It’s an ARTISTIC PORTFOLIO Being actualy a YIZKOR BOOK (A MEMORIAL BOOK – YISKOR BIKHER – YIZKOR BUCH) for the LITHUANIAN (Lithuania- Lita-Lite) Ghetto of KOVNO (Kowno – Kowna – Kovna) and the JEWISH TYPES who lived there , And scenes from their DAILY LIFE. The ART PORTFOLIO with its 30 large COLOR & B&W drawings and paintings was created with a great personal risk by the Jewish artist ESTHER LURIE. Surviver of the KOVNO GHETTO as well as the CONCENTRATION and the WORKING CAMPS of STUTTHOF and LEIBITZ who has gathered her IMPRESSIONS from the ghetto of Kovno in her ART , The portfolio by the name of A LIVING WITNESS. Illustrated PORTFOLIO- FILE of folded thin cardboard. Around 30 loose throughout illustrated thick stock SHEETS + 6 large pp of preface and commentaries. (Pls look at scan for accurate AS IS images). Will be sent inside a protective rigid packaging. AUTHENTICITY : This is an ORIGINAL vintage 1958 ART PORTFOLIO (Dated). The FIRST and ONLY edition. NOT a reproduction or a reprint , It holds a life long GUARANTEE for its AUTHENTICITY and ORIGINALITY. It will be sent protected inside a protective rigid packaging. The Kovno ghetto was a ghetto established by Nazi Germany to hold the Lithuanian Jews of Kaunas during the Holocaust. At its peak, the Ghetto held 40,000 people, most of whom were later sent to concentration and extermination camps, or were shot at the Ninth Fort. About 500 Jews escaped from work details and directly from the Ghetto, and joined Soviet partisan forces in the distant forests of southeast Lithuania and Belarus Establishment The Nazis established a civilian administration under SA Major General Hans Kramer to replace military rule in place from the invasion of Lithuania on June 22, 1941. The Lithuanian Provisional Government was officially disbanded by the Nazis after only a few weeks, but not before approval for the establishment of a ghetto under the supervision of Lithuanian military commandant of Kaunas Jurgis Bobelis, extensive laws enacted against Jews and the provision of auxiliary police to assist the Nazis in the genocide. Between July and August 15, 1941, the Germans concentrated Jews who survived the initial pogroms, some 29,000 people, in a ghetto established in Vilijampol (Slabodka). It was an area of small primitive houses and no running water which had been cleared of its mainly Jewish population in pogroms by Lithuanian activists beginning on June 24. Organization The ghetto had two parts, called the “small” and “large” ghetto, separated by Paneriai Street and connected by a small wooden bridge over the street. Each ghetto was enclosed by barbed wire and closely guarded. Both were overcrowded, with each person allocated less than ten square feet of living space. The Germans continually reduced the ghetto’s size, forcing Jews to relocate several times. The Germans and Lithuanians destroyed the small ghetto on October 4, 1941, and killed almost all of its inhabitants at the Ninth Fort. Later that same month, on October 29, 1941, the Germans staged what became known as the Great Action. In a single day, they shot around 10,000 Jews at the Ninth Fort. The ghetto in Kovno provided forced labor for the German military. Jews were employed primarily as forced laborers at various sites outside the ghetto, especially in the construction of a military airbase in Aleksotas. The Jewish council (Aeltestenrat; Council of Elders), headed by Dr. Elkhanan Elkes, also created workshops inside the ghetto for those women, children, and elderly who could not participate in the labor brigades. Eventually, these workshops employed almost 6,500 people. The council hoped the Germans would not kill Jews who were producing for the army. The Underground School As an act of defiance an underground school was conducted in the Kovno Ghetto when such education was banned in 1942. A remarkable photo of one of the classes of that school features in the US Holocaust publication, “The Hidden History of the Kovno Ghetto”. Identification of the teacher visible in that photo is given in a website that deals with the hidden school.  However almost all of the children in the Ghetto, approximately 2,500, were removed in the Kinder Aktion of 2728 March 1944. Smuggling Babies out of the Ghetto From 1942 births were not permitted in the ghetto and pregnant women faced death. However a number of babies of ages from about 9 months to 15 months were smuggled out of the Kovno Ghetto to willing Lithuanian foster mothers.  Final days In the autumn of 1943, the SS assumed control of the ghetto and converted it into the Kovno concentration camp. The Jewish council’s role was drastically curtailed. The Nazis dispersed more than 3,500 Jews to subcamps where strict discipline governed all aspects of daily life. On October 26, 1943, the SS deported more than 2,700 people from the main camp. The SS sent those deemed fit to work to Vaivara concentration camp in Estonia, and deported surviving children and the elderly to Auschwitz. On July 8, 1944, the Germans evacuated the camp, deporting most of the remaining Jews to the Dachau concentration camp in Germany or to the Stutthof camp, near Danzig, on the Baltic coast. Three weeks before the Soviet army arrived in Kovno, the Germans razed the ghetto to the ground with grenades and dynamite. As many as 2,000 people burned to death or were shot while trying to escape the burning ghetto. The Red Army occupied Kovno on August 1, 1944. Of Kovno’s few Jewish survivors, 500 had survived in forests or in a single bunker which had escaped detection during the final liquidation; the Germans evacuated an additional 2,500 to concentration camps in Germany. Resistance Throughout the years of hardship and horror, the Jewish community in Kovno documented its story in secret archives, diaries, drawings and photographs. Many of these artifacts lay buried in the ground when the ghetto was destroyed. Discovered after the war, these few written remnants of a once thriving community provide evidence of the Jewish community’s defiance, oppression, resistance, and death. George Kadish (Hirsh Kadushin), for example, secretly photographed the trials of daily life within the ghetto with a hidden camera through the buttonhole of his overcoat. The Kovno ghetto had several Jewish resistance groups. The resistance acquired arms, developed secret training areas in the ghetto, and established contact with Soviet partisans in the forests around Kovno. In 1943, the General Jewish Fighting Organization (Yidishe Algemeyne Kamfs Organizatsye) was established, uniting the major resistance groups in the ghetto. Under this organization’s direction, some 300 ghetto fighters escaped from the Kovno ghetto to join Jewish partisan groups. About 70 died in action. The Jewish council in Kovno actively supported the ghetto underground. Moreover, a number of the ghetto’s Jewish police participated in resistance activities. The Germans executed 34 members of the Jewish police for refusing to reveal specially constructed hiding places used by Jews in the ghetto. Notable people Aharon Barak (originally, Brick), professor of law at Hebrew University of Jerusalem and former President of the Supreme Court of Israel, spent three years in the Kovno ghetto Abe Rich and Family George Kadish, a Lithuanian Jewish photographer who documented life in the Kovno