Felka Platek and Felix Nussbaum
Their paths through life met in Berlin
Many of Felix Nussbaum’s paintings and drawings have survived. They are from his early years in Berlin. Then there are the works created while fleeing the Nazis. In Italy and above all in Brussels. Most of the pictures are on show in Osnabrück, in the Felix Nussbaum Haus. This was his native town. There are far fewer surviving pictures by his wife Felka Platek, born in Warsaw.
Letters, a diary, descriptions – all of these signs of the lives of the two artists have disappeared. The poet and writer Christoph Heubner gives Felix Nussbaum and Felka Platek the voices that can no longer be heard. He has created a fictitious diary, in which each of them independently tells about their childhood and youth in an atmosphere of Jewish security in Osnabrück and Warsaw, before their paths meet in Berlin to become one, before this path ends in the gas chambers of Auschwitz in 1945.
Christoph Heubner has sensitively taken up the thread of the known stations in their lives and created a poetic, haunting and powerfully eloquent collage of scenes of riveting intensity. The diary was read for a second time in a staged reading at the Permanent Representation of Lower Saxony within the context of remembrance surrounding 27 January 1945. And again, it was performed by Eva-Maria Kurz and Gerd Grasse, two renowned actors, whose gentle renderings breathed life into Felka and Felix.
The audience is deeply moved with empathy, asks about traces of the couple in Berlin. None. But, at 23 Xantener Strasse in Wilmersdorf there is a remembrance plaque. From 1928 to 1932, Felix Nussbaum had his studio in the house that stood here. In Italy, already fleeing, the couple heard that the studio had burned out. Arson. All of the paintings were destroyed.
One of the other surviving works is on show until 3 April in the exhibition: Art from the Holocaust – 100 Works from the Yad Vashem Collection, at the Museum of German History in Berlin. (see here)