The Cold Shower of a New Life: The Postwar Diaries of a Child Survivor, Volume 3: April 23, 1946−July 10, 1946
Yehuda Bacon, Edited by Sharon Kangisser Cohen and Dorota Julia Nowak
I’ve been four years without a home. But I still have hope in this black world that I will one day be able to do what I really want [Notebook 6, May 29, 1946], The world-renowned Israeli artist and Holocaust survivor Yehuda Bacon began to keep a diary in July 1945, while living in a youth home in Štiřín, Czechoslovakia, shortly after his liberation. During the past six decades, Bacon has filled 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 two volumes in the series, covering the first four notebooks, were published in 2019 and 2020. This third volume brings to the reader the fifth and sixth notebooks, wherein Bacon records his first months living in Eretz Israel, his reunion with his sister, Rella, and his life and studies at the agricultural school Mikveh Yisrael. These notebooks articulate his efforts to develop his talents and training as an artist. Bacon’s words, accompanied by his sketches, offer a profound documentation of the destruction, his personal world, and his tremendous efforts to create a life of value and meaning.