Ghetto The town of Kovno was established in the year 1030 by the Lithuanian prince Koinas. Jaroslav, at the convergence of the Nemunas and Neris rivers. The first settlement built stands on ground of the present day Kaunas old town, however due to continual invasions and war, the town was demolished and rebuilt fourteen consecutive times. Only in the year 1410, after the prince of Lithuania Vytovet (Vytautas) defeated the Germans near the villages of Grunwald and Tannenberg in Prussia, did the building of the town started progressing independently. The first Jews to arrive in Lithuania settled in Trakai, Grodno, and Brisk, and later came to Kovno as merchants. Soon, however, Jewish families began settling there permanently. Throughout history the Jews of Kovno were periodically exiled by the towns leaders and were forced on many occasions to leave Kovno. Their good fortune was that they did not need to go far; they were allowed to settle in the nearby Vilijampole. They would tend to stay there for some time before returning slowly to Kovno, only to start the cycle again. During almost every new ruler, they were once again expelled from Kovno. When Sigmund took control of the kingdom, he encouraged industry and commerce. During his rule, Jews came to the town without trouble or restriction and the Christian merchants now wanted Jews in town, for the Jews assisted them in controlling the revenue and taxation that was sent to Prussia. Kovno soon become a center of Jewish learning. The yeshiva in Slobodka, an impoverished district of the city, was one of Europe’s most prestigious institutions of higher Jewish learning. Kovno had a rich and varied Jewish culture. The city had almost 100 Jewish organizations, 40 synagogues, many Yiddish schools, 4 Hebrew high schools, a Jewish hospital, and scores of Jewish-owned businesses. It was also an important Zionist center. In 1795, during the third division of Poland, the Kovno area was annexed to the Russian Empire. During World War I, in 1915, the town was conquered by Germany, although it was soon liberated from the German occupants and became part of Poland. At the end of 19th century the city of Kaunas was fortified, and by 1890 it was encircled by eight forts and nine gun batteries. The construction of the Ninth Fort began in 1902 and was completed on the eve of First World War. From 1924-on Ninth Fort was used as the city of Kovnos’ prison. In WW1 the first to suffer in result of the war among the Lithuanian Jews were the Jews of Kovno. Soon after the outbreak of war on the first of August 1914, thousands of residents left the town. As the warfront approached, a few thousand Jews transferred to Vilna and other settlements in the area. On May 18, 1915, the head of the Russian army, the great prince Nikolai Nikolaiovich ordered that all the Jews, without exception, be expelled from the city of Kovno. This order was immediately executed with no pity or consideration toward even those who were sick or handicapped. The town was cleared of Jews. Jewish apartments and businesses were officially shut down by the police and military authorities; Lithuanian Christians took over the Jews possessions and looted their homes. Only a minor part of the exiled Jews were able to find shelter in Vilna; most were taken south and east, deep into Russia, to areas far from the border. After WW1 the Jews of Kovno were represented in all the various prominent municipal committees, and a large number of Jewish clerks were employed by various institutions at this time. This situation continued until the end of 1926, when there was a revolution of sorts in December. Nationalistic Lithuanians (Tautininkai) politically took control of Lithuania, abolishing the democratic state of the municipalities. The Lithuanians annexed villages and isolated suburbs that were populated by Lithuanians under the municipality of Kovno. The overall percentage of Jews in the town population therefore decreased. The mayor of Kovno became Vokietaitis; he was later succeeded by Markys. A spirit of fierce patriotism now spread through Lithuania and anti-Semitism took root in the offices of the local administration. The nationalists tried to uproot the established Jewish financial institutions in town, limiting the contribution to Jewish educational institutions as well as decreasing cultural assistance for the Jews. They also limited the number of working clerks of Jewish background. The nationalists aim was to underscore and abolish the influence of the Jews in town, a town where at least 25% of the population was Jewish, and the share of the economy contingent upon Jews was greater than even that. Most of the Jewish youth congregated in Zionist movements like Hashomer Hazayir, Beitar, the Zionist youth, majakiva, Gordonija, and the ZS. There were student unions and sports unions like Makaby, Hapoel, and others that developed sophisticated educational systems and trained young Jews for immigration to and agricultural life in Israel. The Chalutz opened a training kibbutz in the town, which included the corporate carpentry of the Chalutz, managed by A. The activities of the left were limited, both because it had little influence on the community and because it was officially forbidden for many years. The communist left came out from underground only when the Soviets invaded and occupied Lithuania. That year, all the educational and cultural institutions of the Jews were transferred to the control of Communist Jews. On 28 September 1939, when Germany and Russia divided Poland, Russia also concluded pacts with Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia, obtaining from them rights to military bases. Russia ceded Vilna, which had been part of Poland, to Lithuania, whose historic capital it had been. In recompense, Lithuania was forced to allow Soviet troops to reside in the country. A puppet Government led by J. Paleckis was formed and the ostensible elections to “the national Seimas” were organized. On July 21, “the national Seimas” proclaimed Lithuania a Soviet Socialist Republic and on August 3, Lithuania became the 14th member of the Soviet Union. In1939, approximately 40,000 Jews lived in Kovno, constituting nearly one-quarter of the city’s total population. During the Soviet rule, in 1940-41, the Hebrew educational institutions were closed down and most of the Jewish social and cultural organizations were liquidated; of the city’s five Yiddish dailies, only one remained in existence, becoming an organ of the Communist party. On June 14, 1941, hundreds of Jewish families, among them factory owners, merchants, public figures, and Zionist activists and leaders, were rounded up and exiled to Siberia. The newly formed republic was to be short-lived. In June and July 1941, following the German invasion of the Soviet Union, the Germans occupied Lithuania. During the German occupation, Lithuania was incorporated into the Reich Commissariat Ostland (Reichskommissariat Ostland), a German civilian administration covering the Baltic States and western Belorussia. However even before the German occupation of the city on June 24, 1941, bands of Lithuanians went on a rampage against the Jews, especially those living in the Slobodka suburb. The murder of Jews continued when the Germans occupied Kovno and took charge of the killings. Thousands of