Schutz-Pass issued to Irene Hirsch Vilscek (whose photo is missing from the document) and her daughter, Erika Vilscek (photo). Signed by Ivan Danielsson,Swedish Ambassador in Budapest, under the direction of Raoul Wallenberg, August 24, 1944.
Bak's "Self Portrait" is a portrait of the artist as a young boy, though the experiences he has gone through have hastened his journey toward maturity. Among the many crimes the Germans committed against the Jewish future was the murder of more than a million helpless children. This painting is a vivid reminder of the dilemma that is a vexing if paradoxical birthright of that crime: no one's survival can be detached from the loss of someone else.
In "Self-Portrait" Samuel Bak was concerned with multiple versions of the self. That painting presents us with the idea that the boy-artist shares his destiny with countless other children who did not survive the war. The boy from the Warsaw Ghetto appears as a kind of alter ego to Bak, and the two occupy adjacent spaces on the canvas. Whatever vision the young artist may develop in the future, it will have to include the fate of those who were less lucky than he. This is a somber but a manageable idea, since it leaves to the imagination the details of what that fate may have been.