Bela's art tells the story of Rosa Lurie, the artist's mother, and her cousin, Sara Furmansky, both of whom hid in a Lithuanian woman's potato storage hole under a field during part of the Holocaust. Born in the small town of Kedynia, Lithuania, Rosa and Sara were taken to the Rasain Ghetto in 1941. When their families were informed that the entire ghetto was to be deported to a concentration camp, Sara's mother told the two that their blonde hair and "non-Semitic" features gave them a chance for survival.
Sara and Rosa escaped to the forests, where they met a Lithuanian neighbor who agreed to hide them in her field. For nearly a year, the two cousins could only come out of the hole at night to get food from the woman. The hole was eventually evacuated in the winter when the freezing temperatures made it unbearable to stay.
Though Rosa and Sara survived and were able to return to thank the woman, their families did not. Rosa’s first husband was killed in the war. She later remarried and moved to Israel, passing away in 1973. Sara Furmansky Gurvich, mother and grandmother, still lives in Israel.
This artwork is a tribute to both the fortitude of the artist’s mother and cousin, and the heroic deeds of people like this Lithuanian angel who risked their own lives to save those persecuted.
The above story was presented in Reflections on the Holocaust: Works by Holocaust Survivors, Family Members and Friends, curated by Chana Benjamin, New Century Artists, Inc., 2001