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David Friedman Collection

Identifier: AR 6988/MF 742

Scope and Contents

The David Friedman collection consists of a vast amount of digital files placed on one CD. This CD contains images of David Friedman’s artwork, articles about the artwork, restitution information, memoirs and other text by his daughter Miriam about her father’s artwork and her parent’s lives, and some biographical material written by her parents and others. Most of the material focuses on David Friedman’s experiences in the Holocaust and his artwork reflecting that time, but there is also a wealth of information on his pre-war career as an illustrator in Berlin, and some documentation by attempts of the family to receive restitution for artwork confiscated by the Gestapo. Other material not on the CD consists of a draft of memoirs by David Friedman, illustrations of entertainment figures in Berlin who appeared on German Broadcasting in the 1920’s ( Der Deutsche Rundfunk, 1924-1927), and a diary handwritten by David Friedman in 1945.


  • 1910-2007


Language of Materials

The collection is in English, German, Czech and Polish.

Access Information

Collection is digitized. Follow the links in the Container List to access the digitized materials.

Readers may access the collection by visiting the Lillian Goldman Reading Room at the Center for Jewish History. We recommend reserving the collection in advance; please visit the LBI Online Catalog and click on the “Request” button

Access Restrictions

Researchers must use microfilm (MF 742).

Use Restrictions

There may be some restrictions on the use of the collection. For more information, contact:

Leo Baeck Institute, Center for Jewish History, 15 West 16th Street, New York, NY, 10011


Biographical Note

(Please note that some of this biographical material was provided by his second daughter Miriam Friedman Morris.)

David Friedman (Friedmann) was born in 1893 in Mährisch Ostrau, Austria (now Ostrava, Czech Republic). He moved to Berlin in 1911. There he learned the techniques of copper etching and lithography from Hermann Struck and was awarded a scholarship to study art with Lovis Corinth. With the breakout of World War I, he volunteered for the Austro-Hungarian Army. He served as an army artist between the years 1917 and 1918. During this time, Friedman was commissioned to draw battle scenes. He also sketched 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 famous 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, Köpfe berühmter Schachmeister (Portraits of Famous Chess Masters) and Das Schachmeister-Turnier in Mährisch Ostrau, Juli 1923 (The Chess Master Tourney 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, including František Weidmann, Jakob Edelstein, Fredy Hirsch, and František Zelenka. Some of these photograph reproductions survived; however, the majority of all artwork produced in Germany, and later in Prague, was confiscated by the Gestapo.

The Friedman family was deported on October 16, 1941, in the first transport from Prague to the Lodz Ghetto, in Poland. In the Lodz Ghetto he 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. Friedman was a slave laborer in the Auschwitz-Birkenau satellite camp Gleiwitz I. This was followed by a death march to the Blechhammer concentration camp. He was liberated towards the end of January 1945 at the age of fifty-one.

Friedman began a new collection 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. Seven of his drawings produced in 1945 surfaced in the collections of the Yad Vashem Art Museum in Jerusalem. 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. In 1954 the Friedman family, including their daughter Miriam, immigrated to the United States. Friedman worked as a commercial artist with General Outdoor Advertising Company (GOA). The company transferred him from New York City to Chicago, and finally, to St. Louis. In 1960 the family became United States citizens and dropped the double "n" in the spelling of their name.

David Friedman continued to create and exhibit works of art throughout his life. He died in 1980 in St. Louis.


0.5 Linear Feet


David Friedman (Friedmann; 1893-1980) was an artist in Berlin. During the Nazi Holocaust, he was incarcerated in the Lodz Ghetto and Auschwitz. He resumed his artistic career immediately after the war and then immigrated to the United States. His papers include artwork, memoirs, and essays focusing on his experiences in the Holocaust.


This collection has been arranged in one series.


The collection is available on one reel of microfilm.

  1. Reel 1: 1/1 - 1/6
Guide to the Papers of David Friedman (1893-1980), 1910-2007   AR 6988/MF 742
Processed by Michael Simonson
© 2007
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Description is in English.

Revision Statements

  • February 02, 2012 : Links to digital objects added in Container List.

Repository Details

Part of the Leo Baeck Institute Repository

15 West 16th Street
New York NY 10011 United States