The History Museum
The permanent display is located in "The Rotunda", an octagon structure (details on establishment of Beit Terezin appear in a separate paragraph, wherein among other subjects the erection of the History Museum is being discussed), built of brown bricks.
The display tells the history of the occupation of the Czech republic, turning it to Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia (March 1939), and the history of the Jews in ghetto Terezin (Nov. 1941 - May 1945).
Temporary exhibition - Aims
To perpetuate the memory of the ghetto Jews by art creations, spread in sight of the visitors, viewing the tract of the prisoners' life in the ghetto in all its layers.
To bring public recognition of the artistic qualities of these painters of Holocaust era, the styles they developed, and the coercion they were confronted with regarding the materials and conditions needed for their artistic creativity, at their disposal.
To make it possible for the public to understand the artists motivation to be creative although this was bound with risking their lives and the lives of they're dearest ones.
To be acquainted and to appreciate the spiritual heritage that these painters left behind, the message delivered through their devotion and also that of others in ghetto Terezin, to be linked to life of culture and creativity as a last refuge to guard the human spirit and human respect.
Exhibitions in Israel and abroad
For many years the main museum activities took place in the Historic Museum.
Thereto visitors and youth groups came to visit, teachers and students concentrated in study of the vast and interesting material collected there. All the collections waited for the day to come, they could be exposed to viewers.
And indeed, from time to time the collections were drawn from the drawers and were seen in some museums over the world. In this way the creations out of Beit Terezin collections were seen in Sweden, Norway, Denmark, New-York, Australia, Prague, Italy, France, Austria and Japan.
In 1997, for the first time an exhibition, based on Beit Terezin collection, was prepared at the City of Natanya, in the entry hall to the Culture House, and for the first time there was a well and professionally prepared exhibition. The name of this exhibition: "The Life As If " A year later paintings were asked for by Kibbutz Baram Museum's curator, for an exhibition to be opened towards the Day Of Holocaust, an exhibition which dealt with children paintings in the era of Holocaust.
Some time before opening our exhibition hall, there were some creations from the Groag - Fleischmann collection, in an exhibition to honor Willy Groag and his family, to be seen in the Heritage of Givat Haviva.
Also in Yad VaShem in an exhibition " There do not exist children games" a corner dedicated to ghetto Terezin takes a central place and most of the articles exhibited there were taken from our collection.
Beit Terezin Museum is active in diverse fields. Since about two years, the Museum shows temporary exhibitions. The first exhibition dealt with "Commemoration and Perpetuation" where creations of Israeli artists were shown, the first and second generation - of those living in Emek Hefer and of those connected with the Beit Terezin Association. In this exhibition creation of Michal Efrat, Michal Hefer, Shraga Weill, Hayim Maor, Yuval Danieli, Hagai Dor and Rona Tarsi were shown. The artists lent their creations to the Museum and with closure of the exhibition these were returned to the artists. The exhibition was opened on the Day of the Holocaust and closed on July 30, 1999. Designed by Yonat Keller, Advised by: Yuval Danieli. With the closure of the exhibition, the same day the renovation of Beit Terezin started, to enable a suitable exhibition hall to be erected, according to the requests of the Department of Museums, (of Ministry of Culture) to enable properly to exhibit.
With the end of the renovation and the opening of the new hall, an exhibition was prepared -
"Characters and structures" - paintings of artists from ghetto Terezin, chosen out of the Beit Terezin collection.
Curator: Alisa Shek, Designed by: David Gal.
Today, an exhibition "Working in the Trap" is shown.
Preparation of a temporary exhibition
Creations of six painters, prisoners of ghetto Terezin.
This exhibition is dedicated to the creations of six painters, prisoners of ghetto Terezin, who were accused of anti-nazi propaganda because of their artistic activities, they were arrested in July 1944 and brought to the Small Fortress for interrogation and horrid torture. One of them died during the interrogation and the rest of them, after a period of three months, were deported to extermination camps. Only one of them survived.
The painters and their creations
Bedrich Fritta was born as Fritz Taussig, in Moravia, on 19th September 1909. He was a known artist illustrator and caricaturist, even before the war. For some time he worked as graphic designer, painter and painting teacher.
On November 24, 1941, together with other 342 young men, he was deported from Prague to Terezin.
He was appointed to head the Graphic Department, the main task there was to prepare graphic attachments to the many reports that were sent by various departments of the Aeltestenrat to the offices of the SS. In this department Fritta had at his disposal paper and materials needed for painting, as much as he wanted. He put on the paper the very sad reality of Terezin.
He made these drawings after working hours, mainly at night. The paintings represent perfectly the life in the ghetto, the overcrowding, the cold, the mud, lack of sanitary installations, shortage of food, the different living conditions between the prominent prisoners and the rest of the Jews.
On July 17, 1944, Bedrich Fritta was called to present himself at the nazi HQ.
