On the occasion of Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Day 2005, I was invited to meet with eleventh-graders at the Yitzhak Rabin High School in Eilat.
In my lecture, I was asked to place an emphasis on art in the Holocaust period. In the course of gathering preliminary material, I came upon a bottomless well of works in all areas of art: plays, music, poetry, fiction, dance, children’s games, sculpture, and painting. Since I am a painter, I decided to focus on visual art, mainly painting and drawing.
Artists produced at an unbelievable scope and intensity in impossible conditions, clandestinely, at a real risk to their lives, and at the expense of their personal welfare, at a time when all of their emotional forces were meant to be directed at their basic survival, at obtaining a piece of bread, clothing, or a cup of water.
In the drawings and paintings I found, not only documentation and an indictment, but also, and mainly, testimony of one of the most inspiring forms of endurance, defiance, and survival. The artists of the Holocaust period proved that “the impulse to create cannot be repressed.”
IThe information and materials that I collected in the first stage enabled me to prepare a colorful presentation as an accompaniment to my talk. Because condensing the material and “choosing” an artist or work on which to focus were particularly difficult for me, I decided that in the future, I would present different artists in each lecture and try to select them objectively, without any pretensions of personal preference.
My lecture is accompanied by an artistic workshop for pupils, which I conduct with the close involvement of the schools’ art teachers.