Jews were moved from the city to other locations, such as the Ninth & Seventh Forts, where they were first brutally mistreated by the Lithuanian guards and then shot to death. It is estimated that 10,000 Jews were murdered in June and July of 1941. The first pogrom was on 25 June 1941. On 7 July 1941, Avraham Tory noted in his Kovno Ghetto Diary: Soviet rule has disappeared. The Jews are left behind as fair game; hunting them is not unprofitable, because the houses and courtyards of many of them brim with riches. When the Nazis later set up the ghetto they also spread Anti-Semitic propaganda which helped inflate the Lithuanian disdain for the Jews. Many Lithuanians saw the Germans as liberators and the propaganda associated the Russian-speaking Jews with the Soviet occupation and made the Jews a symbol of Stalin’s unpopular rule. Additionally, rules were implemented which stifled the Jew’s daily activities. One example was, Order No. 1, signed by Oberführer SS Kramer, the “German commissar of the city of Kauen” declares: The Jewish population is forbidden to walk along city pavements. Jews must walk on the right edge of a pavement one behind the other. The area earmarked consisted of two parts (the small ghetto and the large ghetto), both situated in Slobodka, on either side of the main thoroughfare. A barbed-wire fence, with posts manned by Lithuanian guards, was put up around the ghetto, the gates of which were also watched by German police. When the ghetto was sealed off in August 1941, it contained 29,760 Jews. In the following two and a half months, 3,000 Jews were killed. On October 28, the Gross Aktion was staged, in the course of which 9,000 persons (half of them children) were taken to the Ninth Fort and murdered there. As the Germans required everyone who remained in the ghetto over the age of 16 to work at factories supporting their war effort, the Council decided who was fit for which job. Additionally, the Council helped ration the limited food supplies and organize resistance groups. By the end of August 1941, most Jews in rural Lithuania had been shot. By November 1941, the Germans also massacred most of the Jews who had been concentrated in ghettos in the larger cities. The next year and a half was considered to be a quiet time in the Kovno ghetto. Daily life activity was administered by the Council of Elders of the Kovno Jewish Ghetto Community (Aeltestenrat der Juedischen Ghetto Gemeinde Kauen), chaired by Dr. Elhanan Elkes, Leib Garfunkel, a lawyer and veteran Zionist leader, acted as his deputy. The Aeltestenrat appointed and supervised the Jewish police, which was responsible for the forced labor and the maintenance of public order. Health, welfare, and culture services were provided by the Aeltestenrat in the form of a hospital and medical clinic, a home for the aged, a soup kitchen, a school, and an orchestra. There were concerts, lectures, literary evenings, and other cultural events. After public education was prohibited, it was nonetheless kept up under the cover of the vocational-training schools. Life was still difficult for Jews in the ghetto during this quiet period; German authorities forbid pregnancies and births in the Kovno ghetto, declaring that women who are up to seven months pregnant will be shot if they do not terminate their pregnancies by mid-September 1942. Despite the risks, some women carry to term and hide their babies from the Germans. One survivor provides this description: During intermittent periods between mass killings, Jews in the ghettos were exploited for slave labour and subjected to hunger and disease. In the summer of 1943 the Germans began to liquidate the surviving remnants of the ghettos (Bialystok in August; Minsk, Lida, Vilna in September; Riga in November). Later that year in December, more than 60 Jews escape from the Ninth Fort. The SS had assigned them to exhume and burn the remains of Jews the SS had shot at the fort. The exhumations and burning were part of Aktion 1005, the systematic attempt to eliminate the evidence of mass murder in Eastern Europe. Thirteen of the escapees hide in Kovno and document German efforts to destroy the evidence of mass killings at the Ninth Fort. On July 8, 1944, as the Red Army was approaching Kovno, German forces and their Lithuanian auxiliaries begin the final deportation of Jews from Kovno. Over the next five days, they set fire to the former ghetto area to force Jews out of their hiding places. The Germans used bloodhounds, smoke grenades, and firebombs to force the Jews out into the open; in the process, some 2,000 Jews died, by choking or burning, or as a result of the explosions. Almost 1,500 Jews are killed and hundreds flee to nearby forests. The Germans deport the remaining Jews to the Stutthof and Dachau concentration camps. On August 1, 1944 Soviet forces liberate Kovno. A few Jews who had escaped the final destruction of the ghetto emerge from hidden bunkers in the former ghetto area. Of Kovno’s Jewish survivors, 500 survived in forests or in bunkers; an additional 2,500 survived in concentration camps in Germany. Lurie, Esther (19131998) The daughter of a religious Jewish family with five children, Esther Lurie was born in Liepaja, Latvia, which her family was forced to leave during World War I because the city served as a military port. She developed her artistic talent from the age of fifteen by studying with various teachers. In the years 19311934 she studied set design at the Institute of Decorative Arts (Institut des Arts Décoratifs) in Brussels and drawing at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts (Académie Royal des Beaux-Arts) in Antwerp. In 1934 Lurie immigrated to Palestine with most of her family. She designed sets for the Hebrew Theater in Tel Aviv. When events limited theatrical activity in Palestine, she devoted herself to drawing, especially portraits. In 1938 she won the prestigious Dizengoff Prize for Drawing for her work The Erez Israel Orchestra, which was exhibited in the Tel Aviv Museum. In 1939 Lurie went to Europe to pursue her studies, visiting France and studying at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts (Académie Royal des Beaux-Arts) in Antwerp. In Riga she exhibited her works in an exhibition that took place in the Painters Association House. In 1940 she had an exhibition in Kovno in the Royal Opera House. After the German occupation her works were confiscated, having been defined as Jewish art. World War II broke out while she was in Lithuania and during the German occupation she was imprisoned in the Kovno ghetto (19411944), where she at once began to sketch the scenes of the new reality. The members of the Council of Elders (Ältestenrat), who learned of her talent after seeing one of her paintings, asked her to document everything that was happening in the ghetto. Her works were displayed in an exhibition held in the ghetto. The Germans also showed interest in Luries artistic talent and she painted pictures commissioned by the German commanders. Lurie, who drew everywhere in the ghetto, received special permission from the German commander to draw in the pottery workshop. While she was there she asked the potters to prepare a number of jars for her in which she could conceal her works if the situation worsened. Some of the works were photographed for the ghettos