CHILDREN'S ART OF THE HOLOCAUST.
In July 1942, as the mass murder of European Jewry was escalating to its peak, the Jewish authorities in Theresienstadt made what provisions for their future they could: they opened children's homes.(1) Just over two years later, these homes were liquidated during the last mass deportations to the gas chambers of Auschwitz-Birkenau in September and October 1944.(2) Few of the children survived.(3) But some 4,000 of their drawings and paintings were recovered when Theresienstadt was liberated in May 1945, preserving an unparalleled record of children's art from the Holocaust. The paintings remain a moving memorial to the vividness of the imagination of children in adversity and as such a selection of them has been exhibited widely.(4) In part, what makes them so moving is their apparent optimism. We see pictures of woods and butterflies flitting over flowers, where we might have expected at least some sort of allegorical representation of SS violence and mass deportations.(5) It is this seeming ability of children's art to reaffirm the spirit of humanity as well as the will to live which has turned these paintings into such potent symbols of resistance. But can we use this material as a historical source?
The first problem with working with these paintings and drawings stems from their commemorative status as `Holocaust art'. As a ghetto, Theresienstadt housed mainly Czech, German and other West European Jews, their predominantly secular leanings distinguishing them from many other East European Jewish communities. As a transit camp, Theresienstadt Was selected as a railhead to Auschwitz-Birkenau. Its idiosyncratic status within the `final solution' is underlined by the fact that it contained both those Jews who -- as highly-decorated veterans of the Great War, for example -- enjoyed some measure of protection from further deportation and those whose second deportation followed swiftly upon the first. Although, as in other camps and ghettos, rates of disease, malnutrition and mortality in Theresienstadt remained consistently high, from the outside at least Theresienstadt did not resemble the other Jewish ghettos of eastern Europe. Whereas the ghettos of Warsaw, Vilnius and Lodz all bordered other sections of the same cities, in Theresienstadt children looked over the eighteenth-century walls of the small garrison town at gently rolling countryside and the river Eger. The SS took full propaganda advantage of this rural setting. As the one camp opened to inspection by the International Red Cross, Theresienstadt was `beautified' in preparation and conditions temporarily improved for those inhabitants who were not deported in order to reduce the appearance of overcrowding. In its various manifestations, Theresienstadt at times resembled the other East European ghettos, while remaining at other times culturally -- and nutritionally -- distinct from them, let alone from the world of the concentration and death camps. We can speak of the children's art produced there as `Holocaust art' only in so far as we remember that many divergent realities persisted within the system of mass murder and refrain from investing these artworks with the symbolic duty of speaking for all the other murdered children who left no testimony behind.
We owe the pictures to the work of the children's art teacher, Friedl Dicker-Brandeis.(6) Trained in Vienna by Johannes Itten, she followed him to the Weimar Bauhaus before setting up new ateliers in Berlin and Vienna from 1923 onwards. After being interrogated as a suspected Communist in the wake of the 1934 putsch in Vienna, Friedl Dicker immigrated to Prague. There she married Pavel Brandeis and became a Czechoslovak citizen, although she did not learn Czech even in Theresienstadt. But a great deal of her work did prepare her for the role she was to assume in the ghetto. She shared Itten's passion for seeing art as a form of creative release -- practising meditation and breathing exercises in conjunction -- and built on his method of teaching pupils to break away from mechanical copying and to develop their own self-expression. First in her classes for kindergarten teachers in Vienna and later with the children in Theresienstadt, she introduced ways of analyzing famous paintings in terms of the rhythmic movement of the brush strokes which composed the figures. Even in Theresienstadt she used books of reproductions of works by Giotto, Cranach, Vermeer and van Gogh to this end, although she was also careful to allow the children only a few minutes to look at the books lest they revert to copying. From survivors' accounts and Dicker-Brandeis's own notes from 1943, we know that she made the children choose their subjects by telling them fairy stories or simply listing objects whose arrangement they had to organize.(7)
[Figures ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]
The classes themselves were organized predominantly for girls: far fewer pictures by boys survive, and many of those that do were composed in a different setting and for different purposes, such as to illustrate their clandestine weekly magazine, Vedem [We Lead]. From the techniques and materials used and subjects depicted it is possible to group the pictures by type. This helps to build up a sense of the way the classes in Theresienstadt operated and to see where learning ended and free expression began. The girls' works in the Theresienstadt collection operate on three distinct levels. First, there are those drawings and paintings where the novelty of medium and technique seem to be more important than the content. This is true of the rhythmic renditions of the old masters,(8) of the collages -- often based on the fairy tale or pastoral themes(9) -- and of the abstract patterns, strips of paper woven into basket-work screens and given a colour wash to create geometric designs of subtlety and depth.(10) Secondly, we find themes where the particular topic follows a common format, such as celebrations of seder and Christmas,(11) images of home and the countryside(12) -- the largest single group -- and still-life paintings of flowers in vases and pairs of wooden shoes.(13) Finally, there are the drawings of everyday life in the ghetto, which are a relatively small minority of the approximately 600 artworks I have examined. What follows only discusses works from the second and third groups.
Typical for many of the paintings of the countryside in the second group is Helga Pollak's effort. Aged thirteen, she daubs three large and bright flowers on a background of fields and hills. The picture, with its blue sky, strong sense of balance on the paper and bright colours, is confident and striking.(14) Her Theresienstadt diary and later recollections testify to a generally optimistic and emotionally intense engagement with her companions and surroundings. Perhaps her experience was unusual: as a highly decorated (Austrian) veteran of the First World War, her disabled father was protected from further deportation and saw her daily in the ghetto.(15) Yet, in fact, her picture is no different from a great deal of the girls' art. Similarly, Vera Lowyova's house, tucked jauntily between trees in the countryside, secure between the fields and mountains, conjures up another very frequently repeated theme, a kind of uncomplicated evocation of `home'.(16) As Dicker-Brandeis herself observed of one such depiction of home in the country, `everything is reorganised according to sentimentality and convention', and is suggestive of `homesickness'.(17) This is `home' according to the norms of children's art, not the pre-deportation urban environments in which many of the children would have actually lived.
The sense of composition in these pieces is remarkable. Pictures like these were very probably produced in response to a given theme and some at least are identifiable by the sheer number that record a particular, usually benign and imaginary, subject. From them, we can glean some insight into Dicker-Brandeis's own expectations as an art teacher. A report she wrote in 1943 and also an extensive set of her lecture notes have survived. The talk is explicitly addressed to the parents and relatives of the children, as well as the other youth workers, and seems to have been used for a guided tour of the pictures, exhibited to celebrate the first anniversary of the homes in 1943.(18) She encouraged the adults to look at the paintings from the point of view of the children's psychological development and to hold in check their own eagerness to discover precocious artistic virtuosity. Influenced by psychoanalytic ideas, she pointed to what she saw as the `sexual sadism' and `aggression' of pre-adolescence in a picture where hands and feet appeared randomly disconnected, as if dismembered. Although Dicker-Brandeis clearly encouraged the children to concentrate on optimistic themes, she did suggest potentially aggressive or violent subjects such as `persecution, stone throwing, [and] hell' as well.(19) She went on to explain how she had had to learn to exercise real caution in commenting on the pictures herself, preferring to let the children discuss each other's work, lest they alter them in an effort to please her. Finally, she observed that the ability of the children in her classes, aged 10 to 14, oscillated dramatically depending upon whether they were drawing from models -- where they often had similar abilities to older teenagers -- or drawing from memory or imagination, in which case their ability frequently `regressed' to that of much younger children.
This gives some further clues to looking at the pictures themselves. Many are paintings and most of these are composed boldly, centring the subject in the middle of the paper. The confident skill displayed in depicting wooden clogs or flowers in a vase fits well with Dicker-Brandeis's reflections on the competence of children working from models. But, for this reason, many also appear too close to the genres to which they belong to leave much room for individual interpretation. For the historian, the risks of over- and mis-interpretation are too great. In marked contrast to such paintings stands a smaller number of pencil and crayon drawings. Many of these are not centred, but start, like so many pictures by younger children, in a corner of the page.(20) It is these drawings which so often focus on, or at least incorporate, elements of daily life. They form the third distinct group of drawings. They were most probably composed in time which we know from Dicker-Brandeis's account was dedicated to undirected, `free' drawing. This may also explain their media -- why valuable paints are not to be found here.
The problems of interpreting these children's art historically are made doubly difficult because we lack clear methodological precedents. Although historians of childhood in early modern Europe have greatly extended the range of sources pertaining to childhood by using visual material depicting children's dress, meals, education, working conditions and games, there is no established historical method for looking at the visual material produced by children themselves.(21) Should we interpret their drawings as depicting real life or expressing their fantasies? Are apparently `optimistic' pictures necessarily the work of happy children? Could they be a mask, an artificial routine or, even if genuinely entered into, none the less a defence against underlying emotions which have not surfaced in the picture? Do children paint the world around them or do they go on painting the same picture, taking it with them like an expressionist autobiography? And what roles do age and sexual and cognitive development play? These are questions which art therapists and psychoanalysts might routinely pose and, under the controlled conditions of long-term work with individual children, reasonably hope to answer. With the help of a Frau Dr Baumel, Dicker-Brandeis did draw psycholanalytic inferences from the girls' paintings, noting, for example, how one girl `draws spring leaves and blossom as well as snowflakes in winter aggressively as if they were stones'. But such opinions depend in part too on watching the development in artwork over time as well as intimate personal knowledge.(22) Melanie Klein used paper-cutting as part of her 1924 psychoanalysis of six-year-old Erna. They were, according to Klein, `beautifully cut-out patterns, for instance representing a table cloth', but, set in the context of the overall analysis, she concluded that they `stood for her [Erna's] parents' genitals or the body of her mother restored from the destruction which in phantasy she had previously inflicted on them'.(23) Interpretations of this sort of complexity are not really possible with the fragmentary and scarcely individually differentiated material which we now possess from Theresienstadt. No attempt will be made here to interpret these pictures in terms of any formal psychoanalytical theory of child development or of the structure of the mind.
It is the third group of artworks, the free drawings, which offer a first interpretative opening. They lead us directly into the everyday world of adversity and depict the girls' complicated relationships to people and objects in striking and surprising ways. To this group of drawings we can add others which may have been composed in response to themes (such as `home') suggested by Dicker-Brandeis, but which develop or depart from the genre in surprising ways. It is notable that in general violence is very unusual and fear itself hardly ever surfaces directly. Even on the very rare occasions when fear is registered, as in the screaming girl that Rosa Englander's daughter Raja drew, the girl is screaming not at the everyday world but at the dark door behind her (Plate 1).(24)
What we need to look at in most of these drawings are their details, even seemingly trivial details which challenge the overall context and depart from the genre, allowing us to see the patterns of association, as well as the differences between apparently similar pictures. It is also in what is not shown -- in the technical and compositional `slips' in the visual material, akin to Freudian slips of the tongue -- that the pictures give us glimpses of their artists' perceptions.(25) In short, we can often learn most from the pictures when the artist `gets it wrong'.
We must bear in mind, however, that little is known about most of the children as individuals and the pictures, like their other activities, were not created in relation to the nuclear families from which most of them came, but to a new collectivity of their peers. One way of understanding the possible meanings expressed in these pieces of art is precisely through this tension between individuals first formed in families and then remade in their peer group. Here, it is vital to look beyond the pedagogy of the classroom and consider the ways that the children's homes were designed to make the children feel relatively safe by making them part of a new collectivity.
THE CHILDREN'S COLLECTIVE
Theresienstadt was the only ghetto or transit camp in the Jewish Holocaust to set up either children's homes or to provide officially sanctioned art classes. Although a precious few drawings by child artists survive from other locations, the artworks produced in Theresienstadt are by far the largest collection we have and so fall into a unique category.(26) What made them possible?
