Ella Liebermann-Shiber (1927, Berlin - 1998, Israel), German-born Israeli artist who survived internment in the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp and documented her experiences in her artwork.
Ella Liebermann - Shiber was born in Berlin in 1927, the daughter of Yehoshua and Rosa Liebermann. In 1938, her family relocated to Bedzin, Poland. Upon the outbreak of the war, they were interned in the ghetto. In August 1943, Bedzin was declared “Judenrein” [German: cleansed of Jews] and the family was sent on a transport to the Auschwitz - Birkenau camp. Her father and brother were taken to their deaths, while her life was spared along with her mother’s, due to Ella’s artistic talent. She was put to work by the Nazis as a portrait artist.
In January 1945, as Soviet forces approached the Auschwitz camp, Ella and her mother were sent on a death march to Germany, where they were interned in the Neustadt camp, a subcamp of Ravensbrueck. They were liberated there in May 1945.
Ella Liebermann married Emanuel Shiber in Poland in 1946, and the couple moved westward assisted by Ha - Bricha, the organization aiding Jews emigrating from Eastern Europe on their way to Mandatory Palestine. They sailed on the illegal immigration ship “Ben Hecht” that was turned back from the shores of Palestine to Cyprus in March 1947. In a detention camp there, Ella was among the many artists taking part in the art courses organized by Naftali Bezem of Jerusalem’s “Bezalel” Academy. The participants published an album, “In the Cyprus Exile” [Hebrew title: Be - Gerush Kafrisin], with 26 linocut prints depicting daily life in the camp.
After 13 months of internment, the Shibers were released; in April 1948 they arrived in Haifa.
During the years 1979 - 1983, Ella Liebermann - Shiber studied art at the University of Haifa, in workshops in painting, graphics, and sculpture. Several years after her liberation from the camps in Poland and Germany, she had begun to produce sketches and descriptions depicting life and death in the camps. These recollections formed a series of 93 artworks she titled “On the Edge of the Abyss” ( חיים על קו הקץ), exhibited in the Ghetto Fighters’ House museum and donated to its art collection. Ella Liebermann - Shiber regarded her dealing with these subjects in her artworks not only a documentation of harsh experiences and events, but also the beginnning of a rehabilitative process.
Ella Liebermann - Shiber died in 1998 following a severe illness.
- Avi Hurwitz (ed.), On the Edge of the Abyss (Hayyim al Qav ha-Qetz). Israel: Ghetto Fighters' House, 1992, 1994, 1997. Bilingual Hebrew-English edition; illustrated.