• What chroniclers and historians have had to say:
  • Comments by people who knew him, followed by citations from standard reference works:
  • Oskar Rosenfeld, ghetto chronicler:
Entry in the “Getto-Enzyklopädie” (Łódź State Archive, PSZ 1103, card 139). Courtesy of Ewa Wiatr, University of Łódź. Rosenfeld mentions the “Wissenschaftliche Abteilung” (“Scholarly Department”), which employed Lejzerowicz. CLICK HERE for a compilation of information about this short-lived department (1942-1943), the only one set up directly by the German ghetto administration without consultation with Rumkowski.

L e j z e r o w i c z  Israel
Maler, geb. 1902 in Lodz, studierte auf Grund eines Stipendiums in Berlin in einer unabhängigen privaten Schule Malerei. Erste Ausstellungen in Lodz und Krakau. Im Lodzer Stadtmuseum befinden sich 5 Bilder des Künstlers. Einer der wenigen jüdischen Maler, die auch in polnischen Kreisen Beachtung gefunden haben.
    Im Getto arbeitete er für die sogenannte “Wissenschaftliche Abteilung” [siehe dort], indem er durch Schaffung einer Reihe jüdischer Motive die folkloristische Sammlung der genannten Abteilung bereicherte.
    Was den künstlerischen Stil anlangt, suchte Lejzerowicz den Naturalismus mit der mystischen Ausdeutung der wirklichen Welt zu verschmelzen.
                                                                                        O. R.

Izrael Lejzerowicz
“Painter, born 1902 in 
Łódź, studied at an independent private school in Berlin thanks to a scholarship. First exhibitions in Łódź and Krakow. In the City Museum of Łódź there are five paintings by the artist. One of the few Jewish painters who were also highly considered in Polish circles.
    In the ghetto, he worked for the so-called “Scholarly Department” (q.v.) where by creating a series of Jewish motifs he enriched the folklore collection of the department.
    As to his artistic style, Lejzerowicz sought to combine naturalism with mystical meaning in the objective world.

Rosenfeld writes more in his own diaries about the painter and their discussions. See:
Oskar Rosenfeld, 
Wozu noch Welt: Aufzeichnungen aus dem Getto Lodz. Hrsg. von Hanno Loewy. Frankfurt am Main: Verlag Neue Kritik, 1994. See also pp. 177-178, 282.

Rosenfeld also left 2 two-page articles in German entitled “Malerei im Getto” (“Painting in the Ghetto”). The first is dated 8 July 1942 and discusses Lejzerowicz in some detail, citing two paintings that have survived only in photographs:

LEJZEROWICZ Israel (Fischgasse 14a), geboren 1902 in Lodz, studierte auf Grund eines sogenannten Ettingon-Stipendiums (Ettingon, ein bekannter Grossindustrieller von Lodz und Mäzen) Malerei in Berlin. Nicht akademisch, sondern in einer privaten, unabhängigen Malschule. Erste Ausstellungen in Lodz und Krakau. Im Lodzer Stadtmuseum (heute Litzmannstadt und völlig erhalten) 5 Bilder. Einer der wenigen jüdischen Künstler, die auch in polnischen (und jetzt deutschen) Kreisen Beachtung und Anerkennung gefunden haben. Seine malerische Tätigkeit ist durch zahlreiche Umstände gehemmt. Zunächst durch deninneren: er ist darauf angewiesen, die Stoffwahl zu beschränken und jene Motive zu meiden, zu deren Darstellung er prädestiniert ist: die morphologische Fixierung der Gettowelt. Weiters durch den äusseren: ihm fehlt die Resonanz bei der Umgebung, die in die Nöte des Alltags verstrickt ist. Das freie, ungebundene Schafen fehlt. Das, was er im wesentlichen anstrebt, nämlich die Verknüpfung der antiken jüdischen Welt mit der Stimmung unserer Tage, ist ihm naturgemäss zur Zeit verwehrt.
STIL: Er bemüht sich, eine Synthese zwischen einem gefestigten Naturalismus und einem gebändigten Expressionismus zu schaffen. Als Grundlage malerischen Schaffens sieht er die Zeichnung an, um die herum sich die malerische Substanz gruppiert. Die Linie kann seiner Anschauung und Erfahrung nach das Wesentliche der menschlichen und landschaftlichen Natur besser verdeutlichen als die plastischen Elemente der Farbe. 
. . .
Leizerowicz sucht und betont die Innigkeit des Familienlebens, den Zusammenklang von Blut mit Blut: Mütterliche Frauen mit Kindern, Vater mit Sohn, mystische Assoziationen. Eine neue Art des sogenannten Familienbildnisses. Wendepunkt: Bildnis der Mutter. Nicht mehr das zärtlich beglückende Photographie-Gesicht, sondern die Monumentalität der jüdischen Mutter, die für das Schicksal der künftigen Generation verantwortlich ist. Moses zerschlägt die Gesetzestafeln. Eine Komposition von barokem Schwung, ein Versuch, neue Wege zu gehen, sich vom Illustrativen (Doré, Abel Pann und den deutschen Nazarenern) zu emanzipieren.
Für den Kulturhistoriker, für den Psychologen und Gettoforscher bietet die Kunst des Israel Leizerowicz wertvolle Ausblicke. Eine Reihe von Reproduktionen seiner Bilder kann die oben aufgestellte These bestätigen.