In Theresienstadt as elsewhere the Jewish authorities made the most of their severely limited autonomy from SS control to lay on both official and clandestine classes as well as entertainments for the children. Resources were less meagre than in other Jewish ghettos and the Jewish authorities decided at the outset to direct them towards child and youth welfare. Among the many theatrical and musical performances for which Theresienstadt became famous -- not least through a highly manipulative Nazi propaganda film shot there -- there were performances in which the children themselves took part.(27) There was the children's choir which Rafael Schachter trained, best remembered for its role in Hans Krasa's children's opera, Brundibar. The opera ends with the children's triumph over the evil monster, Brundibar, climaxing with a rousing chorus of victory and hope. The work so cheered adults as well as children that it ran for fifty-nine performances.(28) Such occasions offered precarious moments of collective optimism in an anxiety-ridden and intensely individualistic environment. Similar attempts at cultural resistance -- albeit on a smaller scale -- have been chronicled in other East European ghettos and West European transit camps. But such initiatives could not themselves take the place of a structured routine of daily living for children who remained in the adult environment; and, beyond the provision of sporadic and clandestine classes, this is where initiatives aimed at the children generally faltered elsewhere in the archipelago of ghettos and transit camps. Resources were too meagre; the SS regime too vindictive. In this respect, one cannot overemphasize the extent to which conditions within Theresienstadt, though still lethally punitive, were markedly less so than those enforced on Jewish populations elsewhere.(29)
The children of Theresienstadt had a number of positive role models not available in other ghettos and camps. In Vilnius the bigger boys played the `guards' searching and beating the `Jews' (acted by the younger children) as they pretended to return from work, whereas in Theresienstadt children's conversations often revolved around the weekly football tournaments, the Czech boys against the German boys, the cooks against the ghetto watch.(30)
Child survivors have stressed the value of the daily routines in the homes, which stood out in sharp relief against the lack of structure for the children who remained with one or other parent in the single-sex adult barracks.(31) In the children's homes there were cleaning rotas and order in the cramped dormitories: communal breakfasts every day followed by a general assembly and roll call, streamed classes in the mornings, meetings on Friday evenings, special buns on the weekends -- and continual well-organized evasion of the SS. Under the bizarre and shifting orders regulating every aspect of the new society, children were generally forbidden to attend classes -- though these continued in secret regardless. In Yehuda Bacon's account of his time in the Czech boys' home, both the danger of discovery and his pride in evading it are apparent:
Two pupils kept watch, one by the house entrance, one by the doors. If an SS man crossed our way, they reported it. We already knew how to behave. You began immediately to talk about something or to read from a book. Our paper was quickly hidden....(32)
`We already knew': his unquestioned place in this children's collective reverberates throughout his account. The homes were voluntary, but parents and other adult relatives -- who were also often in the ghetto -- usually had no means to care for their children themselves. Discipline within the homes depended to a considerable extent on the children's own awareness that they formed an elite of sorts, that their conditions were better than those of the children in the adult barracks and that they were lucky to gain places. Ruth Kluger recalls how she feared being excluded from the German girls' home for breaking the interdiction on drinking contaminated water. Part of being a member of any group with close-knit bonds of this kind seems to have been knowing just what sort of member you were. At first she did not mind being the oddity, the new girl in her room, the outsider who did not know the invisible social protocol. She did not mind because she assumed that she was in the home temporarily. It was only when her mother refused to take her back to the adult barracks that she realized that she was there to stay and began to involve herself fully in the world of the room and her roommates. In the Czech boys' home, for some boys at least, this process preceded their arrival in Theresienstadt. The kernel of the group was formed by boys from the Jewish orphanage in Prague, boys who therefore already knew each other and institutional life. For some it was not so easy. Helga Pollak noted in her diary how bewildered, isolated and inconsolable her neighbour in the Czech girls' home was, a fourteen-year-old German girl, a fervent Catholic, deported under the regulations applied to so-called Mischlinge, or children of `mixed' marriages. By contrast, both pre-adolescent boys and girls seem often to have `paired' within their rooms, forming intense, same-sex friendships.(33)
What turned individual rooms into complete `houses' was the way a particular cohort of children formed a distinct and self-conscious group. Central to this process was their relationship with their carers. Whereas the teachers moved from class to class, the leaders of each room were there all the time. Ella Pollak, who supervised the room of Czech girls who drew and painted many of the pictures we have, remained with them throughout their incarceration and further deportation. She became simply `Tella' to them. Valtr Eisinger and his assistant Josef Stiassny moved their beds into the dormitory in the Czech boys' home and participated in the games and telling of bedtime stories. The role of personal example was clearly a vital part of this relationship. It was known that Stiassny had lost a brother in the Czech Resistance, so lending a heroic aura to his moral authority, which was further enhanced by his scrupulous honesty about food. He became `Pepek' to the Czech boys. The diminutive Eisinger won their respect by ridiculing the unsuspecting SS who came to inspect the room with that ultimate gesture of intellectual mockery, an overly elaborate show of respect.(34) The boys dubbed him `Tiny'. These allegiances were expressed through the use of the Hebrew title Madrich, transforming the German title of Betreuer (carer) from teacher and guardian to youth leader and friend.
The cultural atmosphere animating these experiments was of a peculiarly central European kind, an eclectic mixture of German educational ideas, Zionist and Communist ideals, and notions of the collective with some admixture of Freud. The role of Zionism was ambiguous. Helga Pollak remembered that in the Czech home for girls, `Everything that had to do with Israel was looked upon as somehow fantastic, and something everybody wanted to do was to go to Israel and to be in a Kibbutz'.(35) To impart a future-orientated vision, Zionist or Communist as it might be, was of course one of the aims of the Jugendfursorge, the Youth Welfare Department, as a whole. Yet, at the same time, the children's very focus on the individual rooms as the units to which they belonged tended against any centrally defined pedagogy. Instead, it ended by altering relationships within the Jugendfursorge itself. In the summer of 1943, Eisinger was able to demand that the Zionist elements in the curriculum be toned down and Egon Redlich, the head of the Jugendfursorge, gave way.(36)
This was an intellectual atmosphere in which Eisinger had no hesitation in turning to the symbol of Goethe in order to explain to the children why they should not reject Germans and German culture as a whole or hold them collectively responsible for the persecution of the Jews. It was, he claimed, impossible to `hate a nation that is one of the most cultured in the world and to whom to a great extent, I owe my education'.(37) Instead, he encouraged the more intellectually precocious boys in his room to set up a `Republic of Shkid' in imitation of a post-revolutionary orphanage in Petrograd, the Shkola Imeni Dostoyevskovo. They, in turn, would demand lectures on Russian literature in their weekly journal Vedem. The room was, Yehuda Bacon remembered with perhaps a tinge of nostalgia, `democratically' run, with votes and vetoes. But rooms were inspected and the bedding from badly made beds was thrown out the window and the boys could be punished with `house-arrest' on Saturday.(38) The routine in the Czech girls' home was much the same. They too had order, a rota for chores, classes, a house song, better food than was to be had outside the homes, and a uniform for special occasions. There was even a short-lived girls' journal, Bonaco, an acronym for the Czech bordel na koleckach, a play on the words denoting both disorder and brothel.(39) There was room here for the Communist, Rosa Englander who had returned from Palestine to Vienna at the end of the 1920s. She and Dicker-Brandeis's husband were said to have used a secret radio receiver in the carpentry shop of the Czech girls' home. In any event, Englander was a person who commanded respect from those around her. She believed that the `children's collective' provided the only model for saving the children from the `corruption' of the surrounding adult environment(40)
By intentionally turning to Russian and Hebrew for terms of address, such as madrich, in place of the more normal German or Czech, and by inventing acronyms, such as Shkid and Bonaco, which only those insiders could decipher, the children were drawn into an inner community with its own jokes and secret signs. They created their own codes, which, for some, survived even their encounter with the camp slang of Birkenau.(41) Still, each large-scale transport from Theresienstadt threatened to tear this fragile collective apart.
In the analysis of the pictures that follows, I want to take two issues of key importance to adults and children alike -- food and home -- and trace them through the drawings. Food was a prime factor in physical adjustment and survival. It also, as we shall see, became a primary object of fascination for adults and children alike. The children's homes, with their emphasis on the collective and the group, appear to have been a largely positive experience in themselves and yet stood in contrast to the nuclear families from which most of the children came. Although children did not draw everything that had a major impact on their lives, they did represent food and home in various ways. By grouping these works loosely by theme, we can explore them individually and set them in the context of prevailing conditions in the ghetto.
Communal kitchens were the norm in Theresienstadt and the food queue became a form of primary socialization for new arrivals, as well as a source of endless complaints, charges and counter-charges of corrupt practice among adults. Although the ghetto administration attempted to protect the children, awarding them higher rations and moving, in 1943, to establish separate kitchens for them within the homes, they none the less continued to follow the bread cart through the ghetto streets and to witness the struggle for existence into which the food queue drove most adults (Plates 2-3).(42)
Twelve-year-old Vera Wurzelova's vision of a food queue in Plate 2 lends a firmness and solidity to her figures, even though perspective is still lacking.(43) Predictably, the figures in authority, the guard in attendance on the left and the cooks ladling out rations on the right are considerably larger than the men and women, not to mention the child, waiting to receive them.
In the top half of Liliane Franklova's drawing in Plate 3 we find a similar scene: four adults wait patiently in line at a soup kitchen.(44) A small child stands or waits on the wrong side. Below, a girl, or perhaps a woman, appears to be drowning in the sea and calling for help, while a boy and girl stand on the shore.(45) In both the upper and lower halves of the drawing the girl seems to be immobilized in the wrong place. How far do watching and witnessing lead to comment and play? We know that girls in Lodz played their mothers queuing up for their vegetable rations, fighting in the queue before a pretend window and complaining about the rations they received. Their teacher, who watched their play unnoticed, recalled that a `blond girl with short stiff plaits and a long, skinny face screamed: "What a disaster! What a calamity! They swindled me, those robbers! They gave me rotten potatoes, the whole lot. What will I feed my children?"'(46) Both the game in Lodz and these pictures from Theresienstadt suggest the role of the child as witness on an adult world where the stakes and risks were enormous.
In the adult barracks, the inequalities were transparent. Norbert Troller and other memoirists have described how someone would sleep on a box full of food parcels while neighbours in the same room were hunting through the garbage or deciding whether to slice their bread ration very thin and toast the slices in order to savour them for as long as possible or eat the whole ration immediately in order to feel full for once. Hatred and envy were widely attested. In Theresienstadt, like other ghettos which had a well-developed Jewish hierarchy of authority, scarce resources were distributed unequally. Alongside official rationing, there existed a highly developed black market, as well as outright theft. At every echelon of the Economic Department, people took their cut, from the members of the Council of Elders through the provisioning administration to the bakers, butchers, cooks and ghetto police. How the pot was stirred and what sorts of spoons were used to ladle out provisions became matters of fierce -- and frequently recounted -- struggles. Survivors remember that those who were well placed within this system used their own ration cards as currency, trading them for cigarettes, clothes, apartments, prostitution and luxury food stuffs -- sugar, apples, oranges, lemons -- which had to be smuggled in or were released on to the black market from private food parcels. The only type of alcohol to be had was euphemistically called `beer' -- cold, black ersatz coffee, slightly sweetened and left to ferment in bottles for a few days. Some of the paintings produced by the group of adult artists in Theresienstadt were commissioned by this new social elite of cooks and bakers.(47)
With malnutrition came physical deterioration. Adult survivors of both Theresienstadt and the camps testify how they became completely absorbed by food fantasies, conjuring up ever more elaborate recipes for Hungarian goulash well after interest in sex had disappeared.(48) Hans Gunther Adler, the most noted survivor historian of Theresienstadt, intimates that although inmates of the ghetto never looked any more `Jewish' than any other cross-section of European humanity, there was one respect in which, he claims, they did come to resemble one another, as well as Nazi caricatures -- in the so-called `Jewish look', the hooded gaze of the exhausted, the anxious and the prematurely aged.(49) Flat-footedness became widespread; joints hardened and gestures became stiffer and more accentuated. Some writers describe feelings of perpetual irritability and a rapid decline of interest in and empathy for other people. Rations for the elderly were reduced in order to boost those of the children and those in protected jobs.(50) Mortality rates among the elderly were correspondingly very high, especially among the elderly war veterans from Germany (who had often paid very large sums of money for their places in a 'retirement home in the East'). Such a plight, Yehuda Bacon accepted in the Czech home for boys, had its counterpart in a growing contempt for the old and the weak.(51) Youth leaders like Stiassny might exhort him and his companions to maintain the scouting traditions of pre-ghetto society and help the elderly, bring them their rations from the soup kitchens, read to them and help lift their spirits, but instead the children reported how the barracks, the rooms and the very bodies of the aged `stank'.(52) This is the world Liliane Franklova's child is gazing at from the wrong side of the soup barrel.
