended to be meanspirited or did they have an ulterior motive?

Obviously, these stories were not typical tales of heroism and sacrifice. No wise man from Chelm ever saved a princess from a dragon or defeated a cruel enemy in battle. And yet, this is precisely their strength: the stories and jokes about the wise men of Chelm are stories “about the day-to-day, about regular folk and their naïve and occasionally ridiculous struggles to survive, to overcome adversity, to live”. This is how writer Adir Cohen, an expert in education and bibliotherapy, explains the humor of the wise men of Chelm.

The poet and literary scholar Israel Haim Biletzky, who recorded many of the stories, writes about another aspect: “The Chelm tale is silent where its wisdom commands it to be silent. Its eyes are wide open wherever the situation requires. It is charged with life’s tribulations. It is reconciliation with man and with God, it is not a clenched fist, ready for the punch. Those who are willing to, will treasure it.” In other words, the next time you need a pick-me-up, instead of watching the latest light-hearted comedy or stand-up special on Netflix, how about reading a story or two about Chelm and its wise folk? It’s guaranteed to make you smile

And we’ll conclude with a final Chelm story to brighten your day, this time about the building of Chelm itself. After the souls of the wise were scattered at the foot of the mountain, the Chelmites decided to build themselves a large and beautiful town to live in. They built their houses out of wood, cutting down the tries on the mountaintop. To transport them down the mountain, each Chelmite carried a large wooden log on his back.

One day, a Jew from another city happened by the construction site and asked the residents why they did not simply roll the logs down the mountain. When the Chelmites tried out his idea, they discovered that this was the wise and proper thing to do. Once again they convened the city council and debated the proposal for seven days and seven nights. In the end they concluded that it was indeed better to roll the logs from the top of the mountain to the bottom. As soon as the decision was made, the wise men of Chelm understood what they had to do – they proceeded to carry all the logs that already sat at the foot of the mountain back up to the top, and from there they rolled them all back down.

Besides the more recent adaptations there are also classics such as the book by Nobel Prize laureate Isaac Bashevis Singer, The Fools of Chelm and Their History


Further Reading:

Isaac Bashevis Singer, The Fools of Chelm and Their History, pictures by Uri Shulevitz, translated by the author and Elizabeth Shub, New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1973

אדיר כהן, “ההומור של חכמי חלם”, מעגלי קריאה 30, מאי 2004

אורי סלע, מלה בסלע, הוצאת כתר, 1990


Who Are the Jews Depicted in These Holocaust-Era Portraits?

“These were powerful images I saw – to give form to all that misery – to show it to the world – this was always my intent”. The artist David Friedmann produced hundreds of portraits during the time of the Nazi occupation in Prague. Surviving are only ninety-four portraits of members of the Prague Jewish Community from the years 1940-1941. Yet numerous subjects depicted in these artworks remain unidentified to this day. Can you help us solve this mystery?

A charcoal portrait drawing of an unknown subject, from the Album of David Friedmann, donated to the Yad Vashem Art Museum

I was born in Israel in 1950, and named after my father’s first daughter.

In 1954, our family immigrated to America and settled in St. Louis, Missouri. I grew up immersed in the world of art and culture. One day my father took an album from the bookcase and there, at the dining room table, I learned more about his art and the great losses he endured during his life.

My father, David Friedman(n), was born December 20, 1893, in Mährisch Ostrau, Austria-Hungary, (Ostrava, Czechia). In 1911, he ventured to Berlin and studied etching with Hermann Struck and painting with Lovis Corinth. During WWI, he served in the Austro-Hungarian Army as a battle artist and returned to his Berlin studio after the war. He achieved acclaim for his portraits drawn from life and became a leading press artist of the 1920s, sketching hundreds of cultural icons such as Albert Einstein and Max Brod.