LEJZEROWICZ Israel (Fischgasse 14a), born in 1902 in Lodz, studied painting in Berlin thanks to a so-called Ettingon scholarship (Ettingon, a well-known industrialist and patron of Lodz). Not at the academy, but in a private, independent painting school. First exhibitions in Lodz and Krakow. In the Lodz City Museum (now Litzmannstadt and totally preserved) 5 pictures. One of the few Jewish artists who have found attention and recognition in Polish (and now German) circles. His painterly activity is inhibited by numerous circumstances. First, the internal: he is instructed to restrict the choice of subjects and to avoid those motifs to whose representation he is predestined: the morphological recording of the ghetto world. Furthermore, through the external: he lacks feedback from the environment, which is tangled up in the troubles of everyday life. Free, unbound creativity is missing. That which he is essentially seeking, namely the link between the ancient Jewish world with the atmosphere of our day, is by definition denied him at this time.
STYLE: He is trying to create a synthesis between a stable naturalism and a restrained expressionism. He considers drawing to be the basis of painterly creativity, around which painterly substance is gathered. According to his view and experience, it is line-drawing that elucidates the essence of human nature and landscape better than the plastic elements of color. 
. . .
Leizerowicz looks for and emphasizes the intimacy of family life, the harmony of blood with blood: Maternal women with children, father with son, mystical associations. A new type of the so-called family portrait. Turning point: Portrait of the Mother. No longer the tender uplifting photograph-face, but rather the monumentality of the Jewish mother who is responsible for the fate of the coming generation. Moses Breaking the Tablets of the Law. A composition with baroque momentum, an attempt to find new ways to be liberated from the illustrative style (Doré, Abel Pann, and the German Nazarenes).
For the cultural historian, the psychologist, and the ghetto researcher the art of Izrael Leizerowicz offers valuable prospects. A series of reproductions of his pictures can confirm the thesis laid out above.


(YIVO Archives, New York, Nachman Zonabend collection, RG241, folder 863; English translation by William Gilcher)

In a second article, dated 25 December 1943, and also called “Malerei im Getto” (“Painting in the Ghetto”), Rosenfeld writes: 

J. Leizerowicz gehört in die Reihe der denkenden Künstler, er ist Artist, bravourös in der Skizze, wobei er einen Stil anstrebt, den man „gebändigten Naturalismus“ nennen kann.

  • J. Leizerowicz belongs to the ranks of the thinking artists, he is an Artist, with bravado in his sketching, in which he attempts a style that one might call “restrained naturalism.”

(Oskar Rosenfeld, Wozu noch Welt: Aufzeichnungen aus dem Getto Lodz. Hrsg. von Hanno Loewy. Frankfurt am Main: Verlag Neue Kritik, 1994, p. 257 (Heft/Notebook J)

  • Sara Majerowicz (Sara Gliksman), survivor and painter:
cited in Paweł Spodenkiewicz, The Missing District: People and Places of Jewish Łódź. Translated by Dorota Wiśniewska and John Crust. Łódź: Wydawnictwo HOBO Press, 2007. pp. 136-137:

    Majerowicz recalled Lajzerowicz and his work. “Lajzerowicz was a poor thing. He was a bit disabled, suffering from lung problems. The Germans would sometimes give him something to paint. I came to his place once and he had two eggs for payment. He said: ‘I wouldn’t do this as a rule but one has to live on something.’ They shot him during the final liquidation of the ghetto.”


  • Hilda Stern Cohen, survivor and poet:
from Genagelt ist meine Zunge: Lyrik und Prosa einer Holocaust-Überlebenden. Hrsg. von Erwin Leibfried, Sascha Feuchert, William Gilcher. Frankfurt/Main: Bergauf-Verlag, 2003 (© Werner V. Cohen), reproduced here by permission of Werner V. Cohen, p. 57:

Um das Bild, das ich vom Ghetto Lodz zeichne, auszugleichen: In der Behausung, in der wir wohnten, über uns, lebte ein Künstler, er hieß Lejzerowicz. Einige seiner Gemälde haben den Weg in ein Warschauer Museum gefunden, wie ich kürzlich herausfand. Er war ein Mann mit einem Buckel, der von einem Mantel bedeckt war, ein Schlapphut war über ein starkes, langes Gesicht gezogen und seine glühenden Augen repräsentierten für meine siebzehnjährige Vorstellungskraft den Prototypen des romantischen Künstlers des 19. Jahrhunderts.
Im Ghetto führte er ein geborgenes Leben, beschützt vom Judenältesten, dessen Porträts er malte und durch dessen Verbindung er sogar auch die Porträts von Gestapo-Offiziellen malen sollte, die ihn im Gegenzug mit Farbe und Leinwand versorgten.
Ich schloß mit ihm Freundschaft, erzählte ihm von meinem Interesse an Gedichten, und er lud mich zu literarischen Versammlungen ein, die in seinem Zimmer stattfanden. Diese Zusammenkünfte wurden zu einem Leuchtturm in der unerbittlichen Dunkelheit und zu einer Mahnung daran, daß meine Existenz nicht bloß auf Nahrung und das Überleben von Stunde zu Stunde und Tag für Tag fokussiert sein mußte, sondern daß es daneben in der Tat noch andere Dinge gab. Dieser Freund von mir war dafür bestimmt, mein Leben zu retten.

from 
Words that Burn Within Me: Faith, Values, Survival. Edited by Werner V. Cohen, Gail Rosen, William Gilcher. Translation by Elborg Forster. Washington, DC: Dryad Press, 2008, (© Werner V. Cohen) reproduced here by permission of Werner V. Cohen, pp. 62-64:

Upstairs from the quarters in which we dwelled lived a painter, Lejzerowicz by name. To my seventeen-year-old romantic mind, he represented the example of a nineteenth-century artist. I made friends with him, told him of my interest in poetry, and he invited me to attend literary gatherings held in his room. 