Children endured considerable hunger, although food deprivation does not seem to have affected them as it did the elderly. Some, like the editor of the Czech boys' journal Vedem, Petr Ginz, continued to receive food parcels from home, predictably a source of much envious speculation among his room-mates.(53) In other cases, the children's homes benefited from the arrival of parcels which could not be delivered. Where the addressee had died or been deported further, the food was routinely allocated to the children's kitchens. In 1944, tins of sardines started to arrive. So did other crucial proteins: meat, salami, cheese, eggs and butter, alongside fresh and dried vegetables, onions, marmalade, chocolate and fruit. Never seen in large quantities, these objects of luxury were quite clearly fascinating. Many of them are recognizable on the labels adorning Ilona Weissova's baskets and jars (Plate 4).(54)
In Ilona Weissova's drawing the eleven-year-old stands smiling pensively surrounded by the most extraordinary foods: a not very kosher pig and hedgehog bearing fruit with forks stuck in them; a fish on a platter impaled on a fork; chickens walking up to her feet with forks sticking out of them; a winged figure delivering a basket of eggs from above; a bottle on a low trolley; jars of cocoa and coffee; and sardines, cheese, sweets, cake, milk and an apple. To remove any lingering doubt, the sign behind the girl reads `Fantasy land. Entry 1 Crown'. This picture is full of pleasurable, rounded shapes and the girl is herself decked out in a party dress, with her hair done in bunches. She smiles as if at her own reverie. Although Ilona Weissova is alone in her picture, there is an expectancy and zest for life in her `fantasy land' which suggests celebrations.(55) In genre, it is reminiscent of the themes of Breughel's Schlaraffenland, where pigs fly into the mouths of sleeping peasants (a theme given prominence in the nineteenth-century collections of fairy tales and their renditions for children). However, whereas in these tales, as in the early modern myth, Schlaraffenland provides the carnevalesque contours of a `world turned upside down', here we find a continuation of the old pre-ghetto world in Theresienstadt.(56)
Ruth Kluger describes in her memoirs how hours were devoted in the German girls' home (where she insists food was worse than in the Czech homes) to fantasizing about food while she and her friends whisked milk with a fork.(57) In a remarkable drawing, Maria Muhlsteinova makes the absence of food into the dominant feature (Plate 5).(58)
In this street scene in front of a grocery shop, two girls stand on either side of a kind-faced old woman. A street-hawker in the upper left is selling newspapers to the occupants of a bus, an everyday enough event in the pre-ghetto world but quite out of place in Theresienstadt. The dog on wheels being led on a leash in the right foreground by the older girl may refer humorously to the time before the (pre-ghetto) ban on Jews keeping pets. Or it may be intended literally to represent a toy substitute, no doubt also lost with her deportation.(59) The relationship between the two girls is unclear. Are they friends, sisters or older and younger versions of Maria? The younger one is not yet old enough to wear a Jewish star; the older one already decked out in high heels. Is the younger girl receiving the flower from the old woman Maria? Is Maria looking back at the older girl with a younger child's memories of envious admiration for the fashion and sensuality of her big sister? Both the flower and the grocery shop belong to the pre-ghetto world. Flowers in the homes existed for the most part as painted motifs, the real thing having to be smuggled in by agricultural workers at considerable risk. The very real emptiness of these imaginary shelves is reinforced by the sign above the shop, which reads Vyprodano!(sold out). A ghetto policeman directs the traffic of a pre-ghetto town.(60) Present and past are quite subsumed in these overlapping motifs.
Vera Wurzelova, Liliane Franklova, Maria Muhlsteinova and Ilona Weissova were all aged eleven or twelve. For them, food existed in a social setting. They dwelled on its distribution, its scarcity, its links to the past or its fantastical fairy-tale qualities. Their problem was accounting for the abrupt disjuncture between society before and after deportation. These were the reactions of older children. Utterly different was the response of the infants from the Theresienstadt orphanage. It is not just that different age groups ate different rations. The rations also meant different things to them.
Immediately after the war, six toddlers came to Anna Freud's war nurseries from Theresienstadt. The infants were all from the orphanage and had not been as well cared for as the children in the homes.(61) They were obsessed with food, but often would not eat it. Anything that was not made of wheat or maize, they would frequently refuse or throw on the floor. Even when they liked the food they would usually eat little. Instead, they concentrated on the things connected with food, running around, checking and rechecking the way the table was set. Above all, they were possessive about their spoons. Sophie and Gertrud Dann, the two sisters who cared for the children directly, could not understand the significance of the spoons until one of the workers from the orphanage visited them in Sussex and explained that the spoons had been the infants' one possession.
Whereas the girls in Lodz or those such as Ruth Kluger, Liliane Franklova, Maria Muhlsteinova and Vera Wurzelova in Theresienstadt all turned hunger into a social drama, the infants turned in on their own bodies. Sophie Dann and Anna Freud noted particularly prolonged thumb-sucking (as imitation `smoking') and infantile masturbation, in some cases regardless of place or occasion, strong indications of infantile regression according to the analysts. They read this search for oral and genital satisfaction as a sign of the infants' disappointment in the external world and a belief that they had to reach back into their own bodies for comfort.(62) It would be tempting to depict infant and adult behaviour as opposite ends of a spectrum of responses to physical and emotional hungers. Certainly, we find adults in the prime of life attempting to bury their extreme anxieties in multiple sexual attachments.(63) At one extreme, we find semi-autistic sexuality; at the other, promiscuity. But, in fact, the children in the homes fitted into neither of these patterns. Poised on the verge of adolescence, they were, according to memoirists, both sexually curious and sexually shy, eager to observe the romantic progress of older friends' courtships but tied more closely themselves to the dormitories they inhabited. They may have been fascinated by food, but -- perhaps because they were better fed -- they could still play with it in many ways. It was not -- or not yet -- an overpowering obsession.
The initial decisions made by the administration to protect the children and to allocate food to them at the expense of those too old or sick to work greatly affected relations between the generations. There was a double process at work here. There was the unequal distribution of food and also the ways in which different age groups expressed their anxieties about food. The gap between adults and children grew, with the children gradually separating into a social and imaginative world of their own. They may not have grasped the entire hierarchy of distribution in the ghetto through which power was brokered, but they knew that those with authority were larger than those with none. Some food fantasies, like Maria Muhlsteinova's grocery shop, evoke fragments of pre-ghetto street life, but it is a world from which their families remain stubbornly absent and where the shelves are as empty as those in Theresienstadt. In the drawings of pre-ghetto family life, the tables are not generally bare. Where it remained intact, the old world of home might offer some nourishment and comfort, which these composite social worlds failed to do.
A great deal of the girls' art dwells on the theme of home, depicting houses nestling among the hills or trees, idealized houses in the country which have little connection either with the barracks of Theresienstadt or indeed the urban environments from which so many of the girls came. Then there are also pictures which show us these homesteads nearer to hand: even if the dwellings are still probably highly stylized, the spring cleaning is boisterous and realistic enough, as clothes, rugs and even a mattress are shaken out and beaten.(64)
The theme becomes more complicated, the focus closer and more problematic, when the pictures cross the threshold and represent domesticity from the inside. In this respect, it is worth contrasting two superficially similar images of family interiors whose underlying tone is none the less subtly different. The first appears internally coherent: the activities depicted seem integrated and unproblematic (Plate 6). Here, Edita Bikkova, ten or eleven years old, places the table and chairs confidently in the centre, setting the windows in a satisfactory symmetry typical also of non-Jewish, German children's pictures of this period.(65) The precision has an optimistic air -- there are flowers on the table and in both windows. All the figures are doing something. The largest boy, in school uniform, is talking. The mother seems to be kneading dough. Only boys are present. The smallest is completing sums on a blackboard (and they all add up correctly). The curtains have a delicate floral pattern. Each child is identifiable by his clothes; the mother's costume, as befits the most important figure, is the most detailed. Even if Edita's parents and brothers were in Theresienstadt, she might only have seen them occasionally, probably during the spare time before returning to the dormitories for her evening meal. Whether remembered or imagined, the scene appears to have a reassuring quality.
In format, the second picture is similar to the first (Plate 7).(66) Three years older than Edita Bikkova, Jirina Steinerova is struggling and not quite succeeding in mastering the three-dimensionality of objects. Perhaps as compensation the details of the two rugs and the tie-backs of the curtains are very closely observed. The picture presents the interior of a living room: a woman -- the mother? -- seated at a table covered by a fringed rug reads a book. A second woman waits behind her, maybe a servant or an older daughter. In the centre of the room a table stands on another rug and in the middle of the table we have what looks like a plate with eight biscuits. All this suggests order, cleanliness and comfort. But where is Jirina herself? Is she present only in the guise of the portrait of the girl hanging on the wall? Below the portrait, a figure seems to have been rubbed out and replaced with the lines of the wall. The exacting details of this picture have a rather disturbing impact. There is the child's literalness -- the painstaking representation of the fringes and geometric patterns of the two carpets, of the curtains with their tie-backs and pelmet board -- perhaps all objects in her own past which she was fascinated by at a younger age and which are now recalled with longing in a place without carpets, let alone family life. Or, they may be no more than a compensation through detail for a lack of technical confidence. There is also the cramped immobility of the figures, possibly again just a lack of artistic technique like her inability to master perspective, were it not for the strange portrait of the girl on the wall, trapped in her frame, unable to enter the room that she is observing. Yet Jirina Steinerova's home, like Edita Bikkova's, remains intact, a world complete in itself, not invaded by the jumbled juxtaposition of different realities and times that is present in Maria Muhlsteinova's scene of street life. In both of these pictures of interiors the intricate details reinforce the sense of a discrete time and space. They are painstakingly drawn and have nothing to do with the world of Theresienstadt.
Two further pictures contrast strongly with this careful guarding of memory, of the former family home as a separate and inviolate place. In the first, the world of the ghetto suddenly and quite un-self-consciously manifests itself in the otherwise intact old home; in the second, the drawing appears itself to unfold out of an attempt to link the new world back to the old.
