The Museum’s exhibition Rendering Witness: Holocaust-Era Art as Testimony displays art produced by Jews and other victims of the Nazis during the Holocaust. Each artwork in this exhibition reasserts the artist’s humanity and individuality, qualities too often obscured by iconic Holocaust photographs that were taken by the Nazis or their collaborators. We will highlight artwork from this exhibition in a series of blog posts.
In early September 1942, the Nazis deported over 15,000 Jews who were children, elderly, or sick from the Lodz Ghetto to Chelmno death camp. This deportation had the full cooperation of Mordechai Chaim Rumkowski, the controversial Chairman of the Judenrat, who hoped that cooperation with the Germans would lead to the survival of most of the Ghetto’s Jews.
This brutal deportation came to be known as the Sperre (shown at the top of the drawing as Spere). Litzmannstadt, in the upper left, was the Germanized name for Lodz.
The artwork shown below, part of the Museum’s exhibition Rendering Witness: Holocaust-Era Art as Testimony, was made by an unknown artist. This drawing leaves little to the imagination and the clipping with Rumkowsi’s announcement of a curfew in the Ghetto before the deportation helps tell the full story.
On the bottom is an excerpt from a Lodz Ghetto newspaper announcing Rumkowski’s restriction on movement before the deportation:
Announcement Number 391
All Movement Forbidden in the Ghetto
From Shabbat the 5th of September 1942, at 5:00 in the evening an order will take effect in the ghetto that all movement is forbidden in the ghetto until the call
All residents must have their work cards with them
Abraham Piller, a native of Krakow, Poland and a survivor of Mauthausen and Ebensee concentration camps, donated this drawing to the Museum of Jewish Heritage – A Living Memorial to the Holocaust. He was never imprisoned in the Lodz Ghetto but acquired this drawing from another Holocaust survivor in Bari, Italy immediately after the war. Piller later immigrated to the United States.