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David Friedman (Friedmann) was born in 1893 in Mährisch Ostrau, Austria (now Ostrava, Czech Republic). He moved to Berlin in 1911, where he studied T etching and lithography under Hermann Struck and was awarded a scholarship to study art with Lovis Corinth. During World War I, he served as an army artist between the years 1917 and 1918 in the Austrian Army, drawing battle scenes and painted portraits of generals and soldiers who had distinguished themselves in battle.
After returning to Berlin, Friedman had his first exhibition at the Akademie der Künste in the spring of 1919. He also published some of his works in the Jewish newspaper, Schlemiel. Friedman gained recognition for his artistic work that was published in various newspapers as well as exhibitions in the Berliner Secession and numerous galleries throughout Germany. His specialty was portraits drawn from real life. Besides politicians and dignitaries, Friedman produced portraits of celebrities, opera singers, actors, musicians, and sports stars. Some individuals of note that posed for him included Albert Einstein, Ramsay MacDonald and Yehudi Menuhin. He was also renowned for a series of lithographs, Portraits of Famous Chess Master) and The Chess Master Championship in Mährisch Ostrau, July 1923).
In December 1938, Friedman fled from the Nazis with his wife Mathilde and their infant daughter, Mirjam Helene, to Prague. In Prague, Friedman produced many portraits of prominent Jews and personalities, most of which was later in Prague, was later confiscated by the Gestapo.
The Friedman family was deported on October 16, 1941, to the Lodz Ghetto, in Poland, where Friedman was a contributor to the “Chronicle of the Lodz Ghetto 1941-1944", along with Oskar Rosenfeld and others. In August of 1944 he was deported to Auschwitz, after having been separated from his family. Neither his wife nor daughter survived. He was liberated towards the end of January 1945 at the age of fifty-one.
After the war, Friedman began a new series of work portraying what he had witnessed and experienced during his internment, translating his memories into over 100 individual works. They depict his experiences and scenes from the Holocaust, from his deportation from Prague, to his survival in the Lodz Ghetto and the subsequent Nazi death and labor camps. His series entitled Because They Were Jews! was the first art collection to be accepted by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington D.C. Friedman also created works during his incarceration in the ghetto and at Auschwitz-Birkenau. These pieces were lost except for one drawn portrait found in the collections of the State Museum of Auschwitz-Birkenau.
In 1948, David Friedman married Hildegard Taussig, a survivor of Theresienstadt, Auschwitz-Birkenau, and Christianstadt. They went to Israel in 1949 settling in the U.S.in 1954 with their daughter Miriam. Friedman worked as a commercial artist with General Outdoor Advertising Company (GOA) furst in New York, before he was transferred to Chicago, and finally, to St. Louis. David Friedman continued to create and exhibit works of art throughout his life. He died in 1980 in St. Louis.
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Friedmann, David, 1893-1980: Mountain Landscape, Leo Baeck Institute Art and Objects Collection, 2016.07.
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