In Zuzana Winterova's drawing, the orderly household takes on the form of a triptych (Plate 8). The room below is neat and bright.(67) A lamp hangs over the table. Flower pots stand in the windows. The two chairs are confidently and squarely placed; the children added rather hastily to complete the scene. Above, the mother cleans, while the father reads his newspaper. Although both are facing the viewer, only the father is powerful enough to stare back at us, his eyes and eyebrows beetling over the paper. And here the old structure slips. The headline on his newspaper reads Tagesbehfel, a misspelling of 'Order of the Day'. Posted in the ghetto by the Council, in response to verbal instructions from the SS, the Order of the Day would have been read out to Zuzana in the morning assembly by the head of her home.(68) In her picture, she has effectively turned her father into the head of the home, or possibly vice versa, fatally undermining an otherwise consistent attempt to preserve the past intact. None the less, in its other details her drawing also guards the ideal of a stable and secure family life.
This is not to say that children avoided the subject of the dormitories in which they actually lived.(69) In one of this type, ten-year-old Hana Seinerova turns the paper as she struggles with three-dimensional objects, drawing the bunks first from the side and then from the end.(70) This leads up to the top right, where what looks like kitchen utensils hang from a pair of shelves beneath a picture (or possibly a window on to a kitchen garden), a comforting domestic scene juxtaposed with the empty bunks devoid of objects. Why are there no figures? Did she feel incapable of drawing them satisfactorily or was it simply that she had already drawn the central objects which carried her attachments?(71) In any case, more than the other drawings, this one lacks any sense of premeditated composition, its very technical naivete allowing the unconscious associations to emerge onto the paper (Plate 9).
A similar associative narrative, though in this case a more controlled one, is evident in one of Josef Novak's drawings (Plate 10).(72) One of the most unusual of the few boys' efforts to survive, he starts from `home' and takes the viewer on a disturbing and ultimately frightening journey. The work is divided horizontally. In the top left, a road leads to two houses with smoke rising from chimneys among trees, all indicating security and contentment, much like Vera Lowyova's and the other girls' pictures of houses in the country. Then the mood changes abruptly. In the top centre, a man, or perhaps a boy, clings to a lamp post as a dog approaches him. Although the dog does not seem savage, this may be a matter of technical control: we know that some boys in Theresienstadt were, not very surprisingly, left with a lifelong fear of dogs.(73) Below, the drawing crosses another boundary: a hanged man is being collected for burial while the rabbi waits with the coffin on a trolley. There is no intrinsic link between the three scenes, although they tell a story of sorts. Both the house and the gallows are stereotypical rather than literal. Although some of the boys from Novak's room knew (and claim to have liked) the hangman, he does not accurately depict a Theresienstadt hanging.(74) And yet the figures themselves are drawn carefully and endowed with individuality. Novak's sketch has a more deliberate narrative sequence than Hana Seinerova's bunk beds, but he too may have composed as he drew, not really certain beforehand how the sketch would work out. It is as if the dissociation of events could only be represented through the horizontal movement downwards through sharply differentiated time.
The underlying theme here, which I think helps to clarify the emotional content of these pictures as a whole, concerns their sense of time and place. The pre-ghetto world and the ghetto world stood, in reality, in sharp contrast to each other. The transition from the one to the other was in practice abrupt and brutal. Detail in the pictures, however, often merges past and present. Is Maria Muhlsteinova's grocery meant to be in Theresienstadt or not? There were none there. Is her ghetto policeman directing traffic signalling to an imaginary bus, or is the policeman imaginary and the bus real? There were no buses in Theresienstadt either. If things have changed in a picture like this one, then we are not shown the moment of change itself. Instead, we are offered a composite of both worlds, together with some elements, such as the dog on wheels, which may not have literally belonged in either. This urge to merge the past and present contrasts strongly with what child-welfare workers like Rosa Englander expected. `The children', she wrote for a teachers' meeting at the time, `who are not yet able consciously to grasp the causes of their experience in Theresienstadt, find no links with their former lives, because children of this age live only in the present'.(75)
A number of pictures are striking precisely by their refusal to live only in the present. Instead, they juxtapose objects, persons and events from the pre-ghetto and the ghetto worlds. It is as if the children were trying to integrate them into a single image. But the effect is not always the same. In carefully shaped works, like Maria Muhlsteinova's, this composite world may or may not have been intended. It could be deliberate irony. It might be real confusion. In Zuzana Winterova's triptych of home, the false headline on her father's paper has more of the quality of a verbal slip -- as Tageszeitung [Daily News] slides into Tagesbehfel [Daily Order] -- a forced concession by the family patriarch to the real power of the ghetto authorities. And in Josef Novak's drawing the fantastical sequence of thought travels from home to the dog and lamp post and on to the hanging in the dissociative descent of a nightmare. There is also some pattern to these slips and efforts at merging and blending time. With the exception of Winterova's newspaper headline, the pictures of pre-ghetto home interiors tend to preserve their intact and separate wholeness. There are no ghetto policemen. None of the people in them wears the star of David so carefully observed in the other depictions of Jews. It is outside the parental home that time and circumstance are so malleable. By merging the present and the past in a single drawing, the movement of time is eliminated. History and chronology are denied in an attempt to heal the rupture.
What comes to be selected in these sorts of merging is not arbitrary. Street life is malleable where family and home often refuse to be. Home, in the ghetto present, as in the bunk beds drawn by Hana Seinerova, does not yet possess the magical permanence of home in the pre-ghetto past. The future becomes a time and place before the world went wrong; utopia, family domesticity which needs to be regained.
Some events and people are notable also by their absence. In drawings of everyday life in the ghetto we do not see the `good' life and the `bad' represented on the same page. We have pictures of ghetto games and prams under the trees of the park, and we have drawings of the sick and elderly on the street, but not at one and the same time.(76) Such compartmentalization tends to reinforce, rather than to close, the break between ghetto and pre-ghetto worlds (Plates 11-12).(77)
Yet, the reality of daily life in Theresienstadt, as in other ghettos and camps, abruptly juxtaposed children playing and the aged dying in the same street. In contrast to children in the Warsaw ghetto who were observed simply ignoring a corpse that got in the way of their game of horses and drivers, the children in the homes in Theresienstadt still displayed great concern and curiosity for the plight of adults.(78) The boys describe the idealism of the doctors and nurses who worked in the hospitals and the morgue.(79) Twelve-year-old Eva Schulzova drew them with remarkable skill and sympathy. We know too that children in Theresienstadt sometimes took over the care of parents and older relatives too weak or disheartened to look after themselves. As Yehuda Bacon describes, however, the more he took over the parenting of his father (which he continued in Auschwitz-Birkenau), the stronger grew his own emotional identification with his `house' in the Czech boys' home. Arguably, it was the homes which nurtured and fostered such strong emotional bonds to his peer group.(80) The children could not, or at least did not, represent both the everyday world of their games and the everyday world of adult distress side by side. This, I think, bespeaks a hiving off of the emotions, a break intensified with the increasing separation of the two worlds.
In more extreme conditions, as in the Warsaw ghetto, children simply abandoned the adult world and retreated into the world of their games. The children of Theresienstadt maintained a role in both worlds, but they were increasingly separate ones. This separation seems at odds with their continuing attachment to their parental homes. It also marks out a way that children perpetuated a sense of their own individual histories at the same time that they were being drawn into a strong sense of collective destiny in the children's homes. What appears to be going on here is that the children were nurturing a secret inner image of the idealized parental homes they came from, at the same time that they were accepting that much of the rest of their social universe had dissolved around them. Some cases may, of course, have been far more complicated than this. Dicker-Brandeis cites, for example, the case of a girl who had been abused in an orphanage prior to her deportation to Theresienstadt. Her early pictures of `home' lacked structure and the doors and windows were barred, as befitted the closed regime of the orphanage in which she had been confined. As she received care and became more settled in Theresienstadt, her pictures of `home' began to show a cosy environment, remarkably similar to `generic' drawings of `home' by Edita Bikkova or Karin Isolde Lehmann.(81) However much Theresienstadt's Zionist and Communist youth workers strove to instil belief in a collectivist future, utopia for these child artists lay in the family and the past. Striking in this regard is Bacon's recent reflection on the changing pattern of his dreams: in Theresienstadt, he tells us, he dreamt of his old home; in Auschwitz-Birkenau, this was too remote and he dreamt, instead, of the Czech home for boys in Theresienstadt.(82) Set against the process by which Bacon transferred his primary allegiances from family to peer group, the artworks composed while the girls were in Theresienstadt stand midway along this transformation. They are still dreaming of their old homes.
As Marion Milner put it, the very act of creation involves a special type of absent-mindedness, an ability to plunge into a reverie and allow things to emerge from apparent oblivion.(83) Reveries can themselves have therapeutic effects. They also require special conditions. Some children, like Alice Sommer's seven-year-old son, Rafael, submerged themselves in the musical art of their parents.(84) Yehuda Bacon was drawn to painting by being allowed to watch and study adult artists like Leo Haas, Otto Ungar and Bedrich Fritta.(85) More than Dicker-Brandeis's own description of what she attempted to do in her classes, the concentrated focus her pupils put into composing their pictures itself tells us that they felt safe and secure while engaged in painting and drawing. Even if the results tell a story of confused and contradictory emotional responses -- to want to merge the past with the present and to want to split it off were contradictory urges -- they also tell us that the homes gave them the support to do so.
Looking at children's paintings for what they meant at the time of their creation involves thinking about children as historical subjects. This runs against much of the grain of the historiography of childhood, which has tended to concentrate on changing attitudes towards children by the writers of advice books, by parents, medical experts and the state. All of this is important in building up a sense of context.(86) Yet we are still short of models for writing the history of children's subjectivity. The problem of how to relate physical experience to emotional response in the children of Theresienstadt is extremely complex. Compared with what we know had already happened to these children -- exclusion, harassment, loss of possessions and home, and deportation to a strange, impoverished and over-crowded environment where most adults lost authority and many lost even their own self-respect -- their paintings appear remarkably unaffected. This was also a behavioural characteristic which preoccupied Anna Freud when she began to work with children who had escaped or survived Nazi persecution. She was greatly surprised by the apparent absence of powerful emotion:
We do not know which aspect or element of an experience will be selected for cathexis and emotional involvement ... Where [in studying war and concentration camp children] we expected to unearth buried memories of death, destruction, violence, hatred, etc., we usually found the traces of separations, motor restrictions, deprivations (of toys, pleasures) ... I was impressed in this respect by the story of a boy who at four and half years, had escaped with his family from enemy-occupied territory. A subsequent analysis showed which element of the experience had been singled out for traumatic value: he had suffered a severe shock from the fact that the invaders had deprived his father of his car.(87)
Anna Freud interpreted this deprivation of the car as meaning that `his father had been robbed of his potency'.(88) But what is so striking is the minimalization of the event to which it is tied. A car, however costly, can be replaced. Nina Weilova was ten when she was deported from Prague to Theresienstadt. In her memoir she chronicles her passage, not through her own sufferings, but by the injuries inflicted upon her doll.(89) It is as if she was withdrawing from the situation and seeing it through the eyes of a third person -- except that this third person was a thing, her doll.
The trait which links Anna Freud's patients with the child artists of Theresienstadt is their failure in the main to register the violence which constantly endangered daily life in the ghetto. But whether the girls' reticence here should be attributed to trauma or whether it was itself part of a coping strategy shaped in the supportive context of the art classes must remain a moot point. From what we already know of Dicker-Brandeis's willingness to acknowledge what she recognized as the `preadolescent sadistic urges' in her pupils' work, it seems unlikely that she censored images of violence out of their art. Rather, one might be tempted to interpret this absence to gender-specific causes: we do, after all, have Josef Novak's hanging as well as at least one other image of death, this time a skeleton with a scythe standing near the faces of a woman and a man.(90) Certainly, there are recognizable differences in the pictures left behind by boys and girls. Boys, like Josef Kraus, drew the newly constructed railway sidings, his picture full of mechanical contraptions but devoid of people.(91)
From these samples one might be inclined to conclude that the single-sex character of the homes prompted a gendered engagement with the adult world: boys thinking about violence, death, machinery and flight in the present; girls preoccupied with flowers, family and home in the past.(92) Boys may have been curious about mechanics and railways and girls less so, but their responses to Theresienstadt were not as differently gendered as these examples might suggest. The girls painted most of their pictures in a guided environment, whereas the boys had few if any art classes. When, however, we compare boys' and girls' `free' drawings, we find the same struggle to integrate pre-ghetto and ghetto time in both, as in the associative development in the drawings of `home' by Josef Novak and Hana Seinerova.
