The Perpetrators is a series of lithographs created by the artist Sidney Chafetz. Below is an excerpt from Chafetz’s artist statement:
“In 1990, after I had done extensive research on the Nazi era, Perpetrators began to take shape. Rather than depicting victims, I decided to portray the people who made Hitler possible. I began to focus mainly on a representative group of men who helped Hitler to power and implemented his policies. These “perpetrators” came from every facet of life: law, education, the military, industry, finance, medicine, religion, science, journalism, art. They were mainly men of position and education. By using period photographs, together with biographical text as integral to the drawn portraits, I satisfied the twin poles of my aesthetic and didactic interests: work that achieves a formal coherence and at the same time educational impact.”
Sid Chafetz’s Perpetrators, depicting the complicity of industrialists, businessmen, professionals, soldiers, churchmen, physicians, lawyers and bureaucrats who implemented and executed the Nazi’s diabolical schemes, is another profound statement by a committed artist who attempts to come to grips with The Holocaust, just as all of us – survivor, child of survivors, Jew, gentile, German, American or citizen of the planet – must someday do.
– Allon Schoener, Perpetrators: A Selection of Original Prints by Sid Chafetz, 1991
Sidney Chafetz (1922-2013) was born in Providence Rhode Island in 1922. He received his art training at the Rhode Island School of Design; L’Ecole Americaine des Beaux Arts, Fontainebleau; L’Academie Julien, Paris; and with Fernand Léger, Paris. He became a professor at Ohio State University in 1948 where he taught until his retirement in 1982. Chafetz was known for his skills in printmaking, working with woodcuts and linoleum blocks. His subjects ranged from politics and portraits, to the Holocaust. He has had numerous exhibitions in both the U.S. and abroad and his works are in the collections of many major museums including: the Cleveland, Columbus, and Cincinnati Museums; the Museum of Modern Art in New York; the Smithsonian Museum; the Pierpont Morgan Library; The Dahlem Museum, Berlin; and the New York Public Library.
In 1992 Chafetz completed Perpetrators. The Center has 30 lithographs on permanent display.