"I came after catastrophe":

The refugee experience and its impact on Mordechai Ardon, Miron Sima and Lea Grundig 1933-1945

This paper explores the effect of the experience of refugeehood on the artists Mordecai Ardon, Meron Sima, and Lea Grundig in 1933-1945. The three, who were established artists in the German artistic scene in the interwar years, were persecuted with Hitler’s rise to power. Ardon and Sima escaped relatively early in 1933. That was not the case of Grundig, who endured much suffering in Germany before she managed to escape to pre-State Israel in 1939. In this paper, I sought to connect the artistic discourse to the broader socio-historical discourse, and examine how the experience of refugeehood engendered a unique sensibility among these artists -  a sensibility that led them to be the first artists who responded already during the Second World War to the subjects of refugeehood and the Holocaust. Immediately upon his arrival in Tel Aviv, Meron Sima created a series of drawings in response to the events in Germany, and from 1938, threw himself into the theme of refugees. In his works, Ardon responded to actual events like the Anschluss, the sinking of MV Struma, and the separation from the family in Europe, while Grundig, even though she was not in Europe in the years of the concentration camps, managed to print in Israel as early as 1944 the album “In the Valley of Slaughter” – the first time the Holocaust was portrayed in art in the meaning of genocide, as we recognize it today.   

Rachel Berger

ד"ר רחלי ברגר היא חוקרת אמנות העוסקת בשואה ובעיצוב זיכרונה. מלמדת במכללה האקדמית לחינוך "תלפיות" ובמכללת "גבעת וושינגטון" קורסים בתחומי האמנות הישראלית, שילוב אמנויות בחינוך ועוד, וכן עורכת קטלוגים לאמנות.