David Friedmann in 1936 in his apartment at Paderborner Strasse 9, Berlin-Wilmersdorf, Germany


The Nazi regime abruptly upended his flourishing career in 1933. Friedmann fled to Prague in 1938, with his wife Mathilde and infant daughter Mirjam Helene, escaping the Nazis with only his artistic talent as a means to survive. The Gestapo looted his oeuvre left behind in Berlin. In Prague, my father worked as an artist again, making it known he wished to produce an album. He received orders for portraits and sketched the leaders of the Jewish Community and officials of the Palestine Office, many of them prominent Zionists, later murdered in Auschwitz.

In 1941, David Friedmann was deported to the Lodz Ghetto with his family, and the Nazi authorities once again looted his works. He continued to depict human fate in his art, as a prisoner in the Lodz Ghetto, in the Auschwitz subcamp Gleiwitz I, and as a survivor. His wife and daughter were murdered.

Liberated at the age of 51, Friedmann believed he lived for a reason, as noted in his 1945 postwar diary [in German]:

“These were powerful images I saw – to give form to all that misery – to show it to the world – this was always my intent.”

The art series was titled, “Because They Were Jews!” In 1948, in Prague, Friedmann wed Hildegard Taussig (1921-1989) a survivor of Theresienstadt, Auschwitz and Christianstadt. High-ranking military officers wanted his artwork for Prague’s War Museum. Defying an export prohibition, the couple fled communist Czechoslovakia to Israel in 1949, thus saving his artwork, albums, and historical documents.


Miracles of Survival

The album my father showed me many years ago contains 50 postcard-size portrait prints and photos amid other works produced throughout his life. Among the subjects are Jakob Edelstein, Dr. Franz Weidmann and Fredy Hirsch, but many are still nameless today. The serious faces reflect the stress of persecution and an uncertain future. I was captivated. At my request, my father entrusted this treasure to me at the age of 22 years. I wondered how he could part with the album, a profound piece of his past and the people he had sketched and befriended.

Fredy Hirsch, a portrait print from the Album of David Friedmann, donated to the Yad Vashem Art Museum


My father added names and captions to numerous portraits — invaluable clues for the task ahead — to identify and learn the fate of each subject — and reconstruct the story. Thus began a decades-long project in 1994. I shared the portraits worldwide and several subjects were recognized by survivors.

Portraits were discovered at the National Museum and Jewish Museum in Prague, Beit Terezin in Israel, as well as in private collections. At the National Museum theater department, three identical postcard-size portraits of František Zelenka awaited me. The fourth is displayed in my father’s album along with duplicates of Dr. Leo Kraus and Viktor Popper. I wondered what was the significance of the identical duplicate portraits. The story continued to unfold.

Thirty-six postcard-size portraits surfaced at Beit Terezin. Among this collection are Franz Kahn, Leo Janowitz, and Otto Zucker. Seven portraits were identical to those displayed in my father’s album: Hans Löw, Stefan Pollak, Rudolf Leipen, Wally Bloch, Ernst Jelinek, Viktor Popper and Hannah Steiner. However, the Eureka moment was Elly Eisinger. The Jewish Museum holds the original pen-and-ink drawings on tracing paper mounted on paper of Eisinger and Weidmann. Somehow the larger originals were used by my father to produce his smaller-sized prints.

Portrait of Elly Eisinger, 1940. She survived. Pen-and ink-drawing on tracing paper, mounted on paper, the Visual Arts Collection of the Jewish Museum in Prague


Numerous portraits have dedications handwritten on the reverse side to Dr. Leo Kraus, the law department head of the Palestine Office in Prague. However, the Beit Terezin archive did not have the Kraus portrait or evidence he was the donor. Kraus was interviewed by Beit Terezin. At 98 years, he had no recollection of the portraits, but remembered the artist. It is still a mystery how the collection survived, but the provocative question remains – who donated the portraits to Beit Theresienstadt?

