Tibor Spitz

Last updated
Tibor Spitz
Born1929 (age 9192)

Tibor Spitz (born 1929) is a Slovak-born artist and a Holocaust survivor. After escaping from communist Czechoslovakia to the West he lived and worked in Canada and the United States. He currently resides in Kingston, New York.



In 1929, Tibor Spitz was born in a small town called Dolný Kubín in the high mountains of northern Slovakia, that time part of Czechoslovakia. [1] His father was a cantor for the Jewish community and mother was a teacher. He survived Holocaust at age 15, studied chemistry in Prague and in 1968 escaped to the West to live in Canada and later in the United States. After his career as a scientist, he became a professional artist and lecturer on Holocaust.

Tibor Spitz was born in a Slovak part of Czechoslovakia that kept changing from democracy to a fascist Nazi regime followed by the Soviet style communism. Because of his Jewish origin, between the ages 10 to 15 he was not allowed to attend public schools and for three years he was doomed to be either murdered on the spot or deported to a death camp in nearby Poland. He was 12 when almost all his deported relatives vanished without a trace in Nazi Death & Labor camps. After merely surviving the Nazi era he wanted to study art as did his older brother. However, the already established communist regime arranged for him to study chemistry. After graduations he worked as an engineer, Ph.D. scientist and glass technology expert in Czechoslovak glass industry Research and development institutions. In 1968 he was returning to complete his two years assignment in Cuban glass industry when he and his wife Noemi (during an airplane refueling stop in Canada) escaped to the West. Nine years later they moved from Canada to the United States. 30 years in glass industry had followed 14 years working as a scientist developing hi-tech magnetic recording heads for computers and VCRs.

Suppressed memories of his tragic childhood required an outlet only art could fully provide. Communist country where he lived for two decades would not tolerate it, while political freedoms in the West fully supported his free artistic expressions. Next to his scientific and technical profession Tibor Spitz became simultaneously an active artist as well. The unusually creative artistic environment in both Kingston and nearby Woodstock, New York gradually turned him into a professional artist. As his interest in art continued growing, besides painting he has been also sculpting, making ceramics, wood carvings and wood burnings. When he discovered that impressionists have not fully exhausted all their artistic possibilities, his painting techniques gradually gravitated toward pointillism and neo-impressionism. Besides initial hounding faces and figurative scenes associated with Holocaust, Judaism and Jewish mystical teachings Kabbalah, he also added fishing scenes, musicians, horses, still-life and landscapes. College courses as well as directions from his mentor Meyer Lieberman were great help in developing his artistic skills.

His art was exhibited in many solo and group shows. Galleries, museums, schools, colleges as well as cultural, scientific, religious and public institutions were interested in both his presentations and exhibitions. During last decades, solo exhibitions of his art were held numerous times in New York State, New Jersey, Canada, in his native Slovakia, in Prague, Art Society of Kingston, HCT, Gallery SEVEN21 and many others.

In 1997 an American art historian Matthew Baigell included his biography and reproduction of his painting in his book "Jewish-American artists and the Holocaust". In 2008 a Canadian drama director V. Toth used his paintings in her book "Shalom" issued in both Canada. His achievements were described in dozens of media reports published in several countries. A documentary movie titled "TIBOR SPITZ - Portraits of successful Slovaks abroad" (2015) was shown in both Slovakia, Canada and on Slovak Television.

Related Research Articles

Michael Dov Weissmandl

Michael Dov Weissmandl was an Orthodox rabbi who became known for his efforts to save the Jews of Slovakia from extermination at the hands of the Nazis during the Holocaust. He was one of the leaders of the Bratislava Working Group, an underground organization that attempted to save Slovak Jews and other European Jews from deportation to death camps.

Rescue of Jews during the Holocaust

During World War II, some individuals and groups helped Jews and others escape the Holocaust conducted by Nazi Germany. A well-known example is Oskar Schindler, one of thousands who have been so recognized.

<i>Kindertransport</i> Organised rescue of Jewish children during the Holocaust

The Kindertransport was an organised rescue effort that took place during the nine months prior to the outbreak of the Second World War. The United Kingdom took in nearly 10,000 predominantly Jewish children from Nazi Germany, Nazi-occupied Austria, Czechoslovakia and Poland, and the Free City of Danzig. The children were placed in British foster homes, hostels, schools and farms. Often they were the only members of their families who survived the Holocaust. The programme was supported, publicised and encouraged by the British government. Importantly the British government waived all those visa immigration requirements which were not within the ability of the British Jewish community to fulfil. The British government put no number limit on the programme – it was the start of World War II that brought the programme to an end, at which time about 10,000 kindertransport children had been brought to the United Kingdom.

Jan Saudek

Jan Saudek is an art photographer and painter. He and his twin brother Kaja Saudek are holocaust survivors.

Alfréd Wetzler Auschwitz escapee, reported on ongoing Holocaust

Alfréd Israel Wetzler, who wrote under the alias Jozef Lánik, was a Slovak Jew. He is known for escaping from Auschwitz concentration camp and co-writing the Vrba-Wetzler Report.

There is a wide range of ways in which people have represented the Holocaust in popular culture.

