"Anyone can go to the Holocaust museum [in Washington DC] but not everyone gets this experience." ~A. Speitel (student, 17)
Art From Within Terezin
Prior to the Nazis taking it over in 1941, Terezin (Theresienstadt), was a small Austrian garrison town housed about 7,000 residents. Between November 1941 and April 1945 the ghetto cramped more than 140,000 European Jews into less than 3.5 square miles.
The Terezin ghetto differed from all other ghettos. The Nazis designed it to deceive the outside world into believing that the “rumors” that Hitler was deporting European Jews to be killed at death camps (such as Auschwitz-Birkenau) were false. To quell these suspicions, the Nazis allowed the International Red Cross a visit on June 23, 1944. Prior to the Red Cross’s visit, the Nazis instituted an intense “beautification” project to clean up the ghetto. This included planting gardens, painting houses, renovating barracks and staging social and cultural events. This “beautification” project also included a more sinister side; thousands of elderly, sick and dying prisoners were deported to Auschwitz before the Red Cross arrived.
Terezin also differed in a more cultural manner. In order to suppress possible rebellions and revolts, Hitler deported a large percentage of European artists, musicians, and writers to Terezin. He believed that if these insurrectionists could be gathered in one place, he could keep an eye on them and prevent their ideas from spreading around Europe.
The art in this gallery focuses on perceptions of the artist of daily life and routines while expressing their feelings.
A note on sources and artists:
Leo Haas 1901-1983
Born April 15, 1901 in Opava, Czechoslovakia. Studied in Karlsruhe and at the Berlin Art Academy, and then worked as a portrait painter and lithographer in Opava. During the year 1939 he was a prisoner of the concentration camp Nizko. In Terezin, where he was deported December 30, 1942 from Ostrava, he was employed in the Drawing Office of the Technical Department. For his art work he was arrested on July 17, 1944 and, together with other painters, imprisoned in the Small Fortress. On October 26, 1944 he was deported to Auschwitz. He later passed through the concentration camps Sachsenhausen and Mauthausen, and was liberated in the camp Ebensee. After the war he worked as a cartoonist in Prague, and from 1955 on he was professor at the Art Academy in Berlin.
Karel Fleischmann 1897-1944
Born February 22, 1897 in Klavtovy, Czechoslovakia. Studied medicine at the Charles University in Prague and worked as a dermatologist in Ceske Budejovice. Since his youth he painted and wrote literary works and was one of the founding members of the avant-garde group "The Line". He was deported to Terezin April 18, 1942 (Akb, 68), where he worked with great self-sacrafice in the leadership of the health administration. In his free moments he drew, composed essays and poems and gave lectures. He perished in Auschwitz, where he was deported on October 23, 1944 (Et, 58Q).
Fritta (Fritz) Taussig 1906-1944
Born September 19, 1906 in Visnova u Frydlantu in Bohemia; active as a cartoonist and graphic artist in Prague. In Terezin, where he was deported as part of the Aufbaukommando1 on December 4, 1941 (J, 482), he became director of the Technical Department which became the center of artists and of unofficial art work. On July 17, 1944 he was arrested together with other painters for alleged "horror propaganda", and transferred with his wife, Hansi, and their three year old son Tommy to the Small Fortress2. Together with Leo Haas, he was deported to Auschwitz on October 26, 1944. He perished there on November 8, 1944.
1The construction battalion charged with the preparation of the Terezin camp for the prisoners. (Transl.)
2The Terezin prison. (Transl.)
All images except "Cabaret In The Courtyard" come from Seeing Through "Paradise": Artists and the Terezin Concentration Camp. Boston: Massachusetts College of Art, 1991.
"Cabaret In The Courtyard" comes from Dutlinger, Anne D.. Art, Music and Education as Strategies for Survival: Theresienstadt 1941-1945. New York: Herodias, 2001.
All artist biographies come from Seeing Through "Paradise": Artists and the Terezin Concentration Camp. Boston: Massachusetts College of Art, 1991.