Felix Nussbaum’s Artistic Depictions of the Holocaust as It Unfolded

Born in 1904 into a well-to-do German Jewish family, Felix Nussbaum began his professional art career in the 1920s and occasionally painted Jewish themes. When Hitler came to power in 1933, Nussbaum was attending the Berlin Academy of the Arts in Rome, which soon expelled him. He spent the remainder of the decade wandering around Europe, unable to return to his native country. Ro Oranim writes:

The Nazi regime [had] an immediate impact on Nussbaum’s art as he began painting what he saw as the fall of civilization. His painting Destruction reflects his feeling of impending doom, showing a couple standing among the architectural ruins and destroyed artworks. . . .

In 1940, German troops marched on Belgium. Nussbaum, [who was living in Brussels at the time], was arrested, along with 7,000 others, and sent . . . to the internment camp at St. Cyprian. He managed to escape and returned to Brussels where he went into hiding with the help of a friend, an art dealer. Nussbaum . . . drew the horrors of life in the internment camp. His painting Self-portrait in the Camp reflects the inhumane and humiliating conditions he experienced while in St. Cyprian.

Throughout his time in hiding, while living in constant fear for his life, he continued to express himself through his art, persistently chronicling the ever-worsening conditions and his perpetual dread that his hiding spot would be discovered by the authorities. . . . He painted his people, the poor and damned. . . . His final major work, The Skeletons Playing for the Dance, reflected the hopelessness of the situation from his perspective. Skeletons play musical instruments from the ruins of modern society—a cultured society of science, technology, art, and music. Among the skeletons, behind the organ, sits one figure who, while gaunt and malnourished, appears to be alive, suggesting that Nussbaum held out some hope that he would count himself among the survivors—a hope that would never be realized.

The Nazis located Nussbaum in 1944 and put him on the very last transport to Auschwitz, where he died soon after his arrival.

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More about: Arts & Culture, Holocaust, Jewish art

 

European Aid to the Middle East Is Shaped by a Political Agenda

Feb. 18 2019

The EU’s European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations Unit dispenses millions of dollars in economic and humanitarian assistance to dozens of countries every year. Although it claims to operate on principles of strict neutrality, independent of any political motivation and giving priority to the neediest cases, a look at its activities in the Middle East suggests an entirely different approach, as Hillel Frisch writes:

[T]he Middle East is the overwhelming beneficiary of EU humanitarian aid—nearly 1 billion of just over 1.4 billion euros. . . . The bulk of the funds goes toward meeting the costs of assistance to Syrian refugees, followed by smaller sums to Iraq, Yemen, “Palestine,” and North Africa. Sub-Saharan Africa, by contrast, receives less than one-third of that amount. The problem with such allocations is that the overwhelming majority of people living in dire poverty reside in sub-Saharan Africa, India, and Bangladesh. . . . The Palestinians, who are richer on average than those living in the poorest states of the world, . . . receive over six euros per capita, while the populations of the poorest states receive less than one-eighth of that amount. . . .

Even less defensible is the EU’s claim to political neutrality. Its favoritism toward the Palestinians on this score is visible as soon as one enters terms into the general search function on the European Commission’s website. Enter “Palestine” and you get 20,737 results. Enter “Ethiopia” and you get almost the same figure, despite massive differences in population size (Ethiopia’s 100 million versus fewer than 5 million Palestinians), geographic expanse (Ethiopia is 50 times the size of “Palestine”), and degree of sheer suffering. The Syrian crisis, which is said to have led to the loss of a half-million lives, merits not many more site results than “Palestine.”

One of the foci of the website’s reports [on the Palestinians] is the plight of 35,000 Bedouin whom the EU assists, often in clear violation of the law, in Area C—the part of the West Bank under exclusive Israeli control. The hundreds of thousands of Bedouin in Sinai, however, the plight of whom is readily acknowledged even by Egyptian officials, gets no mention, even though Egypt is a recipient of EU aid. . . .

Clearly, the EU’s approach to aid allocation has nothing to do with impartiality, true social-welfare needs, or humanitarian considerations. [Instead], it favors allocations to Syrian refugees above Yemeni refugees because of the higher probability that Syrian refugees will find their way to Europe. . . . The recipients of European largesse who are next in line [to Syrians], in relative terms, are the Palestinians. [This particular policy] can be attributed primarily to the EU’s hostility toward Israel, its rightful historical claims, and its security needs.

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More about: Europe and Israel, European Union, Israel & Zionism, Palestinians