I was born in Belgium and with my brother and parents survived the Holocaust by being hidden and rescued by non-Jewish people in Belgium. We are the last family members of the late artist. In dedication to Kirszenbaum’s legacy I am working on keeping his artistry alive and present in the world as a commemoration to a lost generation. In addition, I am actively involved as a member in The Commission for the Designation of the Righteous at "Yad Vashem", Jerusalem, Israel.
My personal story is intertwined with Kirszenbaum himself. Both belong to generations that survived the Holocaust but were also destroyed. My mother’s entire family, including Kirszenbaums family in Poland, his beloved wife and many close friends were murdered in the Holocaust.
Kirszenbaums only surviving family members were a sister of my mother (Kirszenbaum’s aunt), who had immigrated to Israel in the 1930s. And the family Diament in Belgium, who were saved through being hidden and living with non-Jewish families in Belgium during the war. Both my parents, my brother and I were reunited after the war and lived in Belgium until we emigrated to Israel in 1949. Before, in 1947, Kirszenbaum visited our home in Belgium several times and stayed with the family during a time of great depression and sorrow. My childhood memory of my uncle is taking a walk with him, holding his hand and remembering him saying something as: “the field of art would pursue my personality”. We were never to meet again. Kirszenbaum had been planning on having an exhibition in Jerusalem just before his sudden death in 1954.
Today it is my occupation to restore the artists legacy. Toward this effort, I left the managerial activities which had occupied most of my professional life and studied Jewish Art at Hebrew University in Jerusalem. The fruits of my labor came in 2013 with the publication of a book, "J.D. Kirszenbaum 1900-1954 the Lost Generation", and the organization of a number of exhibitions of the artist's work in Israel at the "Ein-Harod Museum", the "Tel-Aviv Museum of Jewish People" and the "Villa Vassilief" in Paris. All of this effort is accomplished in partnership with my brother Amos Diament, who as well communicates and carries out Kirszenbaums message into the world, bringing him back to the museums. In addition he documents Kirszenbaum's artwork in photography as well as the exhibitions.
The beginnings of the research were not easy and involved a lot of work. But I have managed to get many helping hands over the last few years: A number of academic researchers and volunteers from all over the world try to obtain as much information as possible about J. D. Kirszenbaum, to reconstruct his life and to recover as much of his works as possible.
2013 & 2014: Public speeches & conferences in the Mishkan Museum of Art, Ein Harod and the Museum of Jewish People - The Diaspora Museum, Tel Aviv.
2013: Mémorial juif, Paris & Koordinierungsstelle Magdeburg, Berlin, Germany – Introduction to the book “L’Irréparable. Itinéaires d’artistes et d’amateurs d’art juifs, réfugiés du ‘Troisième Reich’ en France” (Eds.: Anne Grynberg, Johanna Linsler).
2017: Zentrum für historische Forschung der Polnischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, Berlin – Polish Avant-garde in Berlin, Germany.
2019: Leo Baeck Institute, Jerusalem, Israel – The Modern Jewish Experience between West and East
For more information on the program of the Righteous Among the Nations at Yad Vashem - The World Holocaust Remembrance Center - click below:
The efforts of his work and research on restoring his great-uncles legacy have been resumed in this interview with the Goethe-Institut Tel Aviv, Israel.