David Friedmann

“Regarding my mother, she made a likable impression and people who knew her had told me that she was called a beauty in her younger years. With all the people in our circle of acquaintances, she was always friendly and smiling. Everybody also liked her because of her readiness to help.” -- David Friedmann, “Das Krafft Quartett”, 8 May 1973 (Testimony), Yad Vashem Collection


This portrait, created by artist David Friedmann of his mother Sophie Rosenblum Friedmann, is a poignant testimony to the bond between mother and son. Discover their story below:


David Friedmann was born 1893 in Mährisch-Ostrau, Czechoslovakia. In 1911, he moved to Berlin and established an impressive reputation as an artist and portraitist in the city. Following the November Pogrom (Kristallnacht), Friedmann fled to Prague with his wife Mathilde and infant daughter Mirjam Helene. In this new city, he relied on his prodigious talents to support his family and soon found work drawing and painting portraits of prominent members of the city’s Jewish community.


Perhaps one of the most touching of Friedmann’s artworks produced during this period is this 1939 portrait of his mother, Sophie Rosenblum Friedmann. The love and regard the artist held for her shines through in his sensitive rendering of her kind and tranquil face.


Sophie Friedmann was by slated by the Germans to be incarcerated in the Terezin ghetto, but in December 1941, the 85-year-old mother and grandmother starved to death in the Jewish Home for the Aged in Ostrava.


David, Mathilde, and Mirjam did not escape deportation. #OnThisDay 16 October 1941, the family was on the first transport of 1,000 Jews from Prague to the Lodz ghetto. Amidst the starvation and degradation of their daily existence in the ghetto, Friedmann continued to draw and sketch portraits of the ghetto leaders in an effort to support his family. When the Germans liquidated the Lodz ghetto in 1944, Friedmann was deported to Auschwitz, never to see Mathilde and six-year-old Mirjam again. He was the only member of his family to survive.


In 1948, David Friedmann married fellow survivor Hildegard Taussig, and the couple eventually immigrated to the United States with their young daughter Miriam (named after Mirjam Helene). Friedmann continued to enrich the world with his art until his death in 1980.


Yad Vashem has Friedmann’s works in its Art Collection and on permanent display in the Holocaust History Museum. You can view several portraits that he created during his years in Prague on our online exhibition “Last Portrait- Painting for Posterity”


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Established in 1953 by an act of the Knesset (Israeli Parliament), Yad Vashem, the World Holocaust Remembrance Center, is entrusted with the task of commemorating, documenting, researching and educating about the Holocaust: remembering the six million Jews murdered by the German Nazis and their collaborators, the destroyed Jewish communities, and the ghetto and resistance fighters; and honoring the Righteous Among the Nations who risked their lives to rescue Jews during the Holocaust. Yad Vashem encompasses 45 acres on the Mount of Remembrance in Jerusalem and is comprised of various museums, research and education centers, monuments and memorials. Among these are the Museum Complex, the Hall of Remembrance, the Valley of the Communities and the Children’s Memorial.