Edith Birkin née Hofmann (1927-2018) was a Jewish artist and writer. Born in Prague, she spent her later years in Britain and was a vocal survivor of the Holocaust.
In 1941, aged 14, she was sent with her family to the Lodz Jewish ghetto in Poland. Her parents died within their first year there. When the Lodz ghetto was liquidated in 1944, Birkin was sent to the concentration camp at Auschwitz, before being selected for slave labour and sent to another camp in eastern Germany. In January 1945, with the Russians now advancing into Germany, the labourers were sent on a death march across Germany to Bavaria, where they were loaded onto cattle trucks. After a week in crowded conditions, Birkin arrived in Bergen-Belsen on 15 March 1945. She was liberated a month later. She returned to Prague at the end of the war to discover that none of her family had survived.
In 1946, Birkin moved to England, where she became a teacher and went on to adopt three children. In the 1970's she studied A-level History of Modern Art and went on to take a course in fine art. She has painted a series of paintings in response to her experiences and also written a book of poems titled The Last Goodbye. While her Holocaust paintings reflect the "sense of loneliness or isolation experienced by so many", she was also heavily influenced artistically by her friendship with the late artist John Cherrington (1931-2015). This connection can be seen in the works presented here, from her private studio collection.
Her Holocaust paintings have been donated by her family to relevant institutions around the world. Her work can also be found in the collection at the Imperial War Museum, London, Ben Uri Gallery & Museum, Birmingham Museums Trust and Hereford Museum & Art Gallery.
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