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Yad Vashem The Story of the Jewish Community of Plonsk

Ernest (Hron) Auerbach

  • Self-Portrait, Bratislava, 1944
  • Gisi Fleischmann as Joan of Arc, Bratislava, 1944
  • Eugen Smetana, Bratislava, 1944
  • Hermann Danzig, Bratislava, 1944
  • Fridrich Drill, Bratislava, 1944
  • Ondrej Steiner, Bratislava, 1944
  • Richard Schnabel, Bratislava, 1944
  • Eta Singerová, Bratislava, 1944
  • Eugen Pless, Bratislava, 1944
  • Růžena Heitlingerová, Bratislava, 1944

Born in Rožňava, Austro-Hungarian Empire, in 1898. Died in Bratislava, Czechoslovakia, in 1982.

Auerbach studied architecture at the technical colleges of Budapest and Prague. During the war, he was employed as a civil engineer at the “Jewish Center” in Bratislava, which was established in September 1940 by order of the Slovakian regime, to administer Jewish life there. Antisemitic laws led to a housing shortage for Jews, thus the “Jewish Center”'s Building Department constructed housing for Jewish laborers. A small group of “Jewish Center” workers formed a semi-underground unit (the Working Group) determined to save the lives of Jews. After the “Jewish Center” was liquidated in the autumn of 1944, Auerbach apparently lived in hiding until liberation. After the war, he lived and worked as an architect in Bratislava.

At the request of Dr. Oskar Jermijahu Neumann, the last chairman of the “Jewish Center”, Auerbach documented his colleagues in the Building Department and members of the Working Group in caricature. The artist signed his works with his pseudonym, Auerbach. In one of the artworks, Gisi Fleischmann, who headed the Emigration Department, is depicted as Joan of Arc, surrounded by the leaders of the Working Group. Many of Auerbach’s colleagues in the Building Department added their signatures at the bottom of their portrait. The persons are portrayed with irony and in a grotesque mode, while incorporating biblical and mythological iconography.

Yad Vashem holds in its collection 39 caricatures donated by Dr. Neumann.