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On Display Leon Engelsberg's "The Warsaw Ghetto Uprising Monument during its Construction" (1947)

Last year 16 pieces from the estate of the artist Leon Engelsberg, a Holocaust survivor, were added to the Ghetto Fighters' House art archives. The piece The Warsaw Ghetto Uprising Monument during its Construction (1947) is now on permanent display in the main entrance of the museum. This work, which is oil on canvas, stands as a piece of documentation, the artist's testimony, and describes the destruction of the Warsaw ghetto, and the building of the monument in memory of the Warsaw Jewry as it takes place. The piece is on display as it was painted in 1947, with no intervention, in a glass box that pinpoints the time of its creation.

Leon Engelsberg (Warsaw, 1919 – Jerusalem, 1998) survived the Holocaust by fleeing Warsaw for Soviet territory in 1940 with one of his brothers. Their older brother was killed in September 1939 in a German aerial attack on the city. Their parents and Leon's twin sister, who remained behind, apparently perished in the Treblinka extermination camp. In 1943, he enlisted in the Polish expatriates' army division attached to the Soviet Red Army, fought in battles, and was wounded in combat.

In 1946 Engelsberg returned to the ruined Warsaw, where he studied painting and lived until his emigration to Israel in 1957. The void Engelsberg encountered on his return to Warsaw is expressed in his early paintings in which he depicted the memorial monument to those who resisted in the ghetto. This monument was erected on th ruins and was dedicated on 19 April 1948, marking the fifth anniversary of the uprising's outbreak.

 

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