Call for Papers | Yad Vashem Research Workshop | The Post-War Period As Reflected Through Art

Yad Vashem workshop
Friday, 29 October, 2021

Call for Papers: Research Workshop

Diana and Eli Zborowski Centre for the Study of the Aftermath of the Holocaust and The Museums Division, Yad Vashem invite proposals for a scholarly workshop on the topic of:

The post-war period as reflected through Art

Location: Yad Vashem, Jerusalem, Israel

Date: October 25-26, 2022

Survivors of the Holocaust produced powerful works using different means that record or reflect on their experiences. In the months and years following their liberation a number of survivors who were artists turned to their craft in order to work through their past, rebuild their emotional worlds and commemorate their losses.

Art was created in different locations including: displaced persons’ camps, orphanages, children’s homes, sanatoriums, on immigration vessels and in their new homes. For artists the ability to paint once again freely expressed their freedom, and symbolized their renewed independence and a return to their selves. The choice of their Art's subject and the grip on the pencil or brush symbolically renewed their feeling of control, after years of helplessness. The act of painting was for some a process of mental and spiritual rehabilitation through which they could express and process the trauma. Through their Art many survivors tried to cope with the feelings that overwhelmed them and express the sense of loneliness, agony and devastation. Survivors could also use the canvas, paper or clay as a space for questions regarding their identity which was challenged as a result of their war-time experiences. Furthermore, many survivors who found it difficult to talk about their experiences and were not always encouraged, Art became a medium through which they could express what they had endured and lost. Most survivors grappled with the conflict between the anguish of the past and the desire to return to life and art enabled a space in which the artist could navigate these contradictory feelings.

This workshop invites scholars to present their work on the topic Art of survivors of the Holocaust in the immediate post-war period. It aims to explore some of the following issues:

  • Documenting the ruin and destruction
  • Representing the day of liberation
  • Art as a means for exploring personal identity
  • Art as a means for commemorating personal loss
  • Art as a medium to cope with Trauma/Therapy
  • The use of symbolic language in conveying experience.
  • Representing freedom
  • Art in the DP camps
  • Educating about the Holocaust through art; the first exhibitions and publications
  • The development of a new artistic language in response to the Holocaust
  • Acquiring materials and instruction during the post-war period.
  • The biography of Individual artists
  • Official war artists communicating the war and its aftermath.
  • The Acquisition of the post-war art of survivors
  • Rebuilding a Destroyed Art world
  • What is the relationship between the historical event and representations of it, between what happened and how it is passed down to us?
  • German Artists' confrontation with the Nazi era
  • Non-Jewish Artists' response
  • World’s reception to Holocaust Art
  • The Search of a new Home and its representation
  • Zionism and Eretz-Israel in the survivors’ artwork
  • Yishuv Artists' Response
  • Search for Justice and Post-War Trials in Art

Please send your paper proposal of no more than 1500 words and a short 150-word biography by January 2022 to:

Papers will be 20 minutes in length.

Applicants will be notified by March 2022 of their inclusion in the program.


Jakob Zim (Cymberknopf) (1920 - 2015)

View of Buchenwald, a Few Days after Liberation

Buchenwald, 1945
Watercolor on paper
18.7 x 29.3 cm

Gift of the Artist Collection of the Yad Vashem Art Museum