Nathan Rapoport (1911 - 1987 )

Nathan Rapoport was born in Warsaw, Poland in 1911. A Jewish sculptor, Rapoport escaped to the Soviet Union when the Nazis stormed into Poland. The Soviets saw his talent and gave him a studio where he started making statues. During the first World War, however, he was forced to work as a manual laborer around the Soviet Union.(1)

After the war, Rapoport returned to Poland to study at the Warsaw Academy of Art. He received a scholarship in 1936 to study in Italy and France. In Paris, he created art that was influenced by cubism, expressionism, and abstraction. In Italy his abilities as a sculptor progressed rapidly. Rapoport immigrated to the United States in 1950, where he lived in New York until he passed away in 1987.(1)

(Shannon Marie Oeser, Spring 2006)

Liberation (Holocaust Memorial)

Liberation (Holocaust Memorial), 1987, bronze, Liberty State Park, Jersey City. Photograph © Walter Choroszewski. Used with permission of the photographer.

Nathan Rapoport created “Liberation,” a memorial to the Holocaust, in 1984. Cast in bronze, this over-lifesize figural group is located in Liberty State Park, Jersey City. It depicts a soldier carrying a survivor out of a Nazi concentration camp. Although created in 1984 – three years before the artist’s death – its style is reminiscent of the slightly stylized artwork of the 1930s and 1940s.

Rapoport’s most famous work of art is The Wall of Remembrance, which is located in Warsaw, Poland. It is better known as the Warsaw Ghetto Memorial, because it was created on the site of a Jewish ghetto that was destroyed by the Nazis on Passover in 1943. The leader of the Jews was Mordechai Anielewicz, who was later portrayed in another sculpture by Rapoport.

On April 19, 1988, the 45th anniversary of the destruction of the Warsaw Ghetto, a Memory Lane was marked out through the former Warsaw Ghetto. In the courtyard where this monument is located, as well as a lot of other places along Memory Lane, there are black marble stones like gravestones in a symbolic cemetery, honoring those who died in the ghetto and in the extermination camps.(2) The front of the memorial shows some of the Jewish fighters, with Anielewicz in the front holding a hand grenade. Grenades were really the only weapon available to the Jews. The back of the memorial shows a line of Jewish prisoners marching to their death in a concentration camp.(3)


(1,3) Warsaw Ghetto Memorial website:

(2) Gilbert, Martin. (1987). The Holocaust. Random: New York, 317-324.

Additional references:

Hirsh Gallery web site (see link below).

Yad-Vashem web site (see link below).

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