One of the physiological results of constant hunger and near starvation is the total preoccupation with food, so that one is unable to think or talk of anything else, and even one’s dreams at night are filled with visions of food. These get-togethers became a beacon in the relentless darkness and a reminder that my existence need not be solely focused upon food and survival from hour to hour, day by day, but that there were, indeed, other dimensions.

The language of the ghetto was full of expressions to give voice to its inexpressible horrors but also making use of the gallows humor so often connected to the Jewish experience in history. 

Lejzerowicz led a charmed existence in the ghetto, protected by the president whose portraits he painted and through whose connection he was even to paint portraits of Gestapo officials who
provided paints and canvas. Having connections, which was called 
Protekcja, was of extreme importance. Nothing was as important as one’s connections in the ghetto. Through Lejzerowicz, I got some connections. He was able to get me a job, and I insisted that he also get my mother a job in the factory where we then got extra food.

Izrael Lejzerowicz lived with his father in a room in Rybna 14A. It was a flight of stairs up from the kitchen which my parents and I occupied. 

His hair was quite long, his face pale and sickly, but his eyes were brightly alive. His nose was long and aquiline between high cheekbones and the mouth seemed to move even when he was not speaking. He had the long slender hands of the artist and the hunchback, both of which he was.

The room upstairs served as their living quarters and the studio for him. As I got to know him, he invited me to his room. His father seemed to be permanently seated in a large wooden armchair in a corner of the room so as to make up part of the furnishings. He bore no resemblance to his son whatsoever. I remember him wearing a Polish cap and a long, patriarchal beard, a silent man. His bed filled one alcove and a spittoon stood right next to it. 

Lejzerowicz coughed a lot, and he complained of a heart condition. He said that at night he could hear himself galloping away upon the beat of his heart. He also told me of his recurring dreams of running breathlessly through unending libraries, knowing that the books he passed would never be read. 

There were paintings leaning against the wall, stacked in all the corners and half finished on two easels. His paintings were mostly of the Lodz ghetto which enveloped us, of the huge wooden bridges which connected the parts of the ghetto and which spanned the roads of the gentile city.

As regards the cultural club that Lejzerowicz had assembled, these were eight to ten men and women of the ghetto who all needed to express the bewilderment and horror they were living. All but myself were Polish Jews, most likely natives of Lodz. Most came from a Yiddishist culture, although I remember one young man who was writing in Polish. Lejzerowicz wrote in both languages. We were all enthusiastically critiquing each other, even though my understanding of the others’ contributions was, at best, imperfect, as, I would imagine, my German was to them. The experience of the literary circle lasted for a year or two.

I learned Yiddish in the ghetto, in Lodz. I had not really heard it until then. Even the children of people born in Eastern Europe who had emigrated to Germany didn’t know much Yiddish. Many of them had attended the seminary. They understood Yiddish because their parents spoke it. Children of those who were born in Germany never learned Yiddish. There was never any call for it. I can understand it if I ask people to speak slowly – not everything, because there are so many words mixed in that are not of German origin. The ghetto was run by the Germans, and for me, a Jew, to be speaking German was to be, by far, in the minority.

How enmeshed in language we all are. Yiddish, Polish, German, the language of the enemy, the torturer, the red-clawed beast waiting outside the ghetto! I was speaking its language, even celebrating it, in poetry, in my urge to give voice to my feelings. It was the only tool in my possession, and it was befouled. 

It didn’t really matter whether or not I understood every word of the others’ writing. Their laments had to be more authentic. They were written in a Jewish language, which even made use of the Hebrew alphabet. Lejzerowicz read his verses in a hollow, softly fluting voice, which I thought quite enchanting. There was another young girl who wrote in Polish, who was much acclaimed by the others. She had remarkably large eyes and Lejzerowicz once noted that she had the looks of a true poetess, which caused me pangs of jealousy. 

It is hard to say how much of my writing was, indeed, understood by my friends. Much is made of the German extraction of Yiddish. Over the centuries Yiddish has taken on linguistic characteristics of its own, which parodies its progenitor, German, while it removes its romanticism, adds irony and a Hebraic exotic flavor totally lacking from the original. No wonder that it has been looked down upon as the deformed, despised stepchild. But I learned in the ghetto in Lejzerowicz’s room, around the rickety wooden table, that this poor, uncouth foundling had learned to use the tongue passionately and honestly. Yiddish was made for crying, but also for screaming and cursing. It was the perfect language for the ghetto. 

Nevertheless, my friends were kind to me. They listened to my German words with sympathy and interest, claimed they understood it all perfectly and encouraged me to continue since we would all meet again “in freedom,” to continue our literary diversion, to benefit the remnant of the Jewish people and to light the outer darkness of the rest of mankind.

