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You killed my Jew

Post #1308 • March 5, 2009, 11:12 AM • 6 Comments

This has to be some kind of record for a pointless destruction of artistic life. Bruno Schulz was an artist and short story writer who had earned an appreciable amount of recognition in his native Poland. A Gestapo sargeant named Felix Landau intervened in his internment into forced labor, and brought him into his home with orders to decorate his children's nursery.

Landau did save Schulz for more than a year, until November 1942, by providing him with work and the means for minimal sustenance. Schulz, whose literary reputation as a short-story writer had already been established, had obtained false Aryan papers and was about to escape when another Gestapo sergeant, Karl Günter, angry that Landau had killed his Jewish dentist, put a bullet in Schulz's head. He is said to have told Landau: "You killed my Jew. Now I’ve killed yours."

The murals he painted for the children were rediscovered in 2001 in what is now Ukraine, removed under somewhat controversial circumstances, and installed in Yad Vashem in Jerusalem.

I own the Northwestern University Press catalogue of drawings, and it's full of charming depictions of shtetl life and intriguing scenes of erotic female domination. He's definitely worth a look if you don't know him.




March 5, 2009, 11:28 AM

Schulz, certainly capable. The erotica, a kind of clumsy Balthus.



March 5, 2009, 12:34 PM

He's no Balthus, for sure. But there's definitely something to them.



March 5, 2009, 12:52 PM

In the Balthus, the male is, even when bothered, somehow charmed, carried away in reverie. In the Schulz domination scenes, the male seems merely depraved, craven.



March 5, 2009, 2:09 PM

Well, gosh, that's an upbeat story.

Maybe a good thing to think of when I am pissed at circumstances. It allows one to say, well, it could be (a lot) worse.


Chris Rywalt

March 5, 2009, 6:13 PM

If there's anything I've learned in my short time on this planet, Opie, it's that suffering isn't relative. Just because you can think of people who've had it worse doesn't make it better for you.


Mr. Arrow

March 5, 2009, 8:25 PM

The story of Bruno Schultz is profoundly sad.

I have a distant cousin named David Olère who lived through this period and his work is harrowing.

My parents have a charcoal drawing he did of my father when they visited him in Paris in 1969 which is excellent.



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