Two other pieces of evidence also speak against such a straightforward gender divide. First, we have the drawings of Gretel Bechtold, a fifteen-year-old, non-Jewish, German girl who lived in Freiburg. She composed unremittingly bleak images of the destruction of war.(93) But this was in 1937, while war was still only an imaginary subject for reflection. Secondly, we know from Bacon that the utopia of `home' was a dream coveted by girls and boys alike. What we seem to be witnessing in Theresienstadt instead, are children choosing -- whether deliberately or unconsciously -- material which offers the general prospect of comfort. Such choices underline also the difference between the relative security of life within the children's homes and the profoundly insecure ghetto world they ventured out into. We only glimpse the objects of threat and fear when this general frame slips. This discovery of hidden material, like the `Order of the Day', serves both to reveal levels of anxiety and confusion belied by the ostensible subject of the picture and to remind us that the artist may not have intended or even known that the final drawing would carry such a message.
Any comparison between pictures composed at the time of incarceration in Theresienstadt and post-war testimony, such as Nina Weilova's account of the injuries inflicted on her doll, poses the question of when an experience assumes its definitive shape. If the first reaction of the child is to shield herself from the full emotional meaning of the attacks on herself and those she loves by directing them at a loved object instead, then is there ever a point at which we can say what it was that she experienced?
One of the most widely available types of source material on children's subjectivity is adult recollection, whether as autobiographical memoir or, for the recent past, the oral history interview. In such sources the task of translating children's experience into the language of adults has been accomplished for us. But this also erects a barrier. As oral historians have recognized, memory tends to impose its own narrative structures on the telling which, even if no less accurate than those shaped at the time, are none the less distinct.(94) There are historical problems which lend themselves to this sort of approach: the impact, in the interwar years, of the First World War upon their mentality of Germans who had been too young to fight in it; or, still more prominently, survivors' narratives of the Holocaust. In these cases the questions which the historian might ask -- about the long-term impact of such experience -- run in the same direction as the source material itself. This is also an area in which historians can glean much from psychoanalysis, precisely because so much analytical work tends in the same evolutionary direction, towards understanding what future meaning experiences carry.(95) This commonality of approach between the two disciplines does not hold, I would argue, when we look at experiential material in a specific historical moment.
Records produced at the time when the future really was unknown to their authors disclose a particular quality of experience. A small group of Czech boys who produced the weekly journal, Vedem, recorded their `Rambles through Terezin'. The goals of their first visits included the morgue and the newly built crematorium. There may have been nothing more in their account of the workings and capacity of the crematorium than a boyish enthusiasm for technological mastery, as well as an adolescent fascination with the fate of the dead. It is, of course, hard to read such journal entries strictly historically and ignore the parallels with the gas chambers and incinerators of Auschwitz-Birkenau in which most of them would later perish. Yet What have become powerful symbols of the Holocaust to us did not have this significance to the young teenagers of Theresienstadt. The mainly Czech and German children of Theresienstadt apparently knew little of their fate. Although they certainly would have seen random daily acts of SS brutality in the ghetto, they had not, in contrast to many Polish Jewish children, for instance, witnessed mass beatings and shootings.(96) Theresienstadt may not have been actually cut off from communication with the outside world, yet the adult world of the ghetto seems to have turned away from the prospect of where deportation `to the East' might actually lead.(97) One of the rituals which accompanied notification of a second deportation -- out of Theresienstadt -- was the packing of the regulation 50 kg of permitted luggage. The Terezin Museum has a doll in its collection of a child wearing the Jewish Star and carrying a small suitcase, suggesting that children participated in this ritual of packing as well. Few refused to involve themselves in such preparations and acknowledge them to be useless.
If we are to regard the artefacts which the children produced as historical sources, then we too have to view them afresh and without the benefit of seeing where the railway tracks led next. The children knew neither their own fates nor what conditions were like in the other ghettos and camps of Eastern Europe. That their particular combination of transit camp, ghetto, propaganda film set and cultural capital of incarcerated Jewry was unique would have been a notion as remote as the mass extermination for which they were themselves intended. For most, Theresienstadt simply marked their first deportation and their entry into a new, separate and enclosed world. This too marks the Czech inmates out from many others who had been exposed to other -- and worse -- transit and concentration camps, such as Westerbork or Bergen Belsen, en route. It may be precisely because for the Czech children Theresienstadt was their first and not very distant deportation that the pre-ghetto world remained so fresh and memorable.
The children's art of Theresienstadt places demands on the viewer which are very different from those raised by survivors' memories. We know too little to attempt to write individual biographies. Most did not survive and it is their work in Theresienstadt that we know them by. We need to think about subjectivity in a synchronic and collective sense, rather than in the diachronic terms of individual biography -- as the frozen moments of a social history lived in a very particular time and location. We have to content ourselves with a series of snapshots which take their context for granted, instead of the particular snapshots they might have chosen to integrate into a larger narrative. Although the Theresienstadt girls' pictures all contain narratives of one kind or another, we have no way of knowing whether these are the only stories they would have wanted to tell about themselves at that time, let alone subsequently. It is the involuntary quality of their communications which makes them so revealing. It also takes the historian away from the search for an integrated, individual narrative across time, a quest abandoned by many novelists decades ago.
Instead, we are left with the collective narrative of a particular group of children during their moments at one of the halting places of the `final solution'. During this first deportation, children made sense of their new relationships and surroundings to a considerable extent in terms of the worlds they had lost. For many, this was the world of family and home. Although many had parents, uncles and aunts, siblings and cousins gathered together in Theresienstadt also, this does not seem to have prevented such a sense of loss. The affective bonds were no longer the same. In their pictures, the girls expressed the rupture between past and present in complex ways. We find an idealization of parents as they were, masters of their own domestic space, accompanied by an increasing distance from what they had become. The former home life of the family is carefully cordoned off and preserved intact; adult dormitories in the ghetto are not explored and the children's own dormitories can still lead back to the family's kitchen and vegetable plot.
The child artists only acknowledge and visually appropriate their present conditions partially. The underlying structure of the artworks may help us to see the faint lines of a moral and emotional map. On this map utopia is clearly fixed as the B idealized -- parental home. The everyday world of the street is not so unequivocally located in the one world or the other. But here too a pattern becomes clear if we consider its representation in terms of a two-fold process of division. First, the worst objects of fear and anxiety -- violence and deportation -- remain almost entirely invisible. Secondly, systematic, if unconscious choices are made between what can and what cannot be combined in a single picture. While a ghetto policeman may direct a bus, as a link between the everyday worlds of past and present, children do not play, as they genuinely did, alongside the old and sick. It is equally important to note here that the sick and dying do not disappear from view entirely either, as they appear to have done in other camps and ghettos. If social relations and the values they embody are reordered in the artworks along concentric lines emanating from the new peer group of the children's homes, then the homes and the security they provided also seem to have slowed the emotional withdrawal from the adult world which is so noticeable in children abandoned to the everyday world of ghetto and transit camp.
This process of emotional and moral reordering was not an automatic one. Where the mask slips we can see the inner conflicts involved, as in the associations which lead back from the children's dormitory in Theresienstadt to the kitchen at home, or in the Freudian slip whereby the `Order of the Day' appears as the headline of the father's newspaper, or in the picture of the girl unable to climb out of her frame on the wall and re-enter the family living room. Yet, even in those drawings where we can witness the conflict between integrating and separating these various worlds, it is impossible to take the measure of the emotional conflicts involved. As Nina Weilova's use of her doll to suffer in her place reminds us, we cannot ever know quite what lies behind even seemingly optimistic artworks. What we can glean is what some of these conflicts were and how the children of Theresienstadt expressed them in art.
(*) My warm thanks for comments and suggestions on drafts of this work go to David Blackbourn, Karl Braun, Ruth Harris, Wilma Iggers, All Ludtke, Hans Medick, Daniel Pick, Bernd Weisbrod and, most especially, to Lyndal Roper. I would also like to thank the archivists in the Jewish Museum in Prague and the Terezin Memorial, in particular Anita Frankova and Michaela Hajkova. I am also grateful to the Alexander yon Humboldt Foundation for financial support.
(1) Archive of the Jewish Museum, Prague, Terezin Collection (hereafter JMPTC), 304, Albert Fischer MS, report on the first year of 1,417, the Czech boys' home. Throughout the article I have referred to the ghetto by its German name, Theresienstadt -- in much the same way as Auschwitz is known by its German rather than Polish name -- reverting to its Czech variant, Terezin, after the ghetto's liberation (10 May 1945). I have also tried to refer to people by the version of their name that they preferred at the time, despite the fact that this leads, on occasion, to linguistic mixes: e.g., Maria [German] Muhlsteinova [Czech].
(2) From 28 September to 28 October, eleven transports carried 18,402 people from Theresienstadt; at the beginning of November, the gassing at Auschwitz-Birkenau was stopped. On the deportations from Theresienstadt, see Anita Frankova, `Die Struktur der aus dem Ghetto Theresienstadt zusammengestellten Transporte (1942-1944)', Judaica Bohemiae, ii (1989).
(3) A total of approximately 12,000 children passed through Theresienstadt. At any one time, children under the age of fifteen numbered between 2,700 and 3,875, approximately half of whom lived in the (voluntary) children's homes, the remainder living usually with one or other parent in the adult, single-sex barracks. After the deportations of September and October 1944, only 819 children were left. This figure had virtually doubled by May 1945, largely due to the arrival of further transports of Slovak Jews, as well as the survivors of evacuation and death marches. See Hans Gunther Adler, Theresienstadt, 1941-1945: Das Antlitz einer Zwangsgemeinschaft, 2nd edn (Tubingen, 1960), 315. As late as 20 March 1945, a new children's home was established by order of the SS to impress Red Cross inspectors that nothing had changed since their previous visit in the summer of 1944: Hans Gunther Adler, Die verheimlichte Wahrheit: Theresienstadter Dokumente (Tubingen, 1958), 222-4. Willy Groag became the head of this home and the last head of the Jugendfursorge in Theresienstadt: see JMPTC, 343, fos. 88-9, Willy Groag interview with Ben-David Gershon, Kibbutz Maanith, 17 Oct. 1965.
(4) For one of several published collections, see Children's Drawings from the Concentration Camp of Terezin (Prague, n.d.).
(5) Such representation would have had to be of a nonliteral kind: the key group of adult painters were apprehended, interrogated and most of them killed by the SS precisely for depicting the miseries of daily life. On the Theresienstadt artists, see Leo Haas, `The Affair of the Painters of Terezin', in Massachusetts College of Arts (ed.). Seeing through `Paradise': Artists and the Terezin Concentration Camp (Boston, 1991); Gerald Green, The Artists of Terezin (New York, 1978); Pamatnik Terezin (ed.), Leo Haas (Terezin, 1969); also Pamatnik Terezin (ed.), Arts in Terezin, 1941-1945 (Terezin, 1973); Wolf Wagner, Der Holle entronnen: Stationen eines Lebens: Eine Biographie des Malers und Graphikers Leo Haas (Berlin, 1987); Karl Braun, `Peter Kien oder Asthetik als Widerstand', in Miroslav Karny, Raimund Kemper and Margita Karna (eds.), Theresienstadter Studien und Dokumente (Prague, 1995).
