Dr. Mirjam Rajner iz Jerusalima pocinje uskoro istrazivacki projekat pod nazivom:

Jewish Artists in the former Yugoslavia during the Era of the Holocaust and its Aftermath

projekat je finansiran od strane Yad Vashema - i mi vas pozivamo da nam javite ako imate informacije o umetnicima koje mogu da doprinesu projektu   <e-mailom>

Nearly four-fifths of the Yugoslav Jewish community perished in World War II; among the victims were many artists. While some were killed in the camps, others lost their lives while fighting with the partisans. Both groups managed to leave behind valuable works, which speak about these artists' past lives, and comment about their tragic experiences during the Holocaust itself. Some who survived dedicated most of their later art to the theme of the Holocaust. As an art historian, specializing in modern Jewish art, and a former Yugoslav Jew myself, I would like to embark upon a program of research that would explore their artistic contribution and thus add this missing link to the history of modern Jewish and Holocaust art in Europe. Until now my research of the modern Jewish art in Europe was mainly of an inter-disciplinary character, examining the influences of history, politics and culture upon visual expressions of Jewish identity. I believe that the same approach would lead to a better understanding of Jewish cultural history and art during the era of the Holocaust and its aftermath in this complex part of the world.

The history and culture of the Jewish communities in the former Yugoslavia has not been intensively researched, still less the modern art created by Jews there. Yugoslav Jewry was made up of communities that until World War I had lived in two separate empires - the Habsburg and the Ottoman. The Jews themselves were also divided into two entirely different worlds - the Ashkenazi and the Sephardic. By the end of the 19th century there appeared the first Jewish artists who stemmed from these two worlds: for example, from the Ashkenazi community of Zagreb, Artur Oskar Aleksander (1876-1953) and Oskar Herman (1886-19740); from the Sephardic communities of Sarajevo and Belgrade, Daniel Kabiljo (1894-1944) and Leon Koen (1859-1935). After studies at the Art Academies and schools of Vienna, Munich, Paris and London, they returned home to participate in local art movements, devoting some of their work to Jewish subjects. These works, especially in the case of the little-known Sephardic artists, shed light on the traditional world they came from, as well as on their personal search for an identity torn between their own Jewish-ness, their non-Jewish milieu, and the West, which they had encountered during their studies.

After the foundation of the Yugoslav state in 1918, the Jews, finding themselves united in one geopolitical entity, tried - like their non-Jewish neighbors, the Eastern Orthodox, Roman Catholics and Muslims - to define themselves as a single community. Between the two World Wars, Jewish artists like Ivo Rein (1905-1943), Daniel Ozmo (1912-1942) and Bora Baruh (1911-1942), who had studied in local art centers or in Paris, participated in contemporary European art movements, often expressing in their works their leftist political affiliations, especially with the rise of anti-Semitism and Fascism.

During World War II the artists who had been active in Zagreb [e.g: Slavko Bril (1900-1943), Herman, Alfred Pal (b. 1920), Rein, Stella Skopal (1904-1992) and Alfred Weiler (1895-1969)], Belgrade [e.g. Baruh, and Moša Pijade (1890-1957)], and Sarajevo [e.g. Kabiljo, Ozmo and Salamon Papo (1901-?)], created a body of art which depicts and interprets their Holocaust experience: from life among the partisans, to scenes taking place in the refugee camps in Italy and the POW camp in Osnabrück, to the death camps of Jasenovac and Auschwitz. Among those who survived, some [e.g.: Pal, Nandor Glid (1924-1997)] explored the theme of the Holocaust throughout their entire artistic career.

During Tito's era, while the remnants of the Jewish community coped with an identity crisis, split between loyalty to the new, Socialist Yugoslavia and to Zionism, the works of Jewish artists referring to World War II were occasionally exhibited. They were shown either in single shows displaying the entire artistic opus of individual artists while mainly stressing their anti-Fascist background, or in group shows which celebrated the fight against Fascism and the establishment of the new, Socialist Yugoslavia.

More recently, as the rise in nationalism led to the war of the 1990s, the collapse of Yugoslavia and the formation of separate state republics, the Jews have once again been called upon to examine their identity. While many left the country due to the war and the ensuing economic crisis, those who stayed re-discovered Judaism, prompted by the destruction of old values during the war itself, the reappearance of anti-Semitism, and by their non-Jewish neighbors' return to national and religious roots. The post-civil war atmosphere seems to have sparked a need to re-examine Jewish participation in art movements in general, and their contribution to the art of the Holocaust in particular. Thus, two exhibitions accompanied by catalogues examine the work of artists as a product of their Jewish-ness: while the first one searches for a uniting element among various Jewish artists in Croatia active in different periods, the other one singles them out as a group during the Holocaust era. Although modest and shown only for two weeks at the Jewish community gallery, the latter exhibition offers a base for the research project which I would like to propose: the re-examination of works created by artists whose Holocaust experience was primarily marked by the fact of their Jewish origin.

1 Some general works are: Zvi Loker, ed., Toldot Yehudei Yugoslavia, 2 vols., Jerusalem-Tel Aviv-Haifa, 1971/1991; Harriet Pass Freidenreich, The Jews of Yugoslavia, Philadelphia, 1979; Zvi Loker, ed., Pinkas HaKehilot Yugoslavia, Jerusalem, 1988; Židovi na tlu Jugoslavije, exh. cat., Muzejski prostor, Zagreb, April 14 - June 12, 1988; Paul Benjamin Gordiejew, Voices of Yugoslav Jewry, Albany, 1999; Ivo Goldstein, Holokaust u Zagrebu, Zagreb, 2001; Ženi Lebl, Do "konačnog rešenja", Beograd, 2001-02.

2 See Daniel Ozmo, exh. cat., Muzej revolucije Bosne i Hercegovine, Sarajevo 1970; Bora Baruh, exh. cat., Mala galerija spomen-muzeja, II zasedanja AVNOJ-a, Jajce 1964; Moša Pijade, 1890-1957, Galerija 73, Narodni muzej, Belgrade 1974.

3 See Ustanak u Srbiji 1941. u delima umetnika, exh. cat., Istorijski muzej Srbije, Beograd 1973; Jugoslovenska umetnost u Narodno-oslobodilackom ratu, 1941/1945, exh. cat., Muzej savremene umetnosti, Beograd 1975; Umetnost u Revoluciji, 1941-1945, Muzej savremene umetnosti, Beograd 1978.

4 Tonko Marojevic, San i krik, likovna umjetnost Židova u Hrvatskoj, exh. cat. Galerija Klovićevi dvori, Zagreb, May 25 - July 15, 2000.

5 Dolores Ivanuša, Dimenzije jednog vremena, Židovi -likovni umjetnici u antifašističkoj borbi i žrtve holokausta, exh. cat., Galerija židovske općine Zagreb, May 12 - 26, 1996.