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Yad Vashem The Story of the Jewish Community of Plonsk

Arnold Daghani

"To Selma [Meerbaum-Eisinger] the works looked tame, as according to her they did not show sufficient cruelty. While all I wanted to do was to depict life in the camp. Have I achieved it? Heaven knows" Deborah Schultz-Edward Timms (eds.), Arnold Daghani’s Memories of Mikhailowka.
The Illustrated Diary of a Slave Labour Camp Survivor
, Vallentine Mitchell,
London - Portland, 2009, p. 104
  • Portrait of a Man Wearing a Hat, 1943
  • Portrait of Shulki, 1943
  • Baruch (Benedykt) Semmel, Bershad Ghetto, 1943
  • Dvora Milka Semmel, Mikhailowka Camp, 1943
  • Mussia Korn, Mikhailowka Camp, 1943
  • Simon Zucker, Czernowitz Ghetto, 1942
  • Natan Segal, Mikhailowka Camp, 1942

Born in Suceava, Austro-Hungarian Empire, in 1909. Died in Hove, England, in 1985.

In the late 1920s, he went to Munich and Paris, apparently to continue his art studies. He moved to Bucharest at the beginning of the 1930s and, due to his mastery of several languages, he worked as a clerk in an export firm. It was there that he changed his name from Korn to Daghani. In June 1940, he married Anişoara Rabinovici. A few months later, their home was damaged in an earthquake and they moved to Czernowitz. Following the German occupation in July 1941, Daghani was forced to work as a street cleaner. In October the couple were deported to the Czernowitz Ghetto, and in June 1942, they were conscripted for forced labor in Ladizhin. In August the couple were sent to the Mikhailowka Labor Camp in Transnistria, where the prisoners were compelled to repair the main road from Gaisin to Uman.

In June 1943, Daghani was ordered to create a mosaic in the shape of the German eagle, for the headquarters of the August Dohrmann Company in the nearby town of Gaisin. About a month later Daghani and his wife escaped, and managed to reach the Bershad Ghetto. With the intervention of the Red Cross, they were released on December 31, 1943 and went to Tiraspol. In March 1944, they made their way to Bucharest, where they remained until the end of the war. In 1958, they immigrated to Israel. The Daghanis returned to Europe in 1961, eventually settling in England.

When Daghani was deported to the Czernowitz Ghetto, a policeman ordered him to take his sketchbook and paints with him, suggesting that they might help him to survive. At Mikhailowka, Daghani used these art supplies to portray life in the camp and to paint portraits of the camp's prisoners, officers and guards. He continued in the Bershad Ghetto, painting portraits of the internees, as well as scenes from the ghetto. After his liberation, Daghani dedicated his life to art and to writing his memoirs. Daghani's portraits, their seemingly esthetic quality notwithstanding, constitute rare color testimony to the cruel and harsh reality of the prisoners' lives.