"From the time of my escape from Berlin to Prague, I was trying to get acquainted with the members of its Jewish Community to call their attention to my ability as a portraitist. Once I made it known that I had the intention of putting together an album of portraits, the orders came in abundance.” David Friedmann, “Das Krafft Quartett”, 8 May 1973 (Testimony), Yad Vashem Collection
Born in Mährisch Ostrau, Austro-Hungarian Empire, in 1893. Died in St. Louis, United States, in 1980.
In 1911, Friedmann moved to Berlin, where he worked as a sign painter, studied art with Hermann Struck and also with Lovis Corinth, on the advice of Max Liebermann. During World War I, he served as an artist in the Austro-Hungarian army. After the war, he returned to Berlin, working as a freelance press artist. His works were displayed in exhibitions at the Academy of Fine Arts and the Berliner Secession. Following the rise of the Nazi regime, in 1933, his career came to an end and he earned his living renovating buildings. In December 1938, shortly after Kristallnacht, Friedmann, along with his wife Mathilde and daughter Mirjam, fled to Prague. On October 16, 1941, the three were deported to the Lodz Ghetto in the first transport from Prague. He continued to paint in the ghetto. When the ghetto was liquidated on August 30, 1944, Friedmann was transported to Auschwitz, never to see his wife and six-year-old daughter again. He was conscripted for forcedlabor in Gleiwitz I, a satellite camp of Auschwitz. From there, he was evacuated on a death march to Blechhammer. At the end of January 1945, he was liberated by the Red Army.
Friedmann returned to Prague and remarried in 1948, to Hildegard Taussig, a Holocaust survivor herself. In 1949, the couple immigrated to Israel, where their daughter Miriam was born. She was named after Friedmann's first daughter, who was murdered in the Holocaust. In 1954, the family immigrated to the United States, settling in St. Louis, where Friedmann worked as a billboard painter for a living, and continued to be active as an artist.
Portraiture engaged David Friedmann from his earliest years as an artist. During World War I, he painted portraits of decorated soldiers on the Russian front. As a press artist in Berlin, he primarily sketched portraits. After fleeing to Prague, he made his living by drawing portraits of prominent members of the Jewish Community. In the Lodz Ghetto, his portraits of the ghetto leadership enabled him to obtain food for his family to survive. His artistic talents were a means for survival again in the Gleiwitz camp, where SS officers had him paint their portraits.