World War II ended almost 70 years ago but the impact of the Holocaust still lives with over 200,000 survivors worldwide. Although it is difficult to accurately capture exact data on the number of survivors, it ia estimated that their average age is 79. And although so many brilliant and talented individuals were killed in camps. fortunately there are individuals who, despite incredible obstacles, are alive and have experienced successful creative lives. The following is a brief story of three of these individuals.
SAMUEL BAK, 81: Painter and Writer
An exceptional artist, who some acknowledge to be the greatest living painter of the Holocaust, has developed his art from a young age. He was born in Lithuania/Poland where, at the age of 9, he had his first exhibition inside the confines of the Vilna Ghetto. Survived with only his mother, after the war they eventually settled in Israel where he studied art at the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design in Jerusalem.
A collection of his works is on permanent display at Pucker Gallery in Boston, Massachusetts and many exhibitions of his art have been in prominent museums and galleries worldwide.
• 2001 Publication of his book Painted in Words: A Memoir, (printed in four languages).
• 2002 Received the Herkomer Cultural Prize in Landsberg, Germany
JUDITH (PETO) LEIBER, 93: Handbag designer
Born in Hungary, Judith was preparing for university matriculation in London when she returned home to be with her family despite the new restrictions for Jews. “Hitler put me in the handbag business” Judith says because Jews were not allowed to study so she had to learn a trade. Met and married Gerson (Gus) Leiber , an American GI, in Budapest and they settled in New York City. She worked for various handbag companies when in the 1960s with encouragement from her husband, she began her own company. Judith Leiber’s worldwide success is an extraordinary story of hard work, smarts and enormous technical and visual talent. Her handbags are on permanent display at the Smithsonian in Washington, DC, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, the Victoria and Albert Museum in London and her own museum, The Leiber Museum, in Springs, New York.
• 1973 Coty American Fashion Critics Award
• 1980 Silver Slipper Award from the Costume Institute of the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston
• 1994 Lifetime Achievement Award from the Council of Fashion Designers of America
• 2010 Visionary Woman Award from Moore College of Art & Design
YORAM GROSS, 87: Animation artist of stories for children
Born in Poland, he loved music above all and says "All I wanted to do was play Chopin". But he and his family were on Oskar Schindler’s famous list, but they decided to take their own risk escaping by moving and hiding places 72 times. He later moved to Israel where he worked and learned about documentaries and films and then moved to Australia where, with his wife, he honed his animation skills and created experimental films. Well known for his series of Blinky Bill and Dot and the Kangaroo, he tells the stories to the hearts of children that are rooted in the holocaust experience and laced with lessons of survival, kindness and triumph.
• 80+ international awards for various films
• 1995 Order of Australia
• 2011 Autobiography, “My Animated Life”
The University of Southern California’s Shoah Foundation and the University’s Institute for Creative Technologies are working on an extraordinary project to create holographic interviews available at museums worldwide. Designed to be an interactive exhibit, it will inform, educate and create a permanent remembrance for many many years. After the remaining holocaust survivors have passed on, their legacies will remain visible and audible in perpetuity and the lessons shall never be forgotten.