clandestine archives. In July 1944, as the Red Army approached Lithuania, the ghetto was liquidated and those remaining in it were transferred to concentration camps and forced labor camps in Germany. Esther Lurie was deported and her hidden works were left behind. Later it was found that some of her drawings had survived along with the archives of the Council of Elders. Avraham Tory-Golob succeeded in rescuing and bringing to Israel eleven sketches and several watercolors, as well as twenty photographs of her works. She was unable to discover what happened to the rest of her works. Up to the end of July 1944, Lurie, along with the other women from the ghetto, was held in the Stutthof concentration camp, where she was separated from her sister, with whom she had been together through the whole ghetto period. In Stutthof Lurie continued to receive commissions and more than once her art served as barter for food. In August 1944 Lurie was transferred to Leibitz, where she painted portraits of several inmates. Esther Lurie was liberated by the Red Army on January 21, 1945. In March 1945 she reached a camp in Italy, where she met Jewish soldiers from Palestine who were serving in the British army. One of them, the artist Menahem Shemi, organized an exhibition of drawings from the camps and brought about the publication of the booklet Jewesses in Slavery, which contained drawings by Lurie from Stutthof and Leibitz. Lurie reached Palestine in July 1945. In 1946 she was awarded the Dizengoff Prize for her sketch Young Woman with Yellow Star, done in the Kovno ghetto. She married, raised a family and continued to paint and exhibit in group and solo exhibitions in Israel and abroad. During the Eichmann trial, which took place in Jerusalem in 1961, Luries works from the time of World War II served as testimony, thereby gaining official approval by the Supreme Court for the documentary value of her sketches and watercolors. Lurie died in Tel Aviv in 1998. Part of her works from the period of the Holocaust are in the collection of the Ghetto Fighters House Museum, to which they were donated by the artist. Her works of art can also be found in the Yad Vashem collection in Jerusalem and in private collections. Her family were forced to leave during World War I because the city’s importance as a military port. In 1917 they shifted to Riga, where Lurie graduated from Ezra Gymnasium (high school). She already showed artistic talent in kindergarten and began to develop professionally from the age of fifteen, studying with various teachers. In 1934 Lurie migrated to Palestine with most of her family and worked at various artistic activities. She designed sets for the Hebrew Theatre, as well as works for the Adloyada in Tel Aviv, the Bialik exhibition and the Eastern Fair. When events limited theatrical activity in Palestine, she devoted herself to drawing – producing many portraits. Her favorite subjects were dancers and musicians. She also travelled to many kibbutzim, painting the landscapes of Palestine, and her works were exhibited in kibbutzim dining rooms. Her first exhibition took place in Kibbutz Geva in 1937. In 1938 she was accepted as a member of the Painters and Sculptors Association in Palestine. She held solo exhibitions in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and Haifa. In 1938 she won the Dizengoff Prize for Drawing – the most prestigious prize – for a work entitled “The Palestine Orchestra”. This was shown at the general exhibition of Palestine artists in the Tel Aviv Museum. In 1939 she travelled to Europe to further her studies, visiting France and attending the the Académie Royal des Beaux-Arts in Antwerp. That summer she visited relatives in Latvia and Lithuania, exhibiting work at the Painters’ Association Building in Riga and also at Kovno (Kaunas) in Lithuania (both in 1939). The next year she held another exhibition at Kovno’s Royal Opera House on the theme of “The Ballet”. After the Nazi occupation they were confiscated, being defined as “Jewish art”. World War II had begun while she was in Lithuania and during the Nazi occupation (1941-44) she was imprisoned in the Kovno ghetto along with the other Jews. As soon as she entered the ghetto, in mid-1941, Lurie began to sketch views of her new world. She has left behind a detailed written testimony of her life and work during World War II. This combination of literary and visual testimony make up a “living witness” (the name she would later give to one of her books). They enable us to enter deeply into her life as an artist during this period under these difficult conditions. She wrote: Everything that was happening all around was so strange, so different from all the ideas and practices of our lives hitherto. I felt that I must report on this new existence or at least make sketches. I must depict things as I saw them. Admittedly, it was only during periods of relative calm that I could devote myself to any such activity. But in the course of time I began to regard this work of mine as a duty.  Lurie has written about her sources of inspiration and about the extensive cooperation she received from the residents of the ghetto: The place where I first set out to sketch was the “Reserverat”. The former school for handicrafts contained all the families who had been unable to obtain any other quarters. People lived in a big courtyard where they cooked on stones. There I found ample material: heaps and piles of furniture that had been transformed into queer barricades, and now served as residential quarters. Here were children, old folk, all sorts of Jewish types. Life was going on everywhere, in every corner; conversations and quarrels, some folk attending to various things while others just sat doing nothing or studied a book. When I sat down in a corner of the courtyard I was promptly surrounded. My work interested them very much, and each and every one was prepared to help. Somebody would stand sentinel to warn me if the Germans came. The people very much liked the idea that I should make a permanent record of how it was.  Later on, the members of the Ältestenrat (Council of Elders) were shown one of her works. Recognising the value of her work as historical documentation, they asked her to draw everything that was happening in the ghetto. Dr Elkes, President of the Committee, and his fellow members, welcomed this step of mine and asked me to go on collecting and recording material of this kind. Their attitude encouraged me. Henceforward I set out to sketch whatever seemed important to me; but this was not a simple or easy undertaking, for it was dangerous to do any sketching in the streets… Strangers agreed to permit me to paint from the window of their home… The people of the house were friendly and concerned. What should be done to make sure that your pictures will survive? They used to ask.  