The Jewish Drawings of Joan Nyman tell an important story and illustrate how art can be a powerful educational tool, which can raise awareness, teach tolerance, and help combat bullying. We can learn from the lessons of the Holocaust, in anti bullying programs in our schools, as well as in trying to solve global problems.
From 1943-1945, Nazi Germany, under Adolph Hitler enacted an unthinkable state-sponsored campaign of hatred, discrimination and brutality against the Jewish people, that resulted in the annihilation of 6 million Jews.*
The Jewish communities of Eastern Europe had existed for hundreds of years and were incredibly diverse---ranging from those well integrated into their respective countries to the very pious religious communities who maintained a very separate and unique way of life. While the drawings on this website tell the story of some of the poorest and most pious of the Jewish communities, all Jews under Nazi domination---religious or secular--- met the same fate.
Their faces are a poignant reminder of the importance of respecting different religions and cultures and combating prejudice and hatred wherever it exists.
It is my hope that these drawings provide a visceral connection with a way of life that has long since disappeared and, in some small way, contribute to honoring the memory of the six million Jews who were killed in the Holocaust.
The lessons of The Holocaust are an integral part of our common history,and remind us to stay vigilant and speak out against any injustice we may see.
"ALL THAT IS NECESSARY FOR THE TRIUMPH OF EVIL IS FOR GOOD MEN TO DO NOTHING" **
Brief History of the Holocaust
In 1933, Hitler became Chancellor of Germany and began a systematic persecution of Jews. Below are some of the series of steps/laws which deprived Jews of their basic human rights.
Being Jewish was defined as having one Jewish grandparent, and all Jews (religious,secular, of any social and economic group) were deemed inferior to the German "Aryan master race" and were shipped to concentration camps and to "Death Camps", where they were ultimately killed. Few survived this mass murder or what Germans referred to as the "Final Solution of the Jewish Problem."
- The first concentration camp was opened at Dachau, foreshadowing coming events
- Jews were deprived of a way to make a living by Germans boycotting Jewish businesses and by Jews being barred from various professions
- By 1935, "NO JEWS" signs forbid Jews from stores, restaurants and public facilities
- By 1938,-1939 passports of Jews were marked with a "J"
- anti-semitic riots broke out
- synagogues were burned
- all Jewish businesses were taken by the state
- all Jewish children were expelled from German schools
- Jews were required to carry Identity Papers
- By 1939, the wearing of a yellow Jewish star was compulsory, so that Jews could be easily identified
- Jews were confined to ghettos
- By 1940, Jews were arrested and sent to concentration camps
- By 1941-1942, "Death Camps" were set up to implement the "Final Solution"--the mass murder of Jews
- As the Nazis conquered other countries, Jews in Nazi occupied Europe also became part of the six million victims of the Holocaust.
With each successive step in the persecution of the Jews, there were some in Germany and Nazi occupied nations who spoke out or helped Jews, at great personal risk.***
But, most stayed silent or took part, claiming no personal responsibility for what happened, defending their actions by saying that they were just "following orders".
When the Allies defeated Germany in 1945 and liberated the concentration camps, the world learned the full extent of the evil and horror the Nazis had perpetrated.
* homosexuals, disabled, Romani, political opponents were also persecuted, sent to concentration camps, and murdered
** Edmund Burke
*** The Righteous Among Nations