Friedl Dicker-Brandeis and the art of the children of Terezin

Friedl Dicker-Brandeis was born in Austria in 1898 and killed in Auschwitz in 1944. A student of the Bauhaus school of modern European art that embraced functionality over form and simplicity over style, Friedl, as those who studied her life all seem to call her, was an exceptionally gifted painter, illustrator and designer of architecture, toys and furniture. Indeed, admirers say her art ranks among the finest created in the 20th century.

While living in Vienna from 1925, Friedl also took to political activism with characteristic zeal. She became an avowed anti-fascist openly sympathetic to the communist cause. In 1934, she was arrested by the fascist Austrian government, jailed briefly and then released.

She promptly fled to Prague, where she married Pavel Brandeis in 1936. Having secured an immigration certificate, Friedl could have sought safer haven in Palestine, but a visa for her husband was not approved and she refused to leave him. They were sent to Terezin in December 1942.

Before their arrest, Friedl had begun working with refugee children in Prague, discovering that her own art training-which emphasized the developing of spontaneous artistic expression-was an effective tool in helping them overcome their trauma. She took this experience to Terezin, along with a suitcase filled with art supplies, and continued her art education for children in the camp.

When Friedl ran out of supplies, she either had Jewish friends outside the camp smuggle them in or scavenged for materials inside. Knowing her time was near, she managed to pack some 5,000 children's drawings into two suitcases and hid them in an attic. After Terezin's liberation in 1945, a former prisoner recovered the art and donated them to the Jewish community in Prague, where they sat in storage for ten years before being rediscovered.

Friedl Dicker-Brandeis, the art teacher for the children of Terezin


Terezin children's art
children's art by CullimanĂ¡ Eva Hein 14
a book on the children's art of Terezin
a book on the children's art of Terezin
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a book on the children's art of Terezin
Detail from: Karel Fleischmann, 1943
artwork muzeum_03
collage of children's works in the Ghetto Museum
Terezin Ghetto Museum
Museum of the Lesser Fortress
Terezin Ghetto Museum
Terezin Street by Leo Haas
Moonscape by Petr Ginz
Living Quarters by Petr Ginz
Street by Petr Ginz
Lonely Cries by Gemina Lechlinski
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children's art: by Anne Goodsell
Arriving at Terezin by Helga Weissova
preg: seeing_through--inside
Seeing Through-Inside
Memories of Home by Marianna Lancova who died in Auschwitz at age 12
book about Terezin children's art: The Adventures of Butterfly
Terezin children's art: Angel
Tree in the Shape of a Menorah
children's art of the work camp
Out of the 15,000 boys who came through Terezin, only 150 survived the Holocaust.
The Terezin Museum also had an exhibit of images of the holocaust drawn by present-day Czech childrendeti_01 deti_02
images of the holocaust drawn by present-day Czech children
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