Haas, Leo

BORN 15 Apr 1901, Troppau, Böhmen - DIED 13 Aug 1983, Berlin
BIRTH NAME Haas, Leopold
GRAVE LOCATION Berlin: Städtischer Zentralfriedhof Friedrichsfelde, Gudrunstrasse, Lichtenberg (8)

Leo Haas studied piano and voice and also painting. He went to Karlsruhe to study art with the financial help of a relative from the USA. After his patron died he had to suppport himself by working as a musician in bars and restaurants. In 1921 he went to Berlin, where he studied under Emil Orlik. He also became Orlik's assistant.

In 1923 he went to Paris and from there to Albi, where he studied the work of Toulouse-Lautrec. He moved on to Arles because of Van Gogh and also visited Marseilles. In 1924 he moved to Vienna to work as a caricaturist. In 1926 he returned to Opava where he worked in adversiting. In 1929 he married Sophie Hermann and he set up as a portrait painter to support his family. In 1937 his work was classified as degenerate art and in 1938 he moved to his wife's parents in Ostrava. In 1939 he was sent to a camp in Nisko, where he worked as a wagon driver and he painted portraits of SS soldiers.

When the camp was dismantled he returned to his father and sister in Ostrava and separated from his wife who wanted to flee further. Around this time he met Erna Davidovitc and she became his second wife around 1941. He was deported to Theresienstadt with his family and there he was separated from his wife. In 1944 he was transferred to Auschwitz as a political prisoner, but his artistic talents helped him and he produced sketches for Mengele. In November 1944 he was transferred to Sachsenhausen. In 1945 he was transported to Mauthausen and then to Ebensee. After the war he returned to Theresienstadt, where he retrieved 400 works of art that he had hidden. Erna had also survived the war and they settled in Prague.

But Erna was weakened by medicals experiments conducted on her in Auschwitz and she died in 1955. After her death he moved to East Berlin, where he married his third wife Ingeborg Hermann. He worked for the cartoon magazine Eulenspiegel and designed movie sets for DEFA. In 1981 an exhibition was held in his honour in his birthplace Klatovy. In 1983 he died in Berlin.


The grave of Leo Haas at the Städtischer Zentralfriedhof Friedrichsfelde, Berlin.
Picture by Androom (07 Aug 2019)


• Mende, Hans-Jürgen, Lexicon Berliner Grabstätten, Haude & Spener, 2006

Haase, Friedrich

Published: 21 Jun 2020
Last update: 21 Jun 2020