Father wanted to have a bit of land and to live contentedly in Eretz [Israel]. I’m on my way there. Will that country become dear to my heart? Will I one day call it my country? My homeland? Notebook 4, April 12, 1946
The world-renowned Israeli artist and Holocaust survivor Yehuda Bacon began to keep a diary in July 1945, while in a youth home in Štiřín, Czechoslovakia, shortly after his liberation. During the past six decades, Bacon has written over 240 notebooks. His diary is a mosaic of words and drawings through which he remembers his past, contemplates his present, and imagines his future.
Bacon was born in Moravská Ostrava, Czechoslovakia. In 1941, at the age of thirteen, he was deported with his family to Theresienstadt. Two years later he was sent to Auschwitz-Birkenau. Bacon survived death marches to Mauthausen and Gunskirchen before he was finally liberated, only to discover that his entire nuclear family had been murdered, aside from one sister. In 1946, Bacon immigrated to Eretz Israel and studied at the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design, where he later became a professor of graphics and drawing.
These diary notebooks tell the story of a young survivor exploring his emotional and physical challenges after intense suffering, discovering his strengths and abilities as he builds a life after the Shoah. The writings echo the author’s inner dialogue regarding the meaning of his existence, and his conversations, real and imagined, with his lost loved ones, contemporaries, and former fellow camp inmates.
The first volume in the series, covering the first two notebooks, was published in 2019. This second volume brings to the reader the third and fourth notebooks, wherein Bacon records his journey to Eretz Yisrael and his contemplations as he takes leave of the country of his birth, but also the landscape of his persecution, embarking on a bold voyage to an unknown country in which he hopes to regain some of what was lost. Bacon's words, accompanied by his early sketches, offer a profound documentation of the destruction, his personal world, and his tremendous efforts to create a life of value and meaning.