  • Chava Rosenfarb
From Goldie Morgentaler, University of Lethbridge, Alberta, daughter and translator of Yiddish-language novelist and essayist Chava Rosenfarb, December 2009:

And now about Lejzerowicz: In one of my mother’s essays, a first-person memoir about the Lodz ghetto poet Simcha-Bunim Shayevitch [Simḥah Bunam Szajewicz], I found the following description of Lejzerowicz, which I thought might interest you:

“I first met Shayevitch less than two years before the liquidation of the ghetto, two years and eight months before he perished. I was nineteen years old, a fledgling writer. He was a grizzled old man of thirty-five, an established poet, a member of the writers’ circle which at that time gathered at the home of the poet and painter Israel Lejzerowicz, since Miriam Ulinover and her husband had been taken away during the Sperre. Lejzerowicz, a hump-backed, dark-haired man always clad in a black cape which made him resemble a bird of prey, was the most severe literary critic in the ghetto.

Shayevitch took me along to meet the other Yiddish ghetto writers at Lejzerowicz’s apartment-studio, the walls of which were hung with Lejzerowicz’s paintings of the ghetto. There we would gather, sometimes once a week, sometimes every other week. Occasionally there was a long lapse in our gatherings because of some extraordinary events taking place in the ghetto, such as a prolonged period of evacuations, which, on a smaller scale, went on continuously. But hunger alone was never a good enough reason to prevent us from getting together.

There the writers read their work, which was later discussed and criticized, since publication was out of the question. Lejzerowicz was the most analytical and severe. He believed that Jewish creativity in the ghetto must live up to the demands of the apocalyptic times in which we lived. Nothing short of excellence was good enough for him. He abhorred self-pity or melodrama. He knew that, with his crippled figure, he did not stand a chance of surviving the selection and that it was only thanks to his work as Rumkowski’s portrait painter that he had been temporarily spared. No doubt this was the reason he made such demands of himself and of his colleagues.

Shayevitch would read chapters of his major work to Lejzerowicz in private. He seemed to enjoy provoking his criticism. But Shayevitch was reluctant to read any fragment of his epic to the entire writers’ group...”

[The text then goes on to speak about Shayevitch’s epic poem which did not survive the war.  More about Simkha-Bunim Shayevitch at: 
http://chavarosenfarb.com/simkha-bunim-shayevitch ]

“Simkha-Bunim Shayevitch, dermonungen” [“Simkha-Bunim Shayevitch, Reminiscences”] 
Di goldene keyt 131 (1991): 9-28. An edited version of this essay in English translation was published online in September 2012 in Tablet. http://www.tabletmag.com/jewish-arts-and-culture/books/111880/the-last-poet-of-lodz

  • Standard historical sources:
  • Andrzej Kempa, Marek Szuka, Żydzi Dawnej Łodzi: Słownik Biograficzny, Łódź: Oficyna Bibliofilów, 2001-2004, pp. 101-102.

LEJZEROWICZ (Lajzerowicz) Izrael (1902-1944), artist, painter, poet. He was born on 6 November 1902 in Łódź, the son of Leib, a poor tailor. Lame from birth (spinal curvature), he was probably self-taught, although the literature mentions study in Berlin thanks to a scholarship. Before the outbreak of World War II, he was active in a group of artists and writers called “טויז רו ט/ Ṭoyz royṭ,” which included, among others Halpern, Goldharem, Baruchin, Helman and Nelken. He illustrated works published by them. Collaborated on publications including “וועגןṾegn,” “שוועלן / Shṿeln / Szweln,” “Zalbe-Cajt.” Critics have regarded him as an extremely talented artist, one of the most promising in the young generation of painters in Łódź. In his work, he referred to the symbolic painting of Jewish themes and painted genre scenes and portraits. His work was characterized by static composition with high color values. He participated in exhibitions: Jewish Art (Łódź 1921), Łódź Artists,(1924), and the Society of Friends of Fine Arts in Kraków (1930). He co-founded the group known as “Start” and participated in group exhibitions of the group (1926, 1927). 

After being interned in the Łódź ghetto, he developed original poetry and painting. He lived with his father at Rybna 14a. He worked in the statistical office of the ghetto. He immortalized scenes from the streets of the ghetto on paper, plywood and canvas. Illustrations also turn up in the ghetto albums intended for the Eldest of the Jews and albums of the ghetto factories. Often ill. Had the patronage of Rumkowski, whom he portrayed several times before the final liquidation of the ghetto. In August 1944, he was deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau, where he soon died in the gas chamber. More than 50 of his works, including harrowing scenes from the ghetto, were rescued by Nachman Zonabend and are located in the Jewish Historical Institute in Warsaw, the History Museum in Łódź, the
Itzhak Katzenelson Holocaust and Jewish Resistance Heritage Museum in Beit Lohamei Haghetaot, and at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem.

