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Si Lewen

»When I came back from the war itself, I was just disgusted, absolutely disgusted with everything. In the beginning I really, I couldn’t shake hands with Germans. The question always was, where were you during the war and all this. You know, It really wasn’t... I almost would have wished that, you know, they would have killed them all, you know. It is just my growing rationalisation that’s somehow, you know, I saved German lives, too. I saved lives, you know, and I feel good about it.«


Si Lewen was born in Lublin, Poland in 1918. Two years later his family moves to Berlin. When Hitler comes to power in 1933, the fourteen year old Si lewen decides to leave Germany. Against his parents’ objections he leaves for France with his elder brother. From there they prepare to emigrate to Palestine but due to a fortunate incident his family receives visa for the USA. Under normal circumstances the immigration for Polish Jews would not have been possible. Si arrives in New York in 1935 where he enrols at art school and resumes his career as an artist.

In 1942 he volunteers for the U.S. Army and receives special training at Camp Ritchie. He arrives in France shortly after the invasion and is assigned to a special task. With a loudspeaker car he is sent directly to the frontlines where he tries to talk German soldiers into surrendering. It is a dangerous job, which challenges him both mentally and physically and causes his total breakdown at the end of the war.

After his return to the USA in 1945 Si becomes a sought after artist. He sells his paintings, publishes books and teaches art until. In 1985 he decides never to sell a painting again. Today Si Lewen lives in New Paltz, New York.