"I was born in Lodz, Poland on December 13, 1922. In 1941, while living in the Lodz Ghetto with my mother, the Nazis separated me from my mother and hauled her away in a truck with others. As I reached for her hand, she pushed her diamond wedding ring (which I later traded for a month of canned food and bread), into the palm of my hand and screamed, "Save yourself my son, save yourself!" That was the very last time I ever saw my mother, but those words stuck with me and pulled me through the next three years of atrocities."
I remained alone in the Ghetto writing poetry and drawing until 1942 when the Nazis sent me to work in several Polish ammunition factories. Eventually I was sent to Buchenwald Concentration Camp (where I had to destroy my drawings and poetry for my own safety), and remained there until I was liberated by the American Third Army on April 11, 1945.
"Living in concentration camps for those years, I was frail and in ill health. It took me years to recuperate from the physical atrocities I suffered during the war."
"After my liberation, I lived for a number of years in Austria and Italy, until I immigrated to the United States in the fall of 1949."
In 1951, he married Lucille Pitluk, another Polish immigrant.
They had a son, Paul, and a daughter, Gail, who have given them
four grandchildren. After apprenticing as a jeweler, he opened
his own jewelry design firm, which has been a successful enterprise for over 50 years.
In 1966, Mr. Bernheim began painting still-lifes and landscapes in oils. He persisted with his painting by attending the Art Students League of New York, where he studied portraits in oil and figure composition under Robert Brackman, anatomy drawing under Gustav Rayburger and figures and portraits in pastels under Daniel Greene.
Since 1996, Mr. Bernheim has completed numerous Holocaust works of art and has continued to paint on various themes formulated through the impact of his life experiences.
When asked what drives him to continue with his painting and drawing at this stage in his life, he replied,
"Though I originally hoped to write a book about my life, I realized that an ocean of ink cannot describe the impact of the suffering and torture I saw and experienced, and as most survivors are dying, I remain as one of the living witnesses to the crimes of the Nazis which were committed against us for just being Jews."
"I am driven to put my life experiences on canvas in an effort to decrease the hatred and prejudice that abounds and to share with future generations what must never be forgotten."