LEJZEROWICZ (Lajzerowicz) Izrael (1902-1944), artysta malarz, poeta. Urodził się 6 XI 1902 r. w Łodzi jako syn Lejba, biednego krawca. Ułomny od urodzenia (skrzywienie kręgosłupa) był prawdopodobnie samoukiem, choć w poświęconej mu literaturze wspomina się jakoby studiował – dzięki uzyskanemu stypendium w Berlinie. Do wybuchu II wojny światowej aktywnie działał w grupie artystów i literatów “Tojz Rojt”, do której należeli m.in. Halpern, Goldharem, Baruchin, Helman i Nelken. Ilustrował wydane przez nich prace. Współpracował m.in. z wydawnictwami “Wegn”, “Szweln”, “Zalbe-Cajt”. Krytycy uznawali go za niezwykle utalentowanego artystę, jednego z najlepiej zapowiadających się malarzy łódzkich młodej generacji. W swojej twórczości nawiązywał do symbolicznych wątków malarstwa żydowskiego, malował sceny rodzajowe i portrety. Jego prace charakteryzowała statyczna kompozycja o dużych walorach kolorystycznych. Uczestniczył w wystawach: sztuki żydowskiej (Łódź 1921), artystów łódzkich (1924) oraz w Towarzystwie Przyjaciól Sztuk Pięknych w Krakowie (1930). Był współzałożycielem grupy “Start” i uczestniczył w wystawach zbiorowych członków tej grupy (1926, 1927).

Dopiero zamknięty w łódzkim getcie, rozwinął oryginalną twórczość poetycką i malarską. Mieszkał wraz z ojcem przy ul. Rybnej 14a. Pracował w urzędzie statystycznym getta. Uwiecznił na papierze, dykcie i płótnie scenki rodzajowe z ulic getta. Ilustrował też ukazujące się w getcie albumy wydziałów przeznaczone dla Przełożonego Starszeństwa Żydów oraz albumy zakładów produkcyjnych getta. Często chorował. Dzięki protekcji Rumkowskiego, którego kilkakrotnie portretował aż do ostatecznej likwidacji getta. W sierpniu 1944 r. został wysiedlony do Oświęcimia-Brzezinki (Auschwitz-Birkenau), gdzie natychmiast zginął w komorze gazowej. Ponad 50 jego prac, w tym wstrząsające sceny z getta, zostało uratowanych przez Nachmana Zonabenda i znajduje się w Żydowskim Instytucie Historycznym w Warszawie, w Muzeum Historii Miasta w Łodzi, w Muzeum Bojowników Getta im. Icchaka Kacenelsona w Bejt Lohamei Haghetaot oraz w Instytucie Yad Vashem w Jerozolimie.

Źróła:
Makowska U., Lejzerowicz Izrael, [w:] Słownik artystów polskich, t. 5, Warszawa 1993 s. 21-22;
Malinowski J., 
Malarstwo i rzeźba Żydów polskich w XIX i XX wieku, Warszawa 2000 s. 284-286, 294, 
    297, 305;
Ładnowska J., 
Żydowska kultura plastyczna, [w:] Żydzi w Łodzi, Łódź [1990] s. 38;
Fuks, Hayim Leyb / Fox, Chaim Leib, 
Lodzh shel ma’ala, Tel Aviv 1972;
Rubin I., 
Żydzi w Łodzi pod niemiecką okupacją 1939-1945, Londyn 1988 s. 510;
The Chronicle of the Łódź Ghetto 1941-1944. Ed. L. Dobrosyzcki, New Haven and London 1984 s. 362.
“Unser einziger Weg ist Arbeit” Das Getto in Łódź 1940-1944, Frankfurt a. Main 1990 s. 47;
Sandel J.: Umgekumene jidysze Kinstler, Warszawa 1957; Chronika szel Geto Lodz, Yad Vashem, Jerusalem 1989 vol. 3;
Lodz Names. List of the Ghetto Inhabitants 1940-1944, vol. 3, Jerusalem 1994 s. 1476.
–  APŁ, Przełożony Starszeństwa Żydów, Encyklopedia getta łódzkiego, sygn. 1103 k. 139.

  • Chaim Leib Fox
  • Translation of section on Izrael Lejzerowicz from Lodzh shel ma’ala, pp. 307-308. 

NB: The first line refers to the works of the ghetto singers and the poet Hirsh Albus, who are profiled in the paragraphs preceding the one devoted to Lejzerowicz.

“Quite other motifs [than the foregoing] can be found in the paintings and last poems of Izrael Lejzerowicz (1902-1944). Lejzerowicz belonged to the group “Toyz Royt” (Red Trump) that included [Aaron] Alperin, [Phinehas] Goldhar, [Eli] Baruchin, [M.] Helman and [Mojzesz] Nelken. He did not want to submit any poems to their publications, just drawings, which were in themselves poetic compositions that decorated the following publications: 
Vegn [Roads], Shveln [Thresholds], Two Together and Toyz Royt [Red Trump]. It was only in the Ghetto that he also became creative in poetry, which like his paintings is full of apocalyptic themes. Lejzerowicz, who all of his life suffered from a deformity and from illness managed, before his deportation to Auschwitz, to immortalize Jewish life in Łódź with great feeling and energy, as befits one of the last artists of Łódź. He, who had always bathed his paintings in mystical light and colour, became in the Ghetto almost a naturalist. As he noted in his writings on this subject: “Let us immortalize the beauty of dying — more than this we do not possess.” Sadly, very few of his literary works have survived, although they stood above the literary creations of others with their profoundly sad tone and mood, just as Izrael Lejzerowicz himself did. In 1946, his last ghetto paintings were found in an abandoned flat in Baluty.”

