University of Minnesota
Center for Holocaust & Genocide Studies
chgs@umn.edu
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CHGS

No Exit (48" x 30")

No ExitArtist's Comment

Some German Jews informed of their deportation could not face the trial and committed suicide. In Mannheim, out of 2500 deportees, 10 committed suicide. In Baden-Baden with scarcely 100 community members, 10 killed themselves. More suicides occurred during their transport to an unknown destination.

Most of these cases of suicide involved almost exclusively German Jews who had moved away from Judaism, or had been baptized, or had become atheists. The Nuremberg Laws issued September 1935 returned them again to Judaism, they who had not wanted to be Jews.

Docent Guide

Between 1933 and 1939 exactly half of Germany's Jews left the country, reducing the Jewish population from 500 000 to about 300 000.  But among those 300 000 who stayed in Germany until Jewish emigration was banned in 1941, there remained the basic hope that the situation would improve. When Jewish schools were closed, they organized clandestine classes. When university courses were closed to Jewish students, banned Jewish professors taught them in secret. When synagogues were closed, prayer groups sprang up in private homes and basements.

Suicides, however, rose as the true nature of Nazi race policy presented itself and increased markedly after November 9/10, 1938, Kristallnacht in Germany and Austria. There were ten recorded suicides in Nuremberg on November 10.  In Vienna, an estimated 47,000 of the city's 176,000 Jewish population was reduced to poverty. In four months after the Anschuluss,  the number of Jewish suicides in Vienna alone was computed as about 7000.Hirschberger's painting is a terse comment on the fate of such Jews, sometimes really converts to Christianity, who chose suicide. The German-Jewish suicide rate in the 1930s was the highest in the world. In this painting, an assimilated appearing Jew holding a Jewish star necklace decides to take his life with a gun.

Hirschberger's painting is a terse comment on the fate of such Jews, sometimes really converts to Christianity, who chose suicide. The German-Jewish suicide rate in the 1930s was the highest in the world. In this painting, an assimilated appearing Jew holding a Jewish star necklace decides to take his life with a gun.

The title of the painting may have been inspired by the famous existentialist play by Jean Paul Sartre, NO EXIT.