Krinitz, Esther Nisenthal 1927-2001

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Krinitz, Esther Nisenthal 1927-2001


Born 1927, in Mniszek, Poland; immigrated to United States, 1949, naturalized citizen; died March, 2001; married Max Krinitz, November, 1946; children: Bernice Steinhardt, Helene McQuade. Religion: Jewish.


Worked as a seamstress and dressmaker; textile artist. Exhibitions: Work has been exhibited at American Visionary Art Museum, Baltimore, MD; Lisa Watson Children's Museum, Miami, FL; Guilford College, Greensborough, NC; Juda L. Magnes Museum, Berkeley, CA; and Arnot Art Museum, Elmira, NY.


(With daughter, Bernice Steinhardt) Memories of Survival, Hyperion (New York, NY), 2005.


Esther Nisenthal Krinitz was fifteen years old when the Nazis rounded up the Jewish citizens of Mniszek, Poland, where she lived, and sent them to concentration camps. Esther persuaded her sister Mania to run away with her, and for the rest of World War II the sisters pretended to be Roman Catholics as they worked at a farm in rural Poland. When the Russians liberated the country and Krinitz discovered that the rest of her family had been exterminated, she moved to Germany, where she met her husband, Max Krinitz. In 1949, the Krinitz's immigrated to the United States and made a new home. Beginning in 1977, Krinitz channeled her talent as a seamstress and began to re-create her life in thirty-six textile collages, incorporating embroidery, crochet, knitting, and appliqué techniques, along with hand-embroidered captions explaining the action in each panel. These highly detailed artworks follow Krinitz from her farming childhood and depict the traumatic events that characterized her war years and beyond, to her life in America.

Four years after Krinitz's death in 2001, her daughter, Bernice Steinhardt, published a collaborative memoir that includes the art Krinitz created to document her life. The book, Memories of Survival, joins a body of work from those who managed to elude the Holocaust. Because Krinitz was a teenager when the Holocaust began, her memoir is appropriate for children and young adults. As coauthor, Steinhardt fills in the details her mother recounted to her over the years. As Hazel Rochman noted in Booklist, "the telling is quiet … with depth and color that will make readers look closely." A Publishers Weekly reviewer commented of Memories of Survival that Krinitz's textile images "stand as one woman's testimony to hope, endurance, and the unquenchable passion to bear witness," and Horn Book critic Robin Smith concluded that Krinitz's handiworks "move the heartbreaking tale forward and leave the reader stunned."

Biographical and Critical Sources


(With Bernice Steinhardt) Memories of Survival, Hyperion (New York, NY), 2005.


Booklist, October 15, 2005, Hazel Rochman, review of Memories of Survival, p. 47.

Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, March, 2006, April Spisak, review of Memories of Survival, p. 317.

Horn Book, November-December, 2005, Robin Smith, review of Memories of Survival, p. 737.

Kirkus Reviews, October 1, 2005, review of Memories of Survival, p. 1082.

Publishers Weekly, October 10, 2005, review of Memories of Survival, p. 61.

School Library Journal, November, 2005, Rachel Kamin, review of Memories of Survival, p. 165.


Art & Remembrance Web site, (November 10, 2008), "Esther Nisenthal Krititz."

Hyperion Books for Children Web site, (November 10, 2008), "Esther Nisenthal Krititz."


Interview with Esther Nisenthal Krinitz (documentary film), directed by Lawrence Kasdan, Art and Remembrance, 1998.