Translation courtesy Goldie Morgentaler

  • Chaim Leib Fox
  • on Lejzerowicz in Leksikon fun der nayer yidisher literatur, New York, Alveltlekhn Yidishn Kultur-Kongres, 1956-1981, volume 5, columns 132-133:
Lejzerovicz, Izrael, (1902-Summer 1944)
Born in 
Łódź, Poland, the son of a tailor. Fell in his childhood and remained a cripple his whole life. Studied in a kheder, elementary school. Studied painting for a time in the Academy of Arts in Berlin. Member of the Yiddish writers and painters group in Łódź, which published the periodicalToyz Royt (Łódź, 1922-1923), and then began with poems and drawings. Later published poetry, "painterly compositions in words," articles about painting in Łódź periodicals: Vegn (1923) andShveln (1924-1925); der fraytik (Łódź-Warsaw, 1924-1925); nayer volksblat (1939-1923); lodzher togeblat(in the late 1920s), ekstrablat (1926-1927). In the Łódź ghetto he belonged to Miriam Ulianover's writers circle, wrote poetry and satires about the ghetto leaders and did paintings on apocalyptic themes. In 1943 the Nazis deported him to Auschwitz and murdered him. In 1946 a package of his paintings was dug up in a cellar, wrapped up in canvas with the inscription: "Let us immortalize the beauty of dying; we no longer possess anything else."

[Bibliography:]
Hersh Fenster, Undzere farpayniḳṭe ḳinsṭler, Paris, 1951, p. 255.
Bernard Mark, Di umgeḳumene shrayber fun di geṭos un lagern un zeyere ṿerḳ, Warsaw, 1954, pp. 161, 169, 171
Chaim Leib Fox, in Fun noentn over, New York: 1955-1959, v. 3, chapter 3, pp. 272, 274.
[translation: William Gilcher with help from Goldie Morgentaler]

Yiddish original:

לײזעראָװיטשישׂראל, (1902 - זומער 1944)
געב' אין לאָדזש פּוילןזון פֿון אַ שנײַדער. יונגערהײט געפֿאַלן און געבליבן אויפֿן גאַנצן לעבן אַ בעל-מוםגעלערנט אין חדרפֿאָלקסשול. אַ צײַט שטודירט מאָלערײַ אין דער בערלינער קונסט-אַקאַדעמיע. מיטגליד פֿון דער לאָדזשער ייִדישער שרײַבער- און מאָלער-גרופּע, וואָם חאָט אַרויםגעגעבן די צײש טויז רויט (לאָדזש, 1923-1922), און דאָרט דעביוטירט מיט לידער און צײכענונגען. שפּעטער געדרוקט לידער, "מאָלערישע קאָמפּאָזיציעם אין וואָרט",  אַרטיקלען װעגן מאָלערײַ אין די לאָדזשערוועגן (1923) און שוועלן (1925-1924); דער פֿרײַטיק )לאָדזש-װאַרשע, (1925-1924; נײַער פֿאָלקסבלאַט (1939-1923); לאָדזשער טאָגעבלאַט (סוף 20ער יאָרן), עקסטראַבלאַט (1927-1926). אין לאָדזשער געטאָ געהערט צו מרים אולינאָװערס  שרײַבער-קרײַז, געשריבן לידער און סאַטירעס אויף די געטאָ-מושלים און געמאָלן בילדער אויף אַפּאָקאַליפּטישע טעמעס. 1943 האָבן אים די נאַציס אַװעקגעשיקט קײן אוישװיץ און דאָדטן אומגעבראַכט. 1946 האָט מען אין אַ קעלער אויםגעגראָבן ל'-ס בילדער און כּתבֿים, װאָם זײַגען געװען פֿאַרפּאַקט אין אַ לײַװנט מיט דער 
אויפֿשריפֿט" :לאָמיר פֿאַראײביקן די שײנקײט פֿון פֿאַרגײן -- און מער װי דאָס פֿאַרמאָגן מיר שוין נישט".

ח. פֿענסטעראונזערע פֿאַרפּײַניקטע קינסטלער, פּאַריז, 1951 ז' 255
ב. מאַרקאומגעקומענע שרײַבער פֿון די געטאָס און לאַגערן, װאַרשע, 1954, זז' 161, 169, 171; 
ח. ל. פֿוקס, פּון נאָענטן עבֿר, ב' 3, ג"י, 1957, זז' 274 ,272.


  • Urszula Makowska in the standard multi-volume biographical dictionary of Polish artists, Słownik Artystów Polskich i obcych w Polsce Działających (Zmarłych przed 1966 R.), Warszawa: Wydawnictwo KRAG, 1993. Volume 5, pp. 21-22.

    Lejzerowicz Izrael, malarz. ur. ok. 1900 Łódź, zm. 1943 lub sierpień 1944 obóz zagłady Oswiecim-Brzezinka, syn krawca. Studiował jakoby w Rzymie i Berlinie. Mieszkał i tworzył w Łodzi. Malował głównie portrety i kompozycje figuralne, nieraz o charakterze symbolicznym:
    Mnich wśród gotyckiej architektury, Uczta sobotnia, Szara procesja; podobno zajmował się też twórczością poetycką i krytyką artystyczna. Podczas pobytu w getcie szkicował wiele scen z życia codziennego i wykonywał portrety, m.in. kilkakrotnie portretował swego protektora i opiekuna Chaima Rumkowskiego, przewodniczącego tamtejszego Judenratu.

