June 8, 2009

Snow White And The Seven Murdered Jews Of Drohobycz


Bruno Schulz was a Polish Jewish writer and artist who lived in the city of Drohobycz, now part of Ukraine. After the Nazis took over and began killing Jews, Schulz was kept alive for a year by a Gestapo officer named Felix Landau--so that he could paint murals on the walls of Landau's kids' nursery.

Schulz turned the fairy tale characters he painted into portraits of himself and other members of Drohobycz' Jewish community. He was killed by another Nazi officer before he could escape.

The paintings, long thought lost, were rediscovered in 2001. In a process that the Ukrainian government didn't like when it finally found out about it, Schulz's paintings were cut off the walls and made it to Israel, where they went on display at Yad Vashem earlier this year.

An article on Schulz from this week's New Yorker: Age of Genius [newyorker.com via dinosaurs & robots]
Feb 09: Behind Fairy Tale Drawings, Walls Talk of Unspeakable Cruelty [nyt]


Thank god they were taken to Yad Vashem.....if I were a nursery mural force-painted by a Ukrainian Jew, I'd certainly want to be anywhere but the Ukraine.

It is unfair to blame the Ukraine because Yad Vashem hacked the murals off the wall, literally and hurriedly, to ship them to Israel before the central authorities were properly informed. The material belonged to the last surviving heir of Bruno Schulz, Marek Podstolski-Schulz. Bruno Schulz was Polish then, not Ukrainian and not Zionist. The art was made while Poland was under force of occupation. For fuller story see : Muse & Messiah, The Life, Imagination and Legacy of Bruno Schulz 1892-1942 from Inkermen Press UK.

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