Jewish resistance in German-occupied Europe Various forms of resistance conducted by Jews against Nazi occupation regimes

Jewish resistance under Nazi rule took various forms of organized underground activities conducted against German occupation regimes in Europe by Jews during World War II. According to historian Yehuda Bauer, Jewish resistance was defined as actions that were taken against all laws and actions acted by Germans. The term is particularly connected with the Holocaust and includes a multitude of different social responses by those oppressed, as well as both passive and armed resistance conducted by Jews themselves.

Rudolf Vrba Slovak-Jewish Auschwitz escapee, Canadian biochemist

Rudolf "Rudi" Vrba was a Slovak-Jewish biochemist who, as a teenager in 1942, was deported to the Auschwitz concentration camp in German-occupied Poland. He became known for having escaped from the camp in April 1944, at the height of the Holocaust, and for having co-written a detailed report about the mass murder that was taking place there. Distribution of the report by George Mantello in Switzerland is credited with having halted the mass deportation of Hungary's Jews to Auschwitz in July 1944, saving more than 200,000 lives. After the war Vrba trained as a biochemist, working mostly in England and Canada.

History of the Jews in Slovakia

The history of the Jews in Slovakia goes back to the 11th century, when the first Jews settled in the area.

History of the Jews in the Czech lands

The history of the Jews in the Czech lands, which include the modern Czech Republic as well as Bohemia, Czech Silesia and Moravia, goes back many centuries. There is evidence that Jews have lived in Moravia and Bohemia since as early as the 10th century. As of 2005, there were approximately 4,000 Jews living in the Czech Republic.

Ferdinand Ďurčanský

Ferdinand Ďurčanský was a Slovak nationalist leader who for a time served with as a minister in the government of the Axis-aligned Slovak State in 1939 and 1940. He was known for spreading virulent antisemitic propaganda, although he left the government before the Holocaust in Slovakia was fully implemented. After the war, he joined the Gehlen Organization.

Art and Remembrance: The Legacy of Felix Nussbaum is a 1993 documentary directed by Barbara Pfeffer, which explores the life of Jewish artist, Felix Nussbaum.

František Reichentál, also known as Frank/Ferenc, Reichenthal/Reichen-tal, was a Jewish Eastern European modern artist. He is known for paintings depicting his experiences of childhood poverty, captivity as a prisoner of war in Russia, escape from the Nazis, and finally fleeing from the Communists to start over in the United States.

Working Group (resistance organization) World War Two Jewish resistance organisation in Slovakia

The Working Group was an underground Jewish organization in the Axis-aligned Slovak State during World War II. Led by Gisi Fleischmann and Rabbi Michael Dov Weissmandl, the Working Group rescued Jews from the Holocaust by gathering and disseminating information on the Holocaust in Poland, bribing and negotiating with German and Slovak officials, and smuggling valuables to Jews deported to Poland.

The Holocaust in Slovakia Systematic dispossession, deportation, and murder of Jews in the Slovak State

The Holocaust in Slovakia was the systematic dispossession, deportation, and murder of Jews in the Slovak State, a client state of Nazi Germany, during World War II. Out of 89,000 Jews in the country in 1940, around 69,000 were murdered in the Holocaust.

Jozef Tisos speech in Holič 1942 speech by Jozef Tiso

In August 1942, Jozef Tiso, president of the Slovak State and a Catholic priest, gave a speech in Holič, Slovakia, in which he defended the deportation of Jews from Slovakia. Referring to Jews as "parasites" and "the eternal enemy", Tiso claimed that their deportation was both economically necessary and congruent with Christian moral principles. The speech has been recognized as a key part of Tiso's moral legacy, emblematic of his complicity in the Holocaust.

Tibor Kováč (1905–1952) was an activist in the illegal Working Group resistance organization during the Holocaust in Slovakia; he also worked for the welfare department of the Ústredňa Židov (ÚŽ), the Judenrat in the Slovak State.

Presidential exemption (Slovak State)

Presidential exemptions were granted by President of the Slovak State Jozef Tiso to individual Jews, exempting them from systematic persecution through anti-Jewish legislation introduced by Tiso's Jewish Code,, during the Holocaust. The exemptions were exchanged for arbitrary monetary fees. From an estimated 20,000 requests, 600 documented exemptions covering 1,000 people were granted, but only after 1942, when deportations to Auschwitz death camp had already stopped. Following the German invasion of 1944, when deportations resumed, all exemptions were nullified.

Anton Vašek

Anton Vašek (1905–1946) was the head of Department 14 in the Slovak State's Central Economic Office. He is known for accepting bribes in exchange for reducing deportation of Jews from Slovakia.


  1. Matthew Baigwell. Jewish-American artists and the holocaust. Rutgers University Press. ISBN   0813524040 . Retrieved April 2, 2013.

2. Valeria Tothova: SHALOM. Kanadska zakladna pre umenie a divadlo. Toronto, Canada, 2008 (book)

3. V. & D. Toth: TIBOR SPITZ - Portrety uspesnych Slovakov. Documentary film. Toronske Slovenske Divadlo, 2015 (documentary film)