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.

Read more at The Librarians

More about: Arts & Culture, Holocaust, Jewish art


Israel Is Courting Saudi Arabia by Confronting Iran

Most likely, it was the Israeli Air Force that attacked eastern Syria Monday night, apparently destroying a convoy carrying Iranian weapons. Yoav Limor comments:

Israel reportedly carried out 32 attacks in Syria in 2022, and since early 2023 it has already struck 25 times in the country—at the very least. . . . The Iranian-Israeli clash stands out in the wake of the dramatic events in the region, chiefly among them is the effort to strike a normalization deal between Israel and Saudi Arabia, and later on with various other Muslim-Sunni states. Iran is trying to torpedo this process and has even publicly warned Saudi Arabia not to “gamble on a losing horse” because Israel’s demise is near. Riyadh is unlikely to heed that demand, for its own reasons.

Despite the thaw in relations between the kingdom and the Islamic Republic—including the exchange of ambassadors—the Saudis remain very suspicious of the Iranians. A strategic manifestation of that is that Riyadh is trying to forge a defense pact with the U.S.; a tactical manifestation took place this week when Saudi soccer players refused to play a match in Iran because of a bust of the former Revolutionary Guard commander Qassem Suleimani, [a master terrorist whose militias have wreaked havoc throughout the Middle East, including within Saudi borders].

Of course, Israel is trying to bring Saudi Arabia into its orbit and to create a strong common front against Iran. The attack in Syria is ostensibly unrelated to the normalization process and is meant to prevent the terrorists on Israel’s northern border from laying their hands on sophisticated arms, but it nevertheless serves as a clear reminder for Riyadh that it must not scale back its fight against the constant danger posed by Iran.

Read more at Israel Hayom

More about: Iran, Israeli Security, Saudi Arabia, Syria