Croatia hosts art exhibition in memory of Holocaust victims

The exhibition in Zagreb featured about 30 paintings and graphic works from Meer Axelrod's "Nazi Occupation" series.

Guests view the exhibition of Meer Axelrod's 'Nazi Occupation' series in Zagreb, Croatia. (photo credit: MAYA LASKOVICH)
Guests view the exhibition of Meer Axelrod's 'Nazi Occupation' series in Zagreb, Croatia.
(photo credit: MAYA LASKOVICH)
Croatia hosted an art exhibition in memory of Holocaust victims last week, featuring about 30 paintings and graphic works from Meer Axelrod's "Nazi Occupation" series.
The exhibition in Zagreb is a joint project of the Russian Embassy in Croatia, the Alexander Pechersky Foundation, the Zagreb Academy of Fine Arts, Shira Gallery, Rossotrudnichestvo Representative Office in Croatia and the Euro-Asian Jewish Congress.
The series, created between 1942 and 1943 in Almaty, Kazakhstan, has never been displayed together, as the works were kept by the artist's family and experts were not even aware of its existence.
Axelrod was banned from artistic life in the Soviet Union, but continued to paint works about Jews and the fate of Jews in pogroms and the Holocaust. The works in this series not only show the horrific condition of life under Nazi rule, but also resistance and partisans, such as the only lifetime portrait of Alexander Pechersky, the leader of the uprising in the Sobibor concentration camp.
“Artworks by Meer Axelrod could serve at the Nuremberg trials as evidence of the mass extermination of civilians, including almost three million of Soviet Jews,” said Ilya Vasiliev, the exhibition's curator and head of the Alexander Pechersky Foundation.
“Meer Axelrod started creating his works about the Holocaust during the war and continued working on this subject until his last day," said Mikhail Yakhilevich, a contemporary artist as well as Axelrod's grandson.
"This series was never exhibited during the artist's lifetime, since in the Soviet Union it was not allowed to single out the Jewish tragedy. It is symbolic that the exhibition, organized by Russia’s Pechersky Foundation and supported by the Euro-Asian Jewish Congress, is being held in Croatia, a country where almost the entire Jewish population had perished.”
Mikhail Yakhilevich, artist and grandson of Meer Axelrod, is seen at the exhibition of Axelrod's 'Nazi Occupation' series in Zagreb, Croatia. (Credit: Maya Laskovich)Mikhail Yakhilevich, artist and grandson of Meer Axelrod, is seen at the exhibition of Axelrod's 'Nazi Occupation' series in Zagreb, Croatia. (Credit: Maya Laskovich)
“I would like to thank the Russian Embassy in Croatia, Alexander Pechersky Foundation and the Academy of Fine Arts for their blessed collaboration, which culminated in the opening of this landmark exhibition of Meer Axelrod in Croatia," said Rabbi Dr. Kotel DaDon, chief rabbi of the Bet Israel Jewish Community of Croatia. "Axelrod managed to convey to us the evidence of many Jewish tragedies, from pogroms to the Holocaust. This exhibition is certainly one of his great creations.”
Also in attendance at the exhibition was Zagreb Mayor Milan Bandic, Russian Ambassador to Croatia Anvar Azimov, Kazakhstani Ambassador to Croatia Tolezhan Barlybaev and Croatian government representatives.


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