This diary should not have so much blackness in it, in this way a line is to be drawn. I depicted an apple, I’ve already been given the rotten part, I’ve bitten into and eaten the most abominable part. Now it’s up to me to choose, I choose for myself the good, the bright sky, to the goal! (Notebook 2, November 1, 1945).
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 written over 240notebooks. His diary is a mosaic of words and drawings through which he attempts to express his past, contemplate his present, and imagine his future.
Yehuda Bacon was born in Moravská Ostrava, Czechoslovakia, and in 1941, at the age of thirteen, he was deported with his family to Theresienstadt. Two years later, he was sent to Auschwitz-Birkenau, where he was first placed in the family camp and, a few months later, was among a group of teens selected to work as forced laborers. Bacon survived death marches to Mauthausen and Gunskirchen before he was finally liberated, only to discover that aside from one sister, his entire nuclear family had been murdered. 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 notebooks tell the story of a young survivor exploring his emotional and physical challenges after intense suffering and losses, and discovering his strengths, while building a life after the Shoah. The writings reflect the author’s inner dialogue regarding the meaning of his existence,expressing his intimate thoughts as well as his imagined conversations with lost loved ones, contemporaries, and the fellow camp inmates with whom he shared his darkest hours.
The first two notebooks, published in this first volume of the series, articulate the chaos and insecurity of the early postwar period and reveal Bacon’s search for companionship, direction, and a new home. His words, accompanied by his earliest sketches, offer documentary evidence of the destruction, his personal world, and his tremendous efforts to create a life of value and meaning.