Dr. Leo Kraus, a portrait print by David Friedmann, courtesy of Dorit Gan-Mor


I contacted Dorit Gan-Mor, Kraus’ daughter, who searched among her father’s books and discovered his postcard-sized portrait, as well as Dr. Kurt Heller and Dr. Ruth Hoffe. I saw the identical Hoffe portrait print in the collection of Judita Chudy. Then, as fate would have it, the original charcoal pencil drawing of Hoffe emerged at the Jewish Museum. His tracings were made “after” the completion of the larger, original portrait drawing. To summarize: The drawings of Weidmann, Eisinger and Hoffe, are evidence they were used to produce the smaller postcard-size versions with the subject and artist signatures as part of the print. The portraits were ordered in multiples and exchanged between colleagues and friends, often with dedications on the reverse side.

Dr. Ruth Hoffe, charcoal pencil portrait by David Friedmann, the Visual Arts Collection of the Jewish Museum in Prague


Help Us Identify the Subjects – Can You Decipher These Signatures?

One of the starkest traumas of the Holocaust — people not only lost their lives, but also traces of their existence. A portrait may be the only image to remain of the victim.

Impeding a successful search are subjects who signed only their surname, eg., Batscha, Adler, and those with common names like Otto Löwy. Even if the signature is legible, one cannot always confirm the identity. In the case of the two victims pictured below, the signatures are unreadable, even among Czech and German friends. Klara is the only subject with a real smile, but only her first name warrants a guess. The second portrait reads D. or Dr. Hermann.

Klara? Portrait print of an unknown subject, courtesy of Beit Theresienstadt, Israel


Can you decipher the signature in the portrait above?


Who was Dr. Hermann? Portrait print courtesy of Beit Theresienstadt, Israel


A close-up view of the signature in the portrait above


Subjects lacking a positive match despite signing a complete name are Hans Kaminsky and Fritz Löwenstein. The ID photo is imperative for comparison. However, the complete name is necessary to search databases, testimony, documents, and deportation lists. Ninety-four meticulously portrayed subjects by David Friedmann are known to have survived.

The signature reads “Hans Kaminsky”, but a positive match has yet to be found. Portrait print courtesy of Beit Theresienstadt, Israel


The signature reads “Fritz Löwenstein”, but a positive match has yet to be found. Portrait print courtesy of Beit Theresienstadt, Israel


Name unknown, a portrait print courtesy of Beit Theresienstadt, Israel


Can you decipher the signature in the portrait above?


Name unknown, a portrait print courtesy of Beit Theresienstadt, Israel


A close-up view of the signature in the portrait above


The portraits are a testament to the enormous loss of lives, creative potential and accomplishments of the Jewish victims. The expressions he chose, his ability to capture emotions, the attitude of his line, all show us his thoughts. The portraits give face to numerous known and unknown victims — historically significant evidence of a dynamic Jewish community destroyed by the Nazi regime. Additional portraits could still be in private collections.

The charcoal drawings below were not signed by the subject because the portraits were not intended for prints.

Name unknown, a charcoal portrait drawing from the Album of David Friedmann, donated to the Yad Vashem Art Museum


Name unknown, a charcoal portrait drawing from the Album of David Friedmann, donated to the Yad Vashem Art Museum


Name unknown, a charcoal portrait drawing from the Album of David Friedmann, donated to the Yad Vashem Art Museum


Name unknown, a charcoal portrait drawing from the Album of David Friedmann, donated to the Yad Vashem Art Museum


I donated my father’s album to the Yad Vashem Art Museum in Jerusalem. My journey’s reward is the recognition of my father’s work as a valuable resource and contribution to Holocaust history, as well as the preservation of his portraits for future generations.

David Friedmann died February 27, 1980 in St. Louis, Missouri.



If you have information regarding the identities of the unknown subjects in the portraits above, please contact: For more about David Friedmann, please visit: or the “David Friedmann—Artist As Witness” Facebook page.

This article is based on a version titled, David Friedman Portraits of the Prague Jewish Community 1940-1941: A Timestamp in History During the Nazi Occupation, originally appearing in “Dapei Kesher,” the Beit Theresienstadt Newsletter.

A new Holocaust documentary, “Dear Miriam – The Art and Survival of David Friedmann”, by Emmy Award Winner John Rokosny, is currently in production.


See also:

The Nazis Failed to Destroy the Artist David Friedmann

The Chess Master Portraits That Escaped the Holocaust