(6) On Friedl Dicker-Brandeis's work, see especially the outstanding exhibition catalogues of Elena Makarova, From Bauhaus to Terezin: Friedl Dicker-Brandeis and her Pupils (Jerusalem, 1990); Stadt Frankfurt, Vom Bauhaus nach Terezin: Friedl Dicker-Brandeis und die Kinderzeichnungen aus dem Ghetto-Lager Theresienstadt (Frankfurt, 1991); see also Edith Kramer, `Erinnerungen an Friedl Dicker-Brandeis', Mit der Zieharmonika (special issue, Zeitschrift der Theodor-Kramer-Gesellschaft, iii, Sept. 1988), 1-2; Vilem Benda's memoirs are in JMPTC, 343/5.
(7) See Makarova, From Bauhaus to Terezin, 26, 30; JMPTC, 326, Friedl Dicker-Brandeis MS, fos. 12 and 15.
(8) See Makarova, From Bauhaus to Terezin, 28-9; Stadt Frankfurt, Vom Bauhaus nach Terezin, frontispiece, 34ff.
(9) See, for example, collages in JMPTC, 174.696, anon.; 137.749, anon.; 129.764, anon.; 129.750, Ruth Schadler; 121.766, Alicia Sittigova; 129.749, Tomas Lederer; crayons in 121.563, Nelly Silvinova; 125.741, Lira Schlesinger; 121.908, Irina Karpeles (who includes a village with church and Christian graveyard); 133.287, anon. Another important technique taught was a type of applique, where shapes were cut out of coloured tissue paper, which was then stuck on to a white paper backing to reveal tea pots and cups, as in these two examples: JMPTC, 133.579, anon.; JMPTC, 129.043, Schulzova. Among the fairy-tale motifs, Doris Zdekauerova depicts a girl, or princess, with a dragon: JMPTC, 129.371; the same motif appears in JMPTC, 133.550. Liliane Franklova, in an embroidered picture on an old form, shows the devil with horns and a child in a basket: JMPTC, 129.785. For further such embroidered work, both of flowers, see JMPTC, 129.782, 129.787.
(10) For examples of abstract, geometric woven mats, see JMPTC, 121.530, anon.; JMPTC, 121.564/2, anon.
(11) For two examples of seder meals, see JMPTC, 133.418, Hana Wajlova; and 174.074, Berta Kohnova.
(12) For pastoral watercolours, see JMPTC 129.216, Loomy Silovsky (remarkable for including a sunset over water); 125.519, Eva Weinsteinerova; 121.822, Anna Flach; 121.694, Vera Wurzelova; 121.662, Karpedes [Irina Karpeles?] (one of the few to include a person; in this case, a man wearing a beret following two goats); 121.552, Malvina Low[y]ova; 129.752, Trude Hofmeister; 131.731, Doris Weiser; 133.025, Eva Steinova; 135.110, anon. Many of these contain houses, sometimes with smoke rising from the chimney.
(13) See for example, Lenka Lindtova's watercolour of green grasses in a jar (JMPTC, 121.840) and her beautifully executed pair of wooden shoes, one lying over the other (JMPTC, 121.837); for further vases of flowers, see JMPTC, 121.829, B. L. Weismanova; JMPTC, 121.874, Ruth Gutmann (the hand of the teacher seems evident on the left side of this painting); JMPTC, 133.042 (revers), Hana Kalichova; Zuzana Weissova also depicts wooden shoes, this time in a more imaginary setting, under a single bed with a well-fluffed duvet, and beside a chamber-pot: JMPTC, 121.828.
(14) JMPTC, 121.869, Helga Pollak.
(15) See Helga Pollak's interview comments in Deborah Dwork, Children with a Star: Jewish Youth in Nazi Europe (New Haven, 1991), 126-9; also her remarks on video: Terezin Foundation, Terezin Diary (1992). Extracts from her diary are printed in F. Ehrmann (ed.), Terezin (Prague, 1965).
(16) JMPTC, 129.758, Vita Lowyova.
(17) JMPTC 326, Friedl Dicker-Brandeis MS, fo. 8. The picture is possibly JMPTC 129.751, anon.
(18) JMPTC, 304, Dicker-Brandeis MS, `Kinderzeichnen'; JMPTC, 326, untitled manuscript notes for a talk on the same. For the festival programme in Theresienstadt, see JMPTC, 305, Jugendfursorge, Heim 414. The enthusiasm of the new pedagogues for art classes is conveyed in JMPTC, 304, Berta Freund MS, `Erziehung ist Kunst -- Kunst ist Erziehung'.
(19) JMPTC, 326, Dicker-Brandeis MS, fo. 12.
(20) See Maureen Cox, Children's Drawings (London, 1992), for an informative introduction to the cognitive psychology of children's art.
(21) See Philippe Aries, L'Enfant et la vie familiale sous l'Ancien Regime (Paris, 1960). On the use of art as a source, see Simon Schama, The Embarrassment of Riches: An Interpretation of Dutch Culture in the Golden Age (London, 1987), 481-561; Jeroen J. H. Dekker, `Messaggio e realta: il significato pedagogico e morale dell'iconografia sull'educazione dei bambini nella pittura olandese di genere del XVII secolo', in Egle Becchi and Dominique Julia (eds.), Storia dell'infanzia, i, Dall'antichita al seicento (Bari, 1996).
(22) JMPTC, 326, Dicker-Brandeis MS, fo. 13.
(23) Melanie Klein, The Psychoanalysis of Children (London, 1989), 37-8. On Erna's drawings, see also Heinz Weiss and Claudia Frank, `Rekonstruktion des Wurzburger Falles "Erna" von Melanie Klein', in Heinz Weiss and Hermann Lang (eds.), Psychoanalyse heute und vor 70 Jahren: Zur Erinnerung an die `1. Deutsche Zusammenkunft der Psychoanalyse' am 11. und 12. Oktober 1924 in Wurzburg (Tubingen, 1996).
(26) JMPTC, 125.433, Raja Englander (born 25 Aug. 1929; deported to Theresienstadt 30 Jan. 1942; survived), pencil line drawing.
(25) See Sigmund Freud, The Psychopathology of Everyday Life, ed. and trans. John Strachey (New York, 1989), for Freud's most famous exposition of this technique.
(26) For an annotated collection of the art works of Jewish children in Dusseldorf between the Nuremberg Laws and the `final solution', see Sybil Milton, The Art of Jewish Children: Germany, 1936-1941: Innocence and Persecution (New York, 1989); for a general introduction to painting and drawings from the Holocaust, see Janet Blatter and Sybil Milton, Art of the Holocaust (New York, 1981); Mary S. Constanza, The Living Witness: Art in the Concentration Camps and Ghettos (New York, 1981); Nelly Toll, Without Surrender: Art of the Holocaust (Philadelphia, 1978).
(27) On the use of Theresienstadt for Nazi propaganda, see Arnold Munter, `Ein Augenzeuge berichtet aus dem Ghetto Theresienstadt', in Heinz Kuhnrich (ed.), Judenmorder Eichmann (Berlin, 1961), 147-9; Stefan Wolfber, `Propaganda und Wirklichkeit: der Nazi-Propagandafilm "Theresienstadt"', Tribune, cxix (1991); also, esp. Karl Margry, `Der Nazi Film uber Theresienstadt', in Miroslav Karny, Vojtech Blodig and Margita Karna (eds.), Theresienstadt in der `Endlosung der Judenfrage' (Prague, 1992).
(28) See JMPTC, 318, for material on cabarets and Brundibar; JMPTC, 326/67c, for the text and music of Carlo and Erika Taube, `Ein judisches Kind'; JMPTC, 326/87b, Erika Taube [?], `Theresienstadter Skizzenbuch: Gedanken im Ghetto'; Ilse Weber's poetry has been published as Ilse Weber, In deinen Mauern wohnt das Leid: Gedichte aus dem KZ Theresienstadt (Gerlingen, 1991). See JMPTC, 305, for the festival programme of the German home LA14, 4-8 Sept. 1943. See also the published collection of songs and satires in Ulrike Migdal, Und die Musik spielt dazu: Chansons und Satirien aus dem KZ Theresienstadt (Munich, 1986). For a general account, see also Joza Karas, Music in Terezin, 1941-1945 (New York, 1985).
(29) On the Dutch transit camp of Westerbork, see Jacob Boas, Boulevard des Miseres: The Story of Transit Camp Westerbork (Hamden, 1985), 113 ff.; J. G. Fisher, The Persistence of Youth: Oral Testimonies of the Holocaust (New York, 1991), 44; more generally, see Dwork, Children with a Star, 122-4, 176-88; George Eisen, Children and Play in the Holocaust (Amherst, 1988), 24-7, esp. 35-57. Emil Utitz, who ran the library in Theresienstadt, suggested in his psychological profile of life in the ghetto that establishing the Jugendfursorge and the children's homes also helped to raise the morale of the adults by creating an imaginable future among ghetto inhabitants who were turning in their search for self-worth increasingly towards introspective nostalgia, greatly exaggerating their pre-Nazi status and achievements: Emil Utitz, Psychologie des Lebens im Konzentrationslager Theresienstadt (Vienna, 1948), 22-8.
(30) On games in other ghettos and camps, see Eisen, Children and Play, 76-81; on Vilnius, see Mark Dvorjetski, `Adjustment of Detainees to Camp and Ghetto Life', Yad Vashem Studies, v (1963). On the football matches in Theresienstadt, see Marie Ruth Krizkova, Kurt Jiri Kotouc and Zdenek Ornest (eds.), We Are Children Just the Same: Vedem, the Secret Magazine of the Boys of Terezin (Philadelphia, 1995), 51-2; Azriel Eisenberg (ed.), Witness to the Holocaust (New York, 1981), 340-1. See also JMPTC, 125.746, for Vera Kohn's pencil drawing of children playing a ball-game near one of the control gates of the ghetto.
(31) For one girl's account of living with her grandmother, see Adler, Theresienstadt, 557-8.
(32) Yehuda Bacon, `Muj zivot v Terrezine' [My Life in Terezin], MS, Jerusalem, 1947; for the German translation, see Adler, Theresienstadt, 553. The teachers even issued certificates and diplomas: J. Jacobson, Terezin: The Daily Life, 1943-45 (London, 1946).
(33) Helga Pollak, diary entry for 6 May 1943, in Ehrmann (ed.), Terezin, 103. Two autobiographical poems by German boys (both with Jewish fathers) survive on the plight of the Mischlinge: JMPTC, 325, anon.; ibid., Matthias. On friendships, see also Ruth Kluger, Weiter Leben: Eine Jugend (Gottingen, 1992), 88-90; she even thought that the close emotional ties she developed in Theresienstadt cured her of the nervous ticks which she put down to her solitary childhood in Vienna (102). Zdenek Ohrenstein (Ornest) and Hanus Hachenburg, two of the contributors to Vedem, also became very close friends from their time in the Prague orphanage until separated by deportation from Theresienstadt: Krizkova, Kotouc and Ornest (eds.), We Are Children Just the Same, 113. On Christian worship in Theresienstadt, see Clara Eisenkraft, Damals in Theresienstadt: Erlebnisse einer Judenchristin (Wuppertal, 1977), 48-54; also Stadtarchiv Munich, Fam. 672/2, Karin Vrieslander MS, `K.-Z. Theresienstadt'.