The help that Lurie received from people – and their concern about how to preserve her art – shows the great importance that was attached to her work. In this period of destruction and annihilation, it seemed very likely that the subjects of the works would not survive, so it was all the more important that these documents and commemorations should last. This was why she was asked: What should we do to preserve your paintings? Despite her sense of responsibility and the cooperation of the ghetto inmates – both the ghetto administration and the other prisoners – Lurie did not have the strength to draw all the time. Her written account sheds light on the connection between the emotional distress of the artist and the creation of art works – a concern expressed by artists in other camps with similar conditions: For a long time I stopped my drawing. These were days of constant fear, of a harsh and coarsening struggle for existence. The German method was: action followed by a brief relaxation until the next action, which again came as a surprise. I was also conscripted for forced labour. Only occasionally, on some free day, did the painter Jacob Lifshitz and I sketch “Ghetto Types”. Then once again I was invited to the Jewish Committee. There I was informed of a resolution to encourage all initiative in the Ghetto that could be connected with the collection of historical material. Secrecy had to be preserved. I was promised every assistance as long as I continued to paint the life of the Ghetto… A temporary release from forced labour was obtained on my behalf. It was not easy. I was placed on the list of “Ghetto workers”, and received leave for two months.  In fact, this “conscripted” artist, for whom such a great effort had been made to enable her to concentrate on depicting ghetto life, drew extensively, covering every detail of the ghetto. She was assisted by both the residents and the local police. I went to sketch as much as was left of the Hospital of the Little Ghetto, which the Germans had destroyed… I sketched at the Communal Kitchen, where a little thin soup was distributed to old people and forsaken children. These people were quite indifferent to all that was going on around them, and paid no attention to me… I wished to make a record of the working people, the masses. Sometimes I was permitted to sit in the Jewish Police station and sketch from a window on the second floor, through which it was possible to see the main gate and the entire surroundings… There I sketched a number of people as they went out to work with big home-made gloves, carrying food containers and with knapsacks on their backs or at their sides. On several occasions I painted the Actions Square where, by the “Little Blocks” was the spot dividing the Jews who were sent “right” from those who were sent “left” on the day of the Big Action.  In addition to the characters and events, Lurie also depicted the landscapes, whose beauty was in direct contradiction to the terrors of life in the ghetto. A subject which I painted many times at all seasons was the road that led from the “Ghetto Valley” to the “Ninth Fort” on the hilltop [view one of these works]. A row of lofty trees at the wayside gave the road a singular character. The highway to the hilltop remains etched deep in my memory as a Via Dolorosa, taken by tens of thousands of Jews from Lithuania and Western Europe on the way to their deaths. There were days when the grey clouds gave this place a peculiarly tragic aspect which accorded with our feelings.  In the Kovno ghetto, as in other camps and ghettos, inmates attempted to preserve a semblance of normal life by sticking to normal routines and by maintaining cultural activities. These included an exhibition of Esther Lurie’s works which Avraham Golub (Tory), the secretary of the Ältestenrat, wrote about in his ghetto diary. In these writings he offers his own views and those of Lurie on the roles of artist and documenter. The artist had to be, he wrote, the “mouth” of the single, lone person, to commemorate also the “small” details, from which the mosaic of experience was composed. He wrote: In the afternoon there was an exhibition of drawings by the artist Esther Lurie for a small group of people. This is an artist versed in international culture, rich in ideas. From the first days of the ghetto she made it her goal to commemorate the visions of the ghetto, by means of drawings and characters meaningful to Jewish history… Every artist in the ghetto must commemorate – in Esther Lurie’s opinion – in accordance with his method and ability, everything that happens in the ghetto. The important occurrences and major events will remain in the memory of the people, but the suffering of the individual will be forgotten. This testament obliges us, first and foremost, to remember and to draw events and facts, people and characters, important pictures and moments. In the spoken word and in writing, in sketching and painting. In every possible artistic method. Esther Lurie responded to this call and she does it wholeheartedly… Every drawing is a piece of the history of endless pain, an expression of emotional and physical martyrdom. The faces of the participants lit up for a minute in the presence of Esther Lurie’s drawings of the ghetto. Additional proof of the non-capitulation of the Jewish spirit under all conditions at all times. Kovno Ghetto, July 25, 1943.  In addition to her “conscripted” work on behalf of the Judenrat (Jewish Council), the Nazis also showed interest in Lurie’s artistic talent. As the ghetto emptied out, after the aktion (roundup) of the children and elderly on 27 March 1944, the SS men now lived among the Jews and interfered with everything, causing constant tension. At that time Lurie was working in the painting and drawing workshops, where the imprisoned artists were employed. They painted pictures to order for the German commanders, but this mostly consisted of large oil paintings based on color reproductions. The Germans also ordered artistic photographs, and for this they constructed a studio and brought in a Jewish photographer from a forced labor camp. Lurie drew everywhere in the ghetto, including the various workshops. Among the workshops she was permitted to visit was the pottery workshop. During her visits there, Lurie got the idea of asking the Jewish potters to prepare a number of jars for her. She would use these to conceal her art works if the situation worsened. The situation did grow worse. After the deportation of 26 October 1943, in which 3,000 ghetto inmates were removed to forced labor camps in Estonia, Lurie hid her art collection – approximately 200 drawings and watercolors of 25 x 35 cm – in the large jars she had prepared in advance. Some of her works were photographed beforehand for ghetto’s hidden archive. In July 1944, as the Red Army approached Lithuania, the ghetto was liquidated and those remaining were transferred to concentration camps and forced labor camps in Germany. The ghetto was set on fire and the buildings were blown up and burnt to prevent those hiding from escaping. Some people were burned to death in their hiding places. Esther Lurie was sent to Germany, leaving her hidden works behind. After the war some of her drawings were recovered, surviving with the Ältestenrat’s archive. Avraham Tory succeeded in rescuing 11 sketches and watercolors and 20 of the photographs of her works. He took these to Israel. Lurie was unable to discover what happened to the remainder of her works. Esther Lurie, along with the other women from the ghetto, was placed in Stutthof concentration camp, where she remained until the end of July 1944. She was separated from her sister, with whom she had lived during the whole ghetto period. Lurie’s sister and young nephew were deported to Auschwitz and did not survive the war. As in the ghetto, Lurie continued to receive requests to draw and commemorate Stutthof inmates. More than once her art served her as barter for food: I managed to get hold of a pencil and some scraps of paper. I started to draw some of the various “types” among the women prisoners. Young girls, who had “friends” among the male inmates and who used to get gifts of food, asked me to draw their portrait.  