Manfred Zadik was born in Ostrowo (now Ostrow Wielkopolski, Poland), into a Jewish family. He joined university in 1906, qualified as a junior lawyer in 1909 and a fully qualified  solicitor in 1913. He was called up with the outbreak of World War One and was a NCO throughout the war (due in part to anti semitism).

Zadik was posted in Rostock on the Baltic coast and also served on the Western Front. Zadik joined a unit on the Eastern Front, in October 1915 and served in Russia and along the Hungarian-Romanian border. He was discharged from the army in 1918 and practised as a solicitor until 1941. After being held for 24 hours in a concentration camp after the events of Kristallnacht in 1938, he emigrated to the USA, via France, Spain, Portugal, and Guatemala, settling in San Francisco, where he became an advocate for emigrants seeking restitution from the German government.

Zadik's albums collectively reveal a snapshot of life in a German unit on the Eastern Front showing scenes of life and death, relaxation and boredom, local populations and of the extensive trench systems.

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