The ceremony to transfer the painting Freedom! by Evsey Moiseenko to the exhibition at Yad Vashem, Israel’s national memorial to the victims and heroes of the Holocaust, took place in Jerusalem. The painting, on loan form Art Russe Foundation, was presented by its founder Andrey Filatov, to the museum for use in a permanent exhibition.

Created in 1962, Freedom! is a reflection of the personal experience of Evsey Moiseenko, a master of the Leningrad school of painting, who was held in Nazi concentration camps for more than three years during World War II. The painting depicts a gaunt man, walking with open arms towards the light from the front door and leaving the bars behind him. The man is exhausted but eager to live. He has conquered death.

Evsey Moiseenko is a People's Artist of the USSR, member of the Academy of Arts of the USSR, Hero of Socialist Labor, winner of the Lenin Prize and the State Prize of the USSR. In July 1941, interrupting his training at the Academy of Arts in Leningrad, he volunteered for the front, was taken prisoner during the Battle of Leningrad, and spent more than three years in Nazi concentration camps in Poland and Germany. He made three attempts to escape, but was recaptured each time.

He was liberated from the Altengrabow camp by the US troops in April 1945. Moiseenko then returned to the front and fought with the 3rd Cavalry Corps of the Guard until the end of the war. Following demobilization in the fall of 1945, the artist resumed his studies at the Academy. The psychological experience of the war years formed the artist’s unique style, characterised by a poignant emotional depth and a lively and dynamic palette, which made Moiseenko a foremost master of the Leningrad school of painting. Freedom! is one of the artist’s nine works of the military series, entitled We’ll Not Forget.

The painting is transferred to the Yad Vashem Memorial free of charge for a period of 15 years and will be part of the permanent exhibition.

Curator of Yad Vashem's Art Department Eliad Moreh-Rosenberg said: “We are grateful for the painting Freedom! by the Russian artist Evsey Moiseenko, kindly offered to our museum by Mr. Filatov. Created by a representative of the Leningrad school of painting and a former prisoner of war, it belongs to the works of Russian artists who depicted with incredible accuracy the crimes of Nazism and the Holocaust of the Jewish people”.

Founder of Art Russe Andrey Filatov for his part said: “26 million victims is the price paid by the Soviet Union for victory in World War II. The theme of World War II, one of the most tragic pages in the history of Russia, has had a huge impact on the work of several generations of Soviet artists. The works of those who directly witnessed the war and went through its spiritual and physical trials are particularly valuable.

Freedom! by Evsey Moiseenko is a very personal work of an outstanding artist. It shows that the spirit of man, the desire for freedom is stronger than the most terrible ordeal. Last year, this painting was shown at the Saatchi Gallery in London on the occasion of the Art Russe exhibition dedicated to the 70th anniversary of the victory over fascism, as well as at the exhibition “Art Russe Collection of Russian and Soviet Art of the Twentieth Century: War and Peace” in Abu Dhabi. It will now be exhibited in Jerusalem. I am very grateful for the opportunity to exhibit this painting at Yad Vashem, this unique and tragic place that houses the memory and testimony of millions of victims of Nazism.”

Image title

Evsey Moiseenko. “Freedom!”. 1962, 103 × 150 cm