I also did some drawings of women wearing “pyjamas” [view example] at the Stutthof Concentration Camp. They were drawn in pencil on poor-quality paper which I received from a girl who worked at registering the prisoners. These drawings I hid in my clothes for the five months we spent in the labour camp.  In August 1944 Lurie was moved, along with another 1,200 prisoners, to forced labor camps in Germany. She was sent to Leibitz, where she depicted several of the prisoners (view example). She has written about this time: The following are the circumstances which made it possible for me to produce these drawings. Each of us was required to wear attached to the left sleeve her prisoner’s number and the Shield of David printed on a strip of linen, which we received when our clothes were handed out to us at the Stutthof concentration camp. In the course of the time the linen was torn or numbers became blurred and had to be restored. This became my duty. When a certain quantity of number strips had been collected, I was excused from field work in order to attend to them. During our last month in the camp, when hundreds of women demanded the renewal of their numbers, I was attached to the “Innendienst” (Internal Service) of the camp and became “Nummerschreiberin” (Number Writer). I was permitted to stay in the sickroom. I was given ink and wrote with slivers of wood. Here at last I saw an opportunity to draw and sketch some of our women. To give me something to draw on, our doctor collected the white paper off the cottonwool. Once one of the guards saw me drawing and asked me to do a sketch of him. I did so and in return he brought me paper, pens and China ink. Naturally I had to be careful not to be seen or caught sketching by the Nazi guards. I could not spend much time at it. I succeeded in completing only a small number of sketches much as I longed to record on paper all that I saw. Yet the presence of the camp commandant, Oberscharführer OLK, nicknamed “Schnabel” (Beak), filled the soul with dread and fear… The hope of remaining alive was so faint. Still less could I hope that the drawings would be left in my possession, even if I were to succeed in evading death. Day by day we expected to be sent back from there to the concentration camp, where everything could be taken away from us. This I knew by experience. These sketches [done in the labour camp] were drawn after OLK had been replaced and a more human commandant came to our camp.  Lurie was liberated by the Red Army on 21 January 1945. One of them, the artist Menahem Shemi, organized an exhibition of drawings from the camps, which resulted in the publication of a booklet “Jewesses in Slavery”. This contained drawings by Lurie from Stutthof and Leibitz and was published by the Jewish Soldiers’ Club of Rome in 1945. Lurie also created stage sets for the military song and dance group in the camp, which was founded by Eliahu Goldberg and Mordechai Zeira. Lurie reached Israel (Palestine) in July 1945 and was received with great excitement. Her stories were published in the press and her drawings were exhibited in exhibitions. In 1946 she was again awarded the Dizengoff Prize for a sketch Girl with Yellow Badge, which she had made in the Kovno ghetto. Lurie married and raised a family. She continued to create and exhibit in group and solo exhibitions in Israel and elsewhere. Although she lived in Tel Aviv throughout her life in Israel, Jerusalem became her focus after the Six Day War and its landscapes are found in many of her works. During the Eichmann trial, which took place in Jerusalem in 1961, Lurie’s Second World War works were exhibited as part of the testimony – giving an “official authorization” from Israel’s Supreme Court to the rich documentary value of her sketches and watercolors. This is in addition to their aesthetic value as objects of art. Esther Lurie passed away in Tel Aviv in 1998. Lurie donated her works from the Holocaust period to the collection of Beit Lohamei Haghetaot (Ghetto Fighters’ House Museum). Her works can also be found at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem, and in a number of private collections The Holocaust (also called Shoah in Hebrew) refers to the period from January 30, 1933, when Adolf Hitler became chancellor of Germany, to May 8, 1945 (VE Day), when the war in Europe ended. During this time, Jews in Europe were subjected to progressively harsh persecution that ultimately led to the murder of 6,000,000 Jews (1.5 million of these being children) and the destruction of 5,000 Jewish communities. These deaths represented two-thirds of European Jewry and one-third of world Jewry. The Jews who died were not casualties of the fighting that ravaged Europe during World War II. Rather, they were the victims of Germany’s deliberate and systematic attempt to annihilate the entire Jewish population of Europe, a plan Hitler called the Final Solution (Endlosung). After its defeat in World War I, Germany was humiliated by the Versailles Treaty, which reduced its prewar territory, drastically reduced its armed forces, demanded the recognition of its guilt for the war, and stipulated it pay reparations to the allied powers. The German Empire destroyed, a new parliamentary government called the Weimar Republic was formed. The republic suffered from economic instability, which grew worse during the worldwide depression after the New York stock market crash in 1929. Massive inflation followed by very high unemployment heightened existing class and political differences and began to undermine the government. On January 30, 1933, Adolf Hitler, leader of the National Socialist German Workers (Nazi) Party, was named chancellor by president Paul von Hindenburg after the Nazi party won a significant percentage of the vote in the elections of 1932. The Nazi Party had taken advantage of the political unrest in Germany to gain an electoral foothold. The Nazis incited clashes with the communists, who many feared, disrupted the government with demonstrations, and conducted a vicious propaganda campaign against its political opponents-the weak Weimar government, and the Jews, whom the Nazis blamed for Germany’s ills. Propaganda: The Jews Are Our Misfortune A major tool of the Nazis’ propaganda assault was the weekly Nazi newspaper Der Stürmer (The Attacker). At the bottom of the front page of each issue, in bold letters, the paper proclaimed, The Jews are our misfortune! Der Stürmer also regularly featured cartoons of Jews in which they were caricatured as hooked-nosed and apelike. The influence of the newspaper was far-reaching: by 1938 about a half million copies were distributed weekly. Soon after he became chancellor, Hitler called for new elections in an effort to get full control of the Reichstag, the German parliament, for the Nazis. The Nazis used the government apparatus to terrorize the other parties. They arrested their