(34) On Eisinger, see Krizkova, Kotouc and Ornest (eds.), We Are Children Just the Same, 40. When a German in uniform walked through the Warsaw ghetto, the children mocked him by mimicking obsequiousness, bowing and doffing their caps profusely. `They ran up to him a hundred and one times', Chaim Kaplan noted in his diary, `taking off their hats in his honour. They gathered in great numbers, with an artificial look of awe on their faces and would not stop taking off their hats'. See Chaim Aron Kaplan, The Warsaw Diary of Chaim Kaplan, ed. A. I. Katsh (New York, 1973), 154, cited in Eisen, Children and Play, 86-7. The Jews of the Theresienstadt ghetto were ordered not to doff their hats any longer in preparation for the inspection visit of the International Red Cross in 1944.
(35) See Helga Pollak's interview with Deborah Dwork, in Dwork, Children with a Star, 128.
(36) See M. Kryl, `Das Tagebuch Egon Redlichs', in Karny, Blodig and Karna (eds.), Theresienstadt in der `Endlosung der Judenfrage', 152-3. In general, see Nili Keren, `Ein padagogisches Poem', ibid., 157-8; R. Bondy, `Elder of the Jews': Jakob Edelstein of Theresienstadt (New York, 1989). The other leading figure in the Jugendfursorge was `Fredy' Hirsch, who fascinated the children with his sporting prowess and irritated some of his colleagues with his spivvy dressing and lack of learning: he was instrumental in creating facilities and a routine for the Theresienstadt children with whom he was deported in 1943 to the so-called `family camp' in Auschwitz-Birkenau (a temporary preparation for a visit from the International Red Cross which never took place). See JMPTC, 343, fos. 54-8, Willy Groag interview with Ben-David Gershon, Kibbutz Maanith, 17 Oct. 1965; JMPTC, 343, Elisabeth Kuerti MS, `In Memoriam Fredy Hirsch!', 1990.
(37) Krizkova, Kotouc and Ornest (eds.), We Are Children Just the Same, 161. Among the adult population there were conflicts between Germans and Czechs, as well as between Czech- and German-speakers from the `Protectorate': Ruth Schwertfeger, Women of Theresienstadt (New York, 1989), 33-8; Adler, Theresienstadt, 303. The Czech children, even from the more German-orientated communities of Prague and Brno, would have mostly been educated in Czech by the early 1930s: ibid., 302; Hillel J. Kieval, The Making of Czech Jewry: National Conflict and Jewish Society in Bohemia, 1870-1918 (New York, 1988), 40-6.
(38) Bacon, `Muj zivot v Terezine', in Adler, Theresienstadt, 552ff. Shkid was an acronym for Shkola Imeni Dostoyevskovo [Dostoyevsky School], a secret kept by the boys and based on the title of one of Eisinger's favourite books, an account of the Petrograd original by two of the boys who had belonged to it. See Krizkova, Kotouc and Ornest (eds.), We Are Children Just the Same, 35.
(39) Literally `a brothel on wheels'; figuratively, `a terrible mess'. See also Erik Polak, `Die Bedeutung der Zeitschriften im Leben der Theresienstadter Kinder und Jugend', in Karny, Blodig, and Karna (eds.), Theresienstadt in der `Endlosung der Judenfrage', 164.
(40) JMPTC, 304, Rosa Englander MS, `Unsere Aufgabe -- unser Weg'. As a Communist, she emphasized the non-Jewish universalism of the children's predicament. On the radio and Englander, see also Willy Groag's interview with Ben-David Gershon, Kibbutz Maanith, 17 Oct. 1965: JMPTC, 343, fos. 63, 73ff.
(41) Bacon not only continues to use Madrichim to describe the youth workers in the so-called `family camp' in Auschwitz-Birkenau, but also notes how the children attempted to use Hebrew as a code to evade the censorship which accompanied the writing of postcards. By substituting the word mod (death) for a greeting at the end of the cards, he and his friends attempted to warn those left behind in the Theresienstadt Czech boys' home what awaited them. Dokumentationsarchiv des osterreichischen Widerstandes, Vienna (hereafter DOW), fo. 14, Yehuda Bacon interview with Chaim Mass, Jerusalem, 13 Feb. 1959.
(42) Inge Auerbacher, having witnessed these scenes as a seven- to ten-year-old, described them: `Most of the kitchens were located in the open courtyards of the huge barracks. The lines were always very long. It was especially hard in the winter, waiting in the bitter cold. Breakfast consisted of coffee, a muddy-looking liquid which always had a horrible taste. Lunch was a watery soup': Inge Auerbacher, I am a Star: Child of the Holocaust (New York, 1986), 47.
(43) JMPTC, 129.702, Vera Wurzelova (born 10 Dec. 1930; deported to Theresienstadt 13 July 1943; survived), pencil line drawing.
(44) JMPTC, 129.204, Liliane Franklova (born 12 Jan. 1931; deported from Brno to Theresienstadt 15 Dec. 1941; deported to Auschwitz 19 Oct. 1944), pencil.
(45) The seashore would have had fairy-tale connotations for children growing up in a landlocked country; thus, in Ruth Klaubaufova's drawing of a house and garden, the children play just outside the garden fence on the seashore: JMPTC, 129.013.
(46) Eisen, Children and Play, 77; David Wdowinski, And We Are Not Saved (New York, 1983), 49; Sheva Glas-Wiener, Children of the Ghetto (Melbourne, 1983), 87-9.
(47) Norbert Troller, Theresienstadt: Hitler's Gift to the Jews (Chapel Hill, 1991), 93-5, 119-21, 133; Adler, Theresienstadt, 368-77.
(48) Troller, Theresienstadt, 94. For a recent collection of women's fantasy recipes, see Cara De Silva (ed.), In Memory's Kitchen: A Legacy from the Women of Terezin (Northvale, 1996); also, in general, Elie Cohen, Human Behaviour in the Concentration Camp (London, 1988), 131ff. For a survey and anthology of camp inmates' diaries, see R. Laqueur, Schreiben im KZ: Tagebucher, 1940-1945 (Bremen, 1992), 43-5.
(49) Adler, Theresienstadt, 299-300. The average age of death never fell below sixty-three; after January 1942, and for most of the time, it was over seventy: ibid., 527. Aggregate demographic statistics are as follows: 141,184 people were deported to Theresienstadt; 33,456 died there; 88,202 were deported further (mostly to their deaths in Auschwitz-Birkenau); 1,654 were released prior to liberation; 464 escaped; 276 were arrested (mostly killed in the small fortress); and there were 16,832 survivors on liberation. See Rani Hilberg, The Destruction of the European Jews, 2nd edn, 3 vols. (New York, 1985), ii, 438.
(50) On the discussion within the Council of Elders over whether to care for the young or the old, see JMPTC, Memoires, 343/97, Zeev Scheck MS, `Kinder in Theresienstadt: Jugendfursorge des Aeltestenrates'.
(51) See DOW, Yehuda Bacon interview with Chaim Mass, Jerusalem, 13 Feb. 1959, fo. 16. Anna Kovanicova (later Hyndrakova), who was fourteen when she was deported to Theresienstadt and entered the Czech girls' home, affirms that what made the homes `the best thing Terezin could have provided for us in the ghetto environment' was that `we young people lived together without closer contact with the old, sick and wretched': Anita Frankova et al., The World Without Human Dimensions: Four Women's Memories (Prague, 1991), 157.
(52) See the anonymous girl's account of staying in her grandmother's room, cited in Adler, Theresienstadt, 557-8. Stiassny coined a `Slogan of the Day: The Young Help the Aged': see Krizkova, Kotouc and Ornest (eds.), We Are Children Just the Same, 137.
(53) For Ginz himself, knowing that he would have enough to eat may have been a crucial precondition for his own imaginative engagement with the plight of others: ibid., 55-6, 62. On the emotional lifeline to the outside world, which receiving food-parcels kept open, see Frantisek Benes and Patricia Toanerova, Posta v ghettu Terezin / Die Post im Ghetto Theresienstadt / Mail Service in the Ghetto Terezin, 1941-1945 (Prague, 1996), esp. 193-226; also Eisenkraft, Damals in Theresienstadt, 27; Kathe Starke, Der Fuhrer schenkt den Juden eine Stadt (Berlin, 1975), 86-7.
(54) On provisioning, see Adler, Theresienstadt, 358-63; JMPTC, 129.706, Ilona Weissova (born 6 Mar. 1932; deported from Prague to Theresienstadt 14 Dec. 1941; deported to Auschwitz 15 May 1944), pencil. Zmrzlin[a] is ice-cream; cokolada chocolate; orisky nuts; sardinky sardines; med honey; bonbony sweets; cukr sugar; mleko milk; `vstup do zeme blahobytu. Zaplat vstup 1 Kc' is `Entry to fantasy land. Entry charge 1 Crown'.
(55) Anna Kovanicova (later Hyndrakova) celebrated her sixteenth birthday in the Czech home for girls in March 1944. Her father gave her, she recalled in 1971, a blue dress. The girls in her room baked her a cake, gave her a pendant (with her initials and those of her boyfriend) and they taught her the tango; the boys in house L218 held a dance. See Anna Kovanicova (later Hyndrakova), in Frankova et al., The World without Human Dimensions, 158-9.
(56) For a general survey of this motif, see Dieter Richter, Schlaraffenland: Geschichte einer popularen Phantasie (Frankfurt-on-Main, 1989), esp. 94-104.
(57) Kluger, Weiter Leben, 87. Susan Cernyak-Spatz summed it up simply: `I don't think I ever became so good a cook as I was with my mouth'; cited in Esther Katz and Joan Ringelbaum (eds.), Women Surviving the Holocaust (New York, 1983), 153.
(58) JMPTC, 129.705, Maria Muhlsteinova (born 31 Mar. 1932; deported from Prague to Theresienstadt 17 Dec. 1941; deported to Auschwitz 16 Oct. 1944), pencil.
(59) Pets figure in some of the other paintings, such as Harm Beck's of a small black dog with a red collar, the tip of its tongue sticking out expectantly: JMPTC, 121.795, Hana Beck. A cat and dog feature also in 121.501, anon., and another cat, on the roof of a house this time, in 121.500, anon.
(60) Ghetto policemen feature in a number of other drawings: notably, a full-scale watercolour: JMPTC, 129.186, anon.; with a woman who is wearing the yellow star: JMPTC, 125.426, Jiri Beutler; directing non-existent traffic: JMPTC, 121.991, anon.; on a desert island with palm trees and a fantastical animal with the body and head of a cow and camel's hump: JMPTC, 137.669, Gabi Freiova. See also the caricature in Vedem, complete with Louis-Napoleon moustache and beard and spectacles: Archive, Terezin Memorial, A 1317, Vedem, 12 Mar. 1944, fo. 531.
(61) Vera Duxova (later Hajkova) worked with the toddlers in the orphanage as a nurse and describes their incessant hunger, which made them cry and soil themselves: Frankova et al., The World without Human Dimensions, 85.
(62) Anna Freud and Dorothy Burlingham, Heimatlose Kinder (Frankfurt-on-Main, 1982), 191; `An Experiment in Group Upbringing' (1951), in The Writings of Anna Freud, 8 vols. (New York, 1967-80), iv.
(63) From the point of view of the adult, Norbert Troller observed, `relationships developed that were inevitably ambiguous. On the one hand, there was spontaneous, true, eternal love; on the other, we were faced with the continual threat of separation, sex lust, a pressure cooker atmosphere, quick, quick, without fancy phrases, before the next transport to the East stops us, because no one returns from there. Only to find a space, a kumbal, a cellar, an attic, where two people could he alone, to "sleep together" for an hour. Next day they would disappear into the crowd': Troller, Theresienstadt, 117-18.
(64) JMPTC, 131.337, Vera Lowyova, pencil and crayon on brown paper.