He was taken for interrogation and was accused of distribution of anti-nazi propaganda. Fritta was sent to the Small Fortress, together with his wife and his son Tomy then aged three, and together with his fellow painters His wife died of hunger.
Tomy stayed in the Small Fortress and other women prisoners took care of him. After the war the painter Leo Haas and his wife adopted Tomy.
Bedrich Fritta was deported in October 1944 to Birkenau, where he was murdered. His drawings and paintings remained.
Bedrich Fritta's creations in Beit Terezin collection:
> Going out to work. — Diluted ink - 42x52
> On its backside: Worker with a hammer. — Gouache
Ferdinand Bloch was born in Vienna, on August 15, 1898. He worked in Vienna as a graphic artist.
In 1938 he went to Prague where he taught painting in lessons organized by the Jewish Community.
He was deported to Terezin on 30.7.1942, there he joined the painters who worked in the Graphic department.
He was arrested on July 17, 1944 together with his friends and has been taken to the Small Fortress for interrogation. There he died of torture, on October, 31, 1944.
Ferdinand Bloch's creations in Beit Terezin collection:
> Theater in the attic.
Pen and indian ink, 25x12
Pen and diluted ink, 28x32
> A view of a street.
Pen and diluted ink. 24x20
> Food distribution.
> Old people in courtyard - 1943.
> A street with a lonely character.
Water colors 30x22
> A dance around a tree.
Water colors, 15x15
> Pictures of the ghetto.
Pen and ink and water colors on a carton box, 52x74x42
Otto Unger was born 27.11.1901, in Brno, Moravia. He studied in Prague, in the Academy of Creative Arts, and after graduation he returned to Brno. There he became integrated, teaching painting, mathematics and geometry in a Jewish High school.
In 1942 he and his family were deported in a transport to Terezin. In the ghetto he worked in the Graphic Department, together with other artists. He also created paintings in underground, like his friends. He succeeded to hide several of his paintings and some of them were smuggled out of the ghetto limits.
The Germans came upon part of his paintings and upon some of other painters. They were arrested. Otto Unger was interrogated and brutally tortured, then sent to Birkenau.
He was liberated at Buchenwald in April 1945, suffering from severe tuberculosis. He was hospitalized in a town near Weimar, there he died in July 1945.
During the interrogations the Germans broke Unger's right arm. His friends remember seeing him to hold a piece of charcoal between his fingers, desperately trying to express his last feelings.
Otto Unger's Creations in Beit Terezin collection:
> The Blind.
> The Laundry.
> The Hunchback.
> An Old Man.
Brush and ink, 24x35
> On the backside: A couple of old people.
Brush and ink.
> A street with barracks.
Pencil and water-colors, 36x25
> A sitting Woman.
> Wood depot.
Diluted ink, 31x24
Leo Haas was born in Opava, Czechoslovakia on 15.4.1901. He was a famous painter even before the war. After the occupation of Poland by the Germans, he was sent together with another 1000 men to Nisko.
Haas painted what his eyes saw and his paintings present the main documentation of this camp. In 1942 he arrived in Terezin and joined his friends-painters in the Graphic Department.
Leo Haas testified: " We were four painters in a working group. Sometimes at night we have painted starving prisoners, transports of old people, the view of the hangings in the ghetto� we have built a hiding place for these paintings. On July 17, 1944 - Ferdinand Bloch, Otto Unger, Bedrich Fritta and me - were arrested and taken from Terezin to the Small Fortress, accused of distribution of anti-nazi propaganda. There we were taken to a dungeon, interrogated and severely tortured. Ferdinand Bloch died shortly after it, Otto Unger was a victim of the Buchenwald camp and Bedrich Fritta was murdered in Birkenau. I was liberated in the camp Ebensee, in May 1945."
After the liberation, Leo Haas returned to Terezin and succeeded to find many of the hidden paintings.
Leo Haas's Creations in Beit Terezin Collection:
> Portrait of Dr. Erich Oesterreicher.
Brush and ink, 30x45
> "One year to Arbeitszentrale", December 1942.
Album including 47 paintings, ink and water-colors, 42x30
> The girl and the other woman.
> Caricature of Eng. Fischer, 1944.
Pen and diluted ink, 22x32
> Transport in winter.
Diluted ink and water-color, 46x30
Pen and diluted ink, 46x30
> "One week of garment cleaning".
Poster, diluted ink 22x30
> eorg Lustig in the bakery.
G Pencil, 44x30
> Caricature of Mirko Tuma, 1944.
Diluted ink 25x34
> Portrait of a woman
The Use of the testimony of Leo Haas, a famous painter that survived.
Excerpts of Leo Haas testimony will accompany the entire exhibition.
This testimony will help the observers to understand the life conditions in the ghetto and their will to create and safeguard the memory through the paintings.
The story of these painters' courage will also be told by means of this testimony.