leaders and banned their political meetings. Then, in the midst of the election campaign, on February 27, 1933, the Reichstag building burned. A Dutchman named Marinus van der Lubbe was arrested for the crime, and he swore he had acted alone. Although many suspected the Nazis were ultimately responsible for the act, the Nazis managed to blame the Communists, thus turning more votes their way. The fire signaled the demise of German democracy. On the next day, the government, under the pretense of controlling the Communists, abolished individual rights and protections: freedom of the press, assembly, and expression were nullified, as well as the right to privacy. When the elections were held on March 5, the Nazis received nearly 44 percent of the vote, and with 8 percent offered by the Conservatives, won a majority in the government. The Nazis moved swiftly to consolidate their power into a dictatorship. On March 23, the Enabling Act was passed. It sanctioned Hitlers dictatorial efforts and legally enabled him to pursue them further. The Nazis marshaled their formidable propaganda machine to silence their critics. They also developed a sophisticated police and military force. Storm Troopers, a grassroots organization, helped Hitler undermine the German democracy. The Gestapo (Geheime Staatspolizei, Secret State Police), a force recruited from professional police officers, was given complete freedom to arrest anyone after February 28. The Schutzstaffel (SS, Protection Squad) served as Hitlers personal bodyguard and eventually controlled the concentration camps and the Gestapo. The Sicherheitsdienst des ReichsführersSS S. Security Service of the SS functioned as the Nazis’ intelligence service, uncovering enemies and keeping them under surveillance. With this police infrastructure in place, opponents of the Nazis were terrorized, beaten, or sent to one of the concentration camps the Germans built to incarcerate them. Dachau, just outside of Munich, was the first such camp built for political prisoners. Dachau’s purpose changed over time and eventually became another brutal concentration camp for Jews. By the end of 1934 Hitler was in absolute control of Germany, and his campaign against the Jews in full swing. The Nazis claimed the Jews corrupted pure German culture with their “foreign” and “mongrel” influence. They portrayed the Jews as evil and cowardly, and Germans as hardworking, courageous, and honest. The Jews, the Nazis claimed, who were heavily represented in finance, commerce, the press, literature, theater, and the arts, had weakened Germany’s economy and culture. The massive government-supported propaganda machine created a racial anti-Semitism, which was different from the longstanding anti-Semitic tradition of the Christian churches. The superior race was the “Aryans, ” the Germans. The word Aryan, derived from the study of linguistics, which started in the eighteenth century and at some point determined that the Indo-Germanic (also known as Aryan) languages were superior in their structures, variety, and vocabulary to the Semitic languages that had evolved in the Near East. This judgment led to a certain conjecture about the character of the peoples who spoke these languages; the conclusion was that the’Aryan’ peoples were likewise superior to the’Semitic’ ones Leni Yahil, The Holocaust: The Fate of European Jewry, New York: Oxford University Press, 1990, p. The Jews Are Isolated from Society The Nazis then combined their racial theories with the evolutionary theories of Charles Darwin to justify their treatment of the Jews. The Germans, as the strongest and fittest, were destined to rule, while the weak and racially adulterated Jews were doomed to extinction. Hitler began to restrict the Jews with legislation and terror, which entailed burning books written by Jews, removing Jews from their professions and public schools, confiscating their businesses and property and excluding them from public events. The most infamous of the anti-Jewish legislation were the Nuremberg Laws, enacted on September 15, 1935. They formed the legal basis for the Jews’ exclusion from German society and the progressively restrictive Jewish policies of the Germans. Many Jews attempted to flee Germany, and thousands succeeded by immigrating to such countries as Belgium, Czechoslovakia, England, France and Holland. It was much more difficult to get out of Europe. Jews encountered stiff immigration quotas in most of the world’s countries. Even if they obtained the necessary documents, they often had to wait months or years before leaving. Many families out of desperation sent their children first. In July 1938, representatives of 32 countries met in the French town of Evian to discuss the refugee and immigration problems created by the Nazis in Germany. Nothing substantial was done or decided at the Evian Conference, and it became apparent to Hitler that no one wanted the Jews and that he would not meet resistance in instituting his Jewish policies. By the autumn of 1941, Europe was in effect sealed to most legal emigration. The Jews were trapped. On November 910, 1938, the attacks on the Jews became violent. Hershel Grynszpan, a 17yearold Jewish boy distraught at the deportation of his family, shot Ernst vom Rath, the third secretary in the German Embassy in Paris, who died on November 9. Nazi hooligans used this assassination as the pretext for instigating a night of destruction that is now known as Kristallnacht (the night of broken glass). They looted and destroyed Jewish homes and businesses and burned synagogues. Many Jews were beaten and killed; 30,000 Jews were arrested and sent to concentration camps. The Jews Are Confined to Ghettos Germany invaded Poland in September 1939, beginning World War II. Soon after, in 1940, the Nazis began establishing ghettos for the Jews of Poland. More than 10 percent of the Polish population was Jewish, numbering about three million. Jews were forcibly deported from their homes to live in crowded ghettos, isolated from the rest of society. This concentration of the Jewish population later aided the Nazis in their deportation of the Jews to the death camps. The ghettos lacked the necessary food, water, space, and sanitary facilities required by so many people living within their constricted boundaries. Many died of deprivation and starvation. The Final Solution In June 1941 Germany attacked the Soviet Union and began the Final Solution. Four mobile killing groups were formed called Einsatzgruppen A, B, C and D. Each group contained several commando units. The Einsatzgruppen gathered Jews town by town, marched them to huge pits dug earlier, stripped them, lined them up, and shot them with automatic weapons. The dead and dying would fall into the pits to be buried in mass graves. In the infamous Babi Yar massacre, near Kiev, 30,000-35,000 Jews were killed in two days. In addition to their operations in the Soviet Union, the Einsatzgruppen conducted mass murder in eastern Poland, Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia. It is estimated that by the end of 1942, the Einsatzgruppen had murdered more than 1.3 million Jews. On January 20, 1942, several top officials of the German government met to officially coordinate the military and civilian administrative branches of the Nazi system to organize a