Chasing Portraits with Elizabeth Rynecki

Elizabeth Rynecki grew up in San Francisco in the 1970s, surrounded by her great-grandfather Moshe Rynecki’s paintings of pre-WWII Jewish life in Poland – depicting woodworkers, women sewing and street performers. Moshe created over 800 paintings and sculptures before he was moved into the Warsaw Ghetto, deported and murdered in the Majdanek concentration camp. Hundreds of his paintings disappeared, and, for most of her life, Elizabeth assumed she had seen all of the paintings that had survived the war. But she ultimately uncovered clues that some of his work had been squirreled away from the Nazis during the war – tucked in basements, bought and sold – and might still be out there. She has spent 30 years hunting for lost pieces of her great-grandfather’s legacy, along the way collecting the stories and heartache of Holocaust survivors and families just like hers.