    L. brał udział w wystawach w Lodzi: 1921 sztuki żydowskiej (
    Inkwizytor, Ja wiem, Męczennik), 1924 art. łódzkich w Miejskiej Galerii Sztuki, 1926 i 1927 tamże z nowo utworzonym Stow. Artyst. (St.-Art.). Z grupa ta wystawił w 1930 w TPSP w Krakowie obrazy ol. Portret, 2 Autoportrety, Babka, Matka, 2 Studia oraz pastele Autoportret, Pieśń żałobna, Wiatr i szkic tuszem.

    Muz. Sztuki Łódź – 
    Autoportret, ol., ok. 1930, Studium głowy, rys. oł. sygn., 1928; Żyd. Instytut Hist. Warszawa – Portret mężczyzny, ol., sygn., 1930, Portret mężczyzny, ol. dykta, Chaim Rumkowski na tle getta w Łodzi, ol., teka ponad 50 rys.: portrety (m.in. Chłopiec w czapce, węgiel, 1931, Dr Alterman z córeczką, sangwina, przed 1939, Chaim Rumkowski, 2 wersje, węgiel i sangwina,Autoportret, węgiel), sceny z getta (m.in. Ludzie z noszami, Wywóz fekaliów, oba pastele), widoki (m.in. Most w getcie, 2 wersje, sangwina i pastel, Magazyn w kościele NMP w Łodzi, pastel), projekty ilustracji lub dekoracji (Skrzypek, Król Dawid, oba pastele), wiele prac sygn.. i dat. 1940-43, 2 szkicowniki z getta i notatki; Kibuc Bojowników Getta, Beit Lohamei Haghetaot, Izrael – Scena z getta, pastel, sygn., 1941, Grupa kobiet w getcie, sangwina, sygn., 1942, Lament, węgiel. 

    Kat. wystawy sztuki żyd. zorganizowanej przez wyd. „Tel Awiw” w Łodzi, Łódź 1921. – Tygodnik Ilustrowany, 1924 półr. I, Nr. 24 (14 czerwca 1924), s. 399. – Sztuki Piękne, III, 1926/27, s. 240; VI, 1930, s. 59. – Katalog działu sztuki, Muzeum Miejskie Historii i Sztuki w Łodzi imienia J. I K. Bartoszewiczów, Łódź 1930, poz. 71, 75, 78, 109-110. – Katalog Wystawy zrzeszenia Bractwa św.Łukasza oraz zrzeszenia Start, TPSP, Kr. 1930. – Vollmer, Hans. [t. 6 (Sandel J.)]. Allgemeines Lexikon der bildenden Künstler des XX. Jahrhunderts. T. 1-6. Leipzig: E.A. Seemann, 1953-62. –Memorial Exhibition. Jewish Artists who Perished in the Holocaust, The Tel Aviv Museum, Tel Aviv 1968. – Biul. ZPAP, [1970] nr specjalny, oprac. Jaworska J. – Polskie życie artystyczne w latach 1915-1939 / praca zbiorowa pod red. Aleksandra Wojciechowskiego. Wrocław: Zakład Narodowy im. Ossolińskich, 1974. – Ładnowska J., Plastyka łódzka w l. 1918-28, [w:] Sztuka łódzka,  W. 1977, s. 111. – Łukaszewicz, Piotr, Malinowski Jerzy, Ekspresjonizm w sztuce polskiej, Muzeum Narodowe w Wrocławiu, Wrocław, 1980. – Wystawa dziel artystów żyd. 1918-39, BWA Olsztyn, Olsztyn 1987. – Żydzi-Polscy, MNK, Kr. 1989 (kat.). – Ładnowska J., Żyd. kultura plastyczna w Łodzi, [w:] Żydzi w Łodzi, Łódź 1990, s. 38.

English translation of text except for bibliography:
Lejzerowicz Izrael, painter. born ca. 1900, died 1943 or August 1944, death camp Auschwitz-Birkenau, the son of a tailor. May have studied in Rome and Berlin. He lived and worked in Łódź. He mainly painted portraits and figurative compositions, often of a symbolic nature: Monk among Gothic Architecture, Sabbath Feast, Gray Procession. He is also thought to have written poetry and art criticism. During the ghetto period, he sketched many scenes of everyday life and did portraits, including repeated portraits of his patron and protector, Chaim Rumkowski, chairman of the local Jewish Council. Lejzerowicz took part in exhibitions in Łódź: 1921 Jewish Art (Inquisitor, I Know, Martyr), 1924 Łódź Artists, City Art Gallery, 1926, and 1927 at the same location with the newly created Association of Artists “St.-Art”. The group staged an exhibition of oil paintings in 1930 at Krakow’s Society of Friends of Fine Arts (Towarzystwo Przyjaciół Sztuk Pięknych w Krakowie or TPSP). Portrait, 2 Self-Portraits, Grandmother, Mother, 2 Studies and a pastelSelf-PortraitSong of Mourning, Wind, and an ink sketch. Muzeum Sztuki Łódź – Self-Portrait, oil, ca. 1930, Study of a Head, drawing, signed, 1928; Jewish Historical Institute Warsaw – Portrait of a Man, oil, circa 1930, Portrait of a Man, oil on board, Chaim Rumkowski in the Ghetto of Lodz, oil, portfolio of more than 50 figures: portraits (including Boy in Cap, charcoal, 1931, Dr. Alterman and Daughter, sanguine, before 1939, Chaim Rumkowski, 2 versions, coal and sanguine, Self Portrait, charcoal), scenes from the ghetto (including People with Stretchers, Sewage Cart Haulers, both pastels), views (including Bridge in the Ghetto, 2 versions, sanguine and pastel, Warehouse in St. Mary’s Church, Łódź, pastel), illustration or decorative projects (Fiddler, King David, both pastels), many works signed and dated 1940-1943, 2 sketchbooks of the ghetto and notes; Ghetto Fighters’ House, Beit Lohamei Haghetaot, Israel – Scene from the Ghetto, pastel, signed, 1941, Group of Women in the Ghetto, sanguine, signed, 1942, Lament, charcoal.