system of mass murder of the Jews. This meeting, called the Wannsee Conference, “marked the beginning of the full-scale, comprehensive extermination operation [of the Jews] and laid the foundations for its organization, which started immediately after the conference ended” Yahil, The Holocaust, p. While the Nazis murdered other national and ethnic groups, such as a number of Soviet prisoners of war, Polish intellectuals, and gypsies, only the Jews were marked for systematic and total annihilation. Jews were singled out for “Special Treatment” (Sonderbehandlung), which meant that Jewish men, women and children were to be methodically killed with poisonous gas. In the exacting records kept at the Auschwitz death camp, the cause of death of Jews who had been gassed was indicated by “SB, ” the first letters of the two words that form the German term for Special Treatment. By the spring of 1942, the Nazis had established six killing centers (death camps) in Poland: Chelmno (Kulmhof), Belzec, Sobibor, Treblinka, Maidanek and Auschwitz. All were located near railway lines so that Jews could be easily transported daily. A vast system of camps (called Lagersystem) supported the death camps. The purpose of these camps varied: some were slave labor camps, some transit camps, others concentration camps and their subcamps, and still others the notorious death camps. Some camps combined all of these functions or a few of them. All the camps were intolerably brutal. The major concentration camps were Ravensbruck, Neuengamme, Bergen-Belsen, Sachsenhausen, Gross-Rosen, Buchenwald, Theresienstadt, Flossenburg, Natzweiler-Struthof, Dachau, Mauthausen, Stutthof, and Dora/Nordhausen. In nearly every country overrun by the Nazis, the Jews were forced to wear badges marking them as Jews, they were rounded up into ghettos or concentration camps and then gradually transported to the killing centers. The death camps were essentially factories for murdering Jews. Within a few hours of their arrival, the Jews had been stripped of their possessions and valuables, gassed to death, and their bodies burned in specially designed crematoriums. Approximately 3.5 million Jews were murdered in these death camps. Many healthy, young strong Jews were not killed immediately. The Germans’ war effort and the Final Solution required a great deal of manpower, so the Germans reserved large pools of Jews for slave labor. These people, imprisoned in concentration and labor camps, were forced to work in German munitions and other factories, such as I. Farben and Krupps, and wherever the Nazis needed laborers. They were worked from dawn until dark without adequate food and shelter. Thousands perished, literally worked to death by the Germans and their collaborators. In the last months of Hitlers Reich, as the German armies retreated, the Nazis began marching the prisoners still alive in the concentration camps to the territory they still controlled. The Germans forced the starving and sick Jews to walk hundreds of miles. Most died or were shot along the way. About a quarter of a million Jews died on the death marches. Jewish Resistance The Germans’ overwhelming repression and the presence of many collaborators in the various local populations severely limited the ability of the Jews to resist. Jewish resistance did occur, however, in several forms. Staying alive, clean, and observing Jewish religious traditions constituted resistance under the dehumanizing conditions imposed by the Nazis. Other forms of resistance involved escape attempts from the ghettos and camps. Many who succeeded in escaping the ghettos lived in the forests and mountains in family camps and in fighting partisan units. Once free, though, the Jews had to contend with local residents and partisan groups who were often openly hostile. Jews also staged armed revolts in the ghettos of Vilna, Bialystok, Bedzin-Sosnowiec, Cracow, and Warsaw. The Warsaw Ghetto Uprising was the largest ghetto revolt. Massive deportations (or Aktions) had been held in the ghetto from July to September 1942, emptying the ghetto of the majority of Jews imprisoned there. When the Germans entered the ghetto again in January 1943 to remove several thousand more, small unorganized groups of Jews attacked them. After four days, the Germans withdrew from the ghetto, having deported far fewer people than they had intended. The Nazis reentered the ghetto on April 19, 1943, the eve of Passover, to evacuate the remaining Jews and close the ghetto. The Jews, using homemade bombs and stolen or bartered weapons, resisted and withstood the Germans for 27 days. They fought from bunkers and sewers and evaded capture until the Germans burned the ghetto building by building. By May 16 the ghetto was in ruins and the uprising crushed. Jews also revolted in the death camps of Sobibor, Treblinka and Auschwitz. All of these acts of resistance were largely unsuccessful in the face of the superior German forces, but they were very important spiritually, giving the Jews hope that one day the Nazis would be defeated. Liberation and the End of War The camps were liberated gradually, as the Allies advanced on the German army. For example, Maidanek (near Lublin, Poland) was liberated by Soviet forces in July 1944, Auschwitz in January 1945 by the Soviets, Bergen-Belsen (near Hanover, Germany) by the British in April 1945, and Dachau by the Americans in April 1945. At the end of the war, between 50,000 and 100,000 Jewish survivors were living in three zones of occupation: American, British and Soviet. Within a year, that figure grew to about 200,000. The American zone of occupation contained more than 90 percent of the Jewish displaced persons (DPs). The Jewish DPs would not and could not return to their homes, which brought back such horrible memories and still held the threat of danger from anti-Semitic neighbors. Thus, they languished in DP camps until emigration could be arranged to Palestine, and later Israel, the United States, South America and other countries. The last DP camp closed in 1957 David S. Wyman, “The United States, ” in David S. The World Reacts to the Holocaust, Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1996, pp. Below are figures for the number of Jews murdered in each country that came under German domination. They are estimates, as are all figures relating to Holocaust victims. The numbers given here for Czechoslovakia, Hungary and Romania are based on their territorial borders before the 1938 Munich agreement. The total number of six million Jews murdered during the Holocaust, which emerged from the Nuremberg trials, is also an estimate. Numbers have ranged between five and seven million killed. One of them, the artist Menahem Shemi, organized an exhibition of drawings from the camps, which resulted in the publication of a booklet Jewesses in Slavery. Her works can also be found at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem, and in a number of private collections.. The item “Holocaust JEWISH ART BOOK Yizkor KOVNO GHETTO Judaica LITHUANIA Israel HEBREW” is in sale since Thursday, January 14, 2021. This item is in the category “Collectibles\Religion & Spirituality\Judaism\Books”. The seller is “judaica-bookstore” and is located in TEL AVIV. This item can be shipped worldwide.
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