(65) JMPTC, 129.098, Edita Bikkova (born 9 May 1933; deported to Theresienstadt 24 Oct. 1942; deported to Auschwitz 23 Oct. 1944), pencil and crayon. For a comparative perspective, see the work of the twelve-year-old Karin Isolde Lehmann in `Buntes Bild and frisches Leben!' (Christmas 1945): Hartmut Lehmann, Gottingen.
(66) JMPTC, 121.899, Jirina Steinerova (born 10 Jan. 1930; deported to Theresienstadt 12 Nov. 1942; deported to Auschwitz 4 Oct. 1944); Heim 14 [LA14?], pencil.
(67) JMPTC, 129.075, Zuzana Winterova (born 27 Jan. 1933; deported to Theresienstadt 4 Apr. 1942; deported to Auschwitz 4 Oct. 1944), pencil.
(68) JMPTC, Memoires 343/95, Willy Groag interview with Ben-David Gershon, Kibbutz Maanith, 17 Oct. 1965.
(69) I have found four other such drawings: JMPTC, 129.406, Hana Grunfeld; 130.619, Gitta Schulz; 129.404, Ruth Schachter; 173.782, Helga Weissova (Hoskova), a drawing remarkable for the adult mastery of perspective, including the foreshortening of reclining figures. In the others no one is present.
(70) JMPTC, 121.516, Hana Seinerova (born 16 Nov. 1933; deported to Theresienstadt 9 Dec. 1942; deported to Auschwitz 15 Dec. 1943; survived), pencil.
(71) This interpretation would be reinforced if the underlined and repeated 'm' leading from the bunks to the kitchen stood for `Mutti' [Mummy]. The line of `m's could equally -- viewed the other way around -- be a line of washing, an association common to both past and present domesticity. In another, anonymous, domestic interior we again fred no figures in the collage. It is as if the carefully depicted pot plants on a stand, the picture on the wall, the upholstered bench and the pink, green, yellow, purple and blue books on their shelf are enough to convey home as it was. See JMPTC, 129.759.
(72) JMPTC, 129.190, Josef Novak, Heim [4?] 10 (born 25 Oct. 1931; deported from Prague to Theresienstadt 24 Apr. 1942; deported to Auschwitz 18 May 1944).
(73) Karl Weich, `Einfuhrung', in Bedrich Fritta, Fur Tommy zum dritten Geburtstag in Theresienstadt 22.1.1944 (Pfullingen, 1985).
(74) In early 1942, sixteen were hanged in public: see Adler, Theresienstadt, 86-8; Alexandra Sternberg, cited in Schwertfeger, Women of Theresienstadt, 29; Lilly Boin, My Story (Lincoln, Neb., 1989), 65. Yehuda Bacon describes looking after one Fischer, the (volunteer) hangman, later in Birkenau, whom he had liked because he had shared his own food with children from the orphanage in Theresienstadt: DOW, Yehuda Bacon interview with Chaim Mass, Jerusalem, 13 Feb. 1959, fo. 31. Vera Duxova (later Hajkova), on the other hand, was still terrified of him in Auschwitz, where he was in charge of the road-working gang: Frankova et al., The World without Human Dimensions, 97-8.
(75) JMPTC, 304, Rosa Englander MS, `Unsere Aufgabe -- unser Weg'.
(76) Games in the square: two boys and a girl skip, the Zionist youth marches (right), two girls play hopscotch (left), while other children sit on benches in the park and an airplane flies overhead. The pram under the trees may be either an intrusion from the pre-ghetto world (like Maria Muhlsteinova's bus) or taken from the period when Theresienstadt was `beautified'. Prams were apparently often constructed from wooden boxes with, or without, wooden wheels: I. Lauscherova, `The Children of Terezin', in Ehrmann (ed.), Terezin, 91. JMPTC, 129.950, Gabi Freiova (born 1 Jan. 1933; deported to Theresienstadt 9 Dec. 1942; deported to Auschwitz 18 May 1944), pencil. Drawing of the sick: JMPTC, 173.772, Eva Schulzova (born 20 July 1931; deported to Theresienstadt 14 Dec. 1941; deported to Auschwitz 18 Dec. 1943), pencil.
(77) This is true of a number of pictures of girls participating in line and circle dances: JMPTC, 121.723, Hana Wagnerova; 133.159, Eva Schurova; 129.963, Helena Schonserova. Only in one of these, an anonymous applique cut-out of white figures against red tissue paper, are parents present. Interestingly, it is the (larger) father rather than the (smaller) mother who is holding the baby, while eight much smaller children execute a circle dance in the top right: JMPTC, 121.644.
(78) `A following scene in the street: A young boy, still alive or perhaps dead already is lying across the sidewalk. Right there three boys are playing horses and drivers; their reins have gotten entangled. They try every which way to disentangle them, they grow impatient, stumble over the boy lying on the ground. Finally, one of them says: "Let's move on, he gets in the way". They move a few paces away and continue to struggle with the reins': Janusz Korczak, Ghetto Diary (New York, 1978), 353-4, also 121.
(79) See `Rambles in Terezin', in Krizkova, Kotouc and Ornest (eds.), We Are Children Just the Same, 85-6, 91-2, 105; on the hospital, see also Resi Weglein, Als Krankenschwester in KZ Theresienstadt: Erinnerungen einer Ulmer Judin (Stuttgart, 1988); Wiener Library, London, K4H, Theresienstadt 4009, Edith Kramer MS, `As a Doctor in Theresienstadt'.
(80) DOW, Yehuda Bacon interview with Chaim Maas, Jerusalem, 13 Feb. 1959, fos. 28-9; DOW, Yehuda Bacon interview with Ben-David Gershon, Jerusalem, 17 Nov., 28 Dec. 1964, los. 55-7. Anna Kovanicova felt a similar responsibility when she and her parents were deported to the `family camp' of Birkenau: `it was as if I'd taken upon myself the responsibility for what happened to Mama and Papa. That feeling stayed with me': Anna Kovanicova (later Hyndrakova), in Frankova et al., The World without Human Dimensions, 160. Inge Witrovska drew a small child looking at a large female figure lying in bed: JMPTC, 125.716, Inge Witrovska.
(81) JMPTC, 326, Dicker-Brandeis MS, fo. 5.
(82) Terezin Foundation, Terezin Diary.
(83) Marion Milner, On Not Being Able to Paint (London, 1971), 163-5.
(84) Alice Sommer and her seven-year-old son remained together from their deportation to Theresienstadt from Prague in July 1943 until liberation in May 1945. A concert pianist, Sommer had already found solace in her music during the German occupation of Prague, practising the twenty-four Chopin etudes. Her performances were greeted with great acclaim in Theresienstadt and her son was quickly drawn into sharing in this musical life. Unconstrained by physical location, by their own deportations and the loss of the boy's father and grandmother, music seems to have served as an emotional bond between them, abstract enough in form to escape the dirt and overcrowding while expressing their passions and anxieties. Wiener Library, K4H, Theresienstadt, Alice Herz-Sommer MS, `A Memoir'. The composer, Victor Ullmann, wrote two appreciations of her performances: see Victor Ullmann, 26 Kritiken uber musikalische Veranstaltungen in Theresienstadt (Hamburg, 1993), 61 ff., 84 ff. After the war they emigrated to Israel, where she took up teaching the piano and he became an internationally acclaimed cellist.
(85) DOW, Yehuda Bacon interview with Ben-David Gershon, Jerusalem, 17 Nov. 1964, fos. 17, 24, 68.
(86) See Nicholas Stargardt, `German Childhoods: The Making of a Historiography', German Hist., xvi (1998).
(87) Anna Freud, `Child Observation and Prediction of Development: A Memorial Lecture in Honour of Ernst Kris', in Writings of Anna Freud, 1956-1965, v, 133.
(89) Nina Weilova tells of how her doll was ripped open by the SS on arrival at Theresienstadt; her subsequent further deportation to Auschwitz was marked by the loss of the doll in the tumult on the infamous `ramp': DOW, Nina Weilova MS, `Erinnerungen', fos. 13, 25.
(90) JMPTC, 129.355, avers, Vladiir Flusser. See also the anonymous war fantasy (soldiers carry the Czech flag and the fire brigade is also in action): JMPTC, 129.213.
(91) JMPTC, 121.521, Josef Kraus; also 129.005, anon.
(92) For such a view, see Susan G. Ament, `Music and Art of the Holocaust', in Byron L. Sherwin and Susan G. Ament (eds.), Encountering the Holocaust: An Interdisciplinary Survey (Chicago, 1979), 389.
(93) G. Bechtold, Ein deutsches Kindertagebuch in Bildern: 1933-1945 (Freiburg, 1997), 58-61.
(94) See Alessandro Portelli, The Death of Luigi Trastulli and Other Stories: Form and Meaning in Oral History (Albany, 1991); also his `Oral Testimony, the Law and the Making of History: The "April 7" Murder Trial', History Workshop Jl, no. 20 (1985); James Fentress and Chris Wickham, Social Memory (Oxford, 1992); Luisa Passerini (ed.), Memory and Totalitarianism (Oxford, 1992); Paul Thompson and Raphael Samuel (eds.), The Myths We Live By (London, 1995); Lawrence L. Langer, Holocaust Testimonies: The Ruins of Memory (New Haven, 1991). For the Theresienstadt child survivors, see especially Sarah Moskovitz, Love despite Hate: Child Survivors of the Holocaust and their Adult Lives (New York, 1983).
(95) For a fascinating case of how deeply suppressed anger both produces and suffuses a very literal and factual narrative, see Dinora Pines, `Working with Women Survivors of the Holocaust', in her A Woman's Unconscious Use of her Body: A Psychoanalytical Perspective (London, 1993). The interpretations which Anna Freud and Sophie Dann drew from their work with the Theresienstadt orphans were very much in line with Anna Freud's views on `ego development' and so also have to be understood in the context of her dispute with Melanie Klein over this concept. The major statement of Anna Freud's position is in her Ego and the Mechanisms of Defence (London, 1936). For a brief introduction to the Freud-Klein debate, see `Ego Psychology', in R. D. Hinshelwood, A Dictionary of Kleinian Thought (London, 1989). Anna Freud's theory -- that a child deprived of parents early only encounters difficulties later in forming any secure and stable sense of self, during latency and adolescence -- has influenced some subsequent writing in this field: see Edith Ludowyk Gyomroi, `The Analysis of a Young Concentration Camp Victim', The Psychoanalytic Study of the Child, xviii (1963); Flora Hogman, `Displaced Jewish Children during World War II: How They Coped', Jl Humanistic Psychology, xxiii (1983).
(96) Indeed, when a convoy of 1,200 child survivors of the Bialystock ghetto arrived, the SS kept them in quarantine outside the town walls in order to prevent any communication with the Theresienstadt ghetto. When, after six weeks, they were deported further, all of their carets were sent with them in order to preserve the ignorance of the inmates of Theresienstadt. See JMPTC, 343/99, anonymous manuscript. These children's fear of being gassed in the delousing station is recorded in a number of adult memoirs as the first evidence of rumours of what Auschwitz stood for: DOW, Jo Spier MS (1978), `Das ages hat mein Aug gesehen', fo. 4.
(97) Egon Redlich, the head of the Jugendfursorge, learned of the massacre of the Minsk ghetto in the autumn of 1942; his response seems to have been to turn inwards and concentrate on his social work in the ghetto: see Kryl, `Das Tagebuch Egon Redlichs', 152-3. On 8 March 1944, an escapee from the `family camp' in Birkenau, Vitezslav Lederer, reported to the Jewish Council in Theresienstadt on the mass gassings in Birkenau; he was not believed: see Terezin Memorial Exhibition, Terezin.
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