Testimony surveys the career of artist David Friedman (1893-1980), from his early days in Berlin to his late career in St. Louis, Missouri. The exhibition includes portraits and landscapes as well as his notable series Because They Were Jews!, a visual diary of his time in the Lodz Ghetto in Poland and his internment at the Nazi concentration camp of Auschwitz-Birkenau. Testimony is both an indictment of the horrors of the Holocaust and an affirmation of survival.
Friedman was born in Mährisch Ostrau, Austria (now Ostrava, Czech Republic) but moved to Berlin in 1911, where he studied with German impressionist Lovis Corinth. Following Friedman’s service in the Austro-Hungarian army during World War I, he earned a reputation as a portraitist of politicians and celebrities.
In 1938, fearing Nazi threats, he and his family escaped to Prague, where he continued his career until 1941 when the family was deported by the Nazis to Lodz Ghetto in Poland. All of his work from the early years of his career was confiscated and much of it was lost or destroyed. When Lodz was evacuated in 1944, Friedman was separated from his wife and daughter, who were later killed during the Holocaust, and was sent to Auschwitz-Birkenau. He survived the concentration camp, married a fellow survivor, Hildegard Taussig, and left for the new country of Israel in 1949. Six years later, Friedman left for the United States, where he ultimately settled in St. Louis and worked as a commercial artist for the General Outdoor Advertising Company.