Institute News

Artist and Holocaust Survivor, Kalman Aron passes away at 93

USC Shoah Foundation is saddened to learn about the passing of Kalman Aron, a Holocaust survivor who created in paint the horrors he witnessed during World War II. He died on Feb. 24. He was 93.

Born in Latvia Sept. 14, 1924, Aron showed an early talent for art. Both his parents were killed by German troops shortly after they invaded his home country in 1941.

He survived several concentration camps by trading sketches to German guards for food. After the war, he wound up in Los Angeles, and became a sought-after artist. In addition to his landscapes, portraits and commissions from people like Ronald Reagan, he often returned to his wartime experience in his work.

In a painting he described when he gave testimony to USC Shoah Foundation in 1994, a mother clings to her child so tightly, they almost become one person.

“The idea was showing the anxiety of the mother trying to run away from the ghetto or camp and the child is glued to her and she wouldn’t let go,” he said in his interview. “I’ve seen some of the mothers and children at the camps where they were trying to hold onto them as long as they could and wouldn’t let go, no matter what punishment they had to take.”

A book about his life, “Into the Light: The Healing Art of Kalman Aron,” by Susan Beilby Magee was published in 2012.