fishel rabinowicz


fishel rabinowicz

Fishel Rabinowicz was born in 1924 at Sosnowiec, in Poland, in a large traditional Jewish family, the third of ten children. The outbreak of the war had a severe impact on his life and that of his family. When Poland was invaded in September 1939 by German troops, he was a student but had to abandon his studies as the Nazis prohibited the Jews from attending school. He helped his family to survive by working clandestinely at night with his father and brothers to manufacture soap, a very scarce commodity.

On May 26, 1941 he was captured and transported to a Nazi labor camp and successively spent time at nine different, between forced Nazi labour camps, and subsequently concentration camps.

In the Shoah he lost thirty-one members of his family, including his parents, three brothers and four sisters. On April 11, 1945 he was liberated by the 3rd American Army under General Patton. He was at the notorious Buchenwald concentration camp.

He came out of the Holocaust deeply stricken in health, and, after a long stay in a hospital in Germany, he was sent, through the intervention of the JOINT, to Switzerland for further care. During this period of convalescent he completed his study of Jewish culture and Yiddish literature.

In 1949 he began his professional studies in Graphic Arts and Decoration in Zurich and subsequently in Paris. In 1952 he moved to Locarno, Canton Ticino to work, there he met Henny Better whom he married in 1955. Their son Jose was born in 1957.

His retirement in 1989 signaled the moment in which he could completely dedicate himself to the project that had been progressively maturing in his mind for decades: an artistic representation of the Jewish cultural world and mystical tradition through a personal form of highly symbolic characters.

Towards the end of the war, I was in a work commando in the concentration camp. We laid down railway tracks. I was the youngest and the smallest in the group. At the beginning, we were 30 people. At the end of 1944, we were only 2 remaining people alive. How did I achieve this? I was lucky. I had fiery red hair. The Germans called me “Redhead”. I got lighter work.
Holocaust survivor and artist