  • Piątkowska, Renata. “Lejzerowicz Izrael,” in a dictionary of Jewish life in Poland, Polski słownik judaistyczny: dzieje - kultura - religia – ludzie, edited by Zofia Borzymińska and Rafał Żebrowski. Warsaw: Wydawn. Prószyński i S-ka, 2003, volume 2, pp. 27-28. 

Lejzerowicz Izrael (1900 [1902] Łódź – 1944 Oświęcim) – malarz, grafik, krytyk artystyczny, poeta współzałożyciel i członek ugrupowania “Start”. Pochodził z rodziny ubogiego łódz. krawca. Według niepotwierdzonych informacji studiował w Rzymie i w akademii sztuk pięknych w Berlinie. Debiutował w Łodzi w 1921 (na Wystawie Sztuki Żydowskiej) i tam najczęściej także potem wystawiał swe prace (1924, 1925, 1926, 1927); uczestniczył również w wystawie krak. TPSP (1930). Malował głównie portrety (
Babka, Matka), autoportrety i kompozycje figuralne, nieraz o charakterze symbolicznym (Uczta sobotnia [Uczta sederowa?],Mnich wśród gotyckiej architektury, Głodujący [Lament], Arcykapłan, Chrystus). Artysta sięgał także do tematyki żyd. (Szara procesja). Jego prace charakteryzuje spokojna, statyczna kompozycja i ciemna stonowana kolorystyka. W czasie II wojny świat. Lejzerowicz przebywał w getcie łódzkim. Z tego okr. zachowało się kilkadziesiąt jego rysunków i pasteli, dokumentujących życie w getcie oraz portrety Przełożonego Starszeństwa Żydów (por. Judenrat) w Łodzi, Ch. Rumkowskiego. W czasie ostatecznej likwidacji getta, latem 1944, Lejzerowicz został deportowany do obozu zagłady w Oświęcimiu, gdzie zginął. RP [Renata Piątkowska]

English translation:
Lejzerowicz, Izrael (1900 [1902] Łódź - 1944 Auschwitz) - painter, graphic artist, art critic, poet, co-founder and member of the "Start" group. He came from a poor Łódź tailor’s family. According to unconfirmed information, he studied in Rome and at the Academy of Fine Arts in Berlin. He made his debut in Łódź in 1921 (at the Exhibition of Jewish Art), and most often exhibited his works there (1924, 1925, 1926, 1927). He also participated in an exhibition at the TPSP in Kraków (1930). He painted mainly portraits (
Grandmother, Mother), self-portraits, and figure compositions, often of a symbolic nature (Sabbath Meal [Seder?], Monk in Gothic Architecture, Starving [Lament], the High Priest, Christ). His work also extended to Jewish themes (Gray Procession). His work is characterized by calm, static composition and dark-toned colors. During World War II Lejzerowicz lived in the Łódź ghetto. From this period, dozens of his drawings and pastels have survived, documenting life in the ghetto, along with portraits of Chaim Rumkowski, the Eldest of the Jews (head of the Judenrat) in Łódź. During the final liquidation of the ghetto in the summer of 1944, Lejzerowicz was deported to the Auschwitz death camp where he died.

  • Józef Sandel in Vollmer, Hans, Allgemeines Lexikon der bildenden Künstler des XX. Jahrhunderts. Leipzig: E.A. Seemann, 1953-62, volume 6, page 200:

Lejzerowicz, Izrael, poln. Maler u. Graph., * um 1900 Łódź, umgekommen 1944 im Auschwitzer Todeslager.
    Stud. einige Zeit in Rom. Vorwiegend Porträtist. Schuf im Ghetto Litzmannstadt zahlr. Zeichngn mit Szenen aus d. Ghettoleben.
    Lit.: Sandel, I. – Liṭerarishe bleṭer, 9.8.1926. - Biuletyn Żydowskiego Inst. Hist., März 1950. – Kat.: Żydowska Wystawa Sztuki, Salon Jesienny, Warschau 1922; Muz. Miejskie Hist. i. Sztuki im J. i. K. Bartoszewiczów, Łódź 1930.

English translation:
Lejzerowicz, Izrael, Polish painter and graphic artist. Born ca. 1900 in Łódź, perished in the Auschwitz death camp.
    Studied for some time in Rome. Chiefly a portraitist. In the Litzmannstadt Ghetto created numerous drawings with scenes of ghetto life.