Erna Friedlander’s picture of the refugees

Erna Friedlander and her husband Martin Friedlander came to Hong Kong in April 1939, having previously escaped Germany for Italy. Soon after his arrival in the colony, Martin became involved with the Jewish Refugee Society (JRS) where he met Monia Talan, the JRS’ secretary, who hired him at American Lloyd Shipping. Erna was a talented impressionistic painter who had trained in Paris. She became involved in Hong Kong’s small artistic community and was also employed by the Working Artist’s Guild, where she gave art lessons and frequently exhibited her work. While in Hong Kong she painted ‘The Refugee’, which depicts a ‘grey, beaten, exhausted’ refugee being comforted by a stranger. Martin was sadly killed during the Japanese invasion of Hong Kong, and is buried at the Jewish Cemetery in Happy Valley. After the war, Erna left Hong Kong for England. She died in New York in 1979 at the age of 89. 

Timeline Hongkong

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