On this day in 1943, the people of the Warsaw ghetto began an uprising against Nazi Germany’s eventual transfer of the remaining ghetto population to the death camps of Majdanek and Treblinka. The uprising began when the ghetto refused to surrender to police commander Jürgen Stroop, who ordered the entire ghetto to be burned block by block until May 16. A total of 13,000 Jews were killed, about half of them burned alive or suffocated.

Today we present a very peaceful painting by Jewish artist Symcha Trachter. ” The Orchard ” presents all the hallmarks of Cincha Tractor’s artwork with its strong colors, heavy brushstrokes and dynamic representation of nature. The work was created around 1928 while the painter was in France.

Artist Hincha (Simon) Tractor was born on September 16, 1894 in Lublin. He came from a wealthy Jewish merchant family that had been assimilated. His hometown greatly influenced the style of his work and inspired Tractor to create many urban landscapes. Little is known about the artist’s childhood, his attitude toward ancestral beliefs, and his fluent Yiddish language. Because of his wealthy family, he was able to spend most of his time studying painting. He attended art schools in Warsaw, Krakow and Vienna. The turning point of his career was his life in Paris from 1925 to 1929. In France, Tractor was able to compare his own art with that of his contemporaries. This made a fundamental change in his painting style. After returning to Poland in 1930, the first exhibition of his work was held in the building of the Jewish Society in Warsaw, with the aim of promoting local art. From that moment on, Tractor regularly exhibited his paintings to the public.

Tracht, who was in the Polish town of Kazimierz Dolny, was affected when the war broke out; no information has been preserved about what happened to him in the first months of the military conflict. By 1940 he was already living in the Warsaw ghetto. Between 1941 and 1942, the Warsaw Jewish Council received sufficient funds to renovate the meeting room on Grzybowska Street. The renovated room will be decorated with a mural depicting Job. The project was commissioned to three artists: Tractor, Feliks Frydman and Samuel Puterman. In May 1942, after nearly half a year of work, Tractor completed his last painting. By funding the renovations, the Germans may well be trying to get ghetto residents to let their guard down. Just two months later, they launched Grossaktion . On August 25, 1942, Tractor was captured and likely died at Treblinka. The seat of the Jewish Council, the paintings on the walls, and the entire Jewish quarter were obliterated.

Thanks to the Jewish Historical Institute in Warsaw for allowing us to share today’s paintings. More works by Tractor and other pre-war Jewish artists can be viewed on the Delet website .

Side note: Artist Erna Rosenstein has a fascinating story. She was a Holocaust survivor, a communist, and most importantly, an artist.

57 x 73 cm

Jewish Historical Institute

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