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20120123 Last Portrait: Painting for Posterity Opens at Yad Vashem – Jerusalem
Ms. Nira Gold finds it difficult to hide her excitement as she points to portraits of her grandparents of which she was notified by telephone just a few days ago. Artist Arnold Dagahni portrayed Gold’s grandmother, Dvora Milka Semmel, and grandfather, Baruch Semmel. Grandfather Semmel survived the Holocaust but Dvora Milka Semmel did not. For decades the family searched for testimony relating to her destiny with no success, until the surprise telephone call from Yad Vashem staff inviting Gold and family to the official exhibition opening. Dvora Milka Semmel was deported with her family to the Czernowitz Ghetto in 1940. In August 1942 she was deported to the Mikhailowka Labor Camp where she was executed in April 1943. Her portrait was painted by Arnold Dagahni in Mikhailowka in 1943 - most probably her “Last Portrait” and perhaps one of the last people to see her alive.
Mr. Horst Cytrin describes his grandfather’s liberation from Ebensee, Austria, in 1945 and his journeys ending in New Jersey in 1949, carrying with him the portraits he painted in the Holocaust. Artist Felix Feiwel Cytrin, born in Warsaw in 1894, immigrated to Germany and lived in Leipzig, where he became a successful painter, specializing in portraiture. His works were exhibited in leading galleries in Germany. In the winter of 1942 Cytrin was transported to Sachsenhausen concentration camp and assigned to Operation Bernahrd – a scam of the Nazi regime to counterfeit British currency in an attempt to cause the collapse of the Allies’ economies. As an expert engraver Cytrin became a key figure in the group of counterfeiters and was appointed head of the engraving department. He used the art supplies he was given for counterfeiting to draw portraits of his fellow prisoners. Cytrin continuously tried to defy the Nazis by implanting tiny inaccuracies in his currency engravings, small enough not to be notices by the Nazis, as depicted in The Counterfeiters, a 2007 Austrian-German film written and directed by Stefan Ruzowitzky.
In the presence of diplomatic corps and Holocaust survivors speakers at the opening ceremony were Yad Vashem Chairman Mr. Avner Shalev, Chief Curator Ms. Yehudit Shendar, Exhibition Curator Ms. Eliad Moreh Rosenberg, and due to the fact that seven of the artists on display painted in Theresienstadt Death Camp, guest of honor, Mr. Tomas Pojar, Czech Republic Ambassador to Israel.
Arnold DagahniBaruch SemmelCreativeCreativityDvora Milka SemmelEliad Moreh RosenbergHolocaust Memorial DayInt'l Holocaust Memorial DayInt'l Holocaust Rememberance DayInternational Holocaust Remembrance DayIsraelJerusalemJewJewishJewsLast PortraitMiddle EastMiddleEastNira GoldPainting For PosterityYad Vashenartartistartistsdeathdeath campsexhibitionghettoholocaust museumlifenazinazispaintingpaintingsportraitportraitsportratureposterityvisual arts201201232182LastPortrait