Activities on The Model Camp: Terezín


From Bauhaus to Terezín

As a young Viennese artist, Friedl Dicker-Brandeis left her home to study at the famous Weimar Bauhaus school of art and architecture. She excelled as a textile designer, printmaker, bookbinder and in the field of typography. As Hitler gained power Friedl moved from Germany to Czechoslovakia. Like many Czech Jews she was deported to Terezín along with her husband Pavel. At the camp Friedl became the children’s art teacher and helped create scenery and props for theatrical productions. She always was responsible for organizing secret education classes for children. Friedl was not only an art teacher, but a surrogate mother, psychologist and art therapist to Terezín’s children. Before she was taken away to Auschwitz Friedl managed to save over 4,500 drawings by hiding them in a secret place. They were retrieved later. She died in Birkenau in 1944. Research the life of Fiedl. Find out about her work as an artist, teacher and humanitarian. Check out Part III in this book for other activities that relate to art and Terezín.


Leo Hass
Leo Haas
Malvina Schalkova 

Malvina Schalkova

Preserving Memory and Sanity

Why is it that artists paint and musicians compose? Is it to record the moment? Many of the residents at Terezín were professional artists of one kind or another. Though the Nazis directed them as to what they were to write, draw or perform, there are so many examples of works that were completed in the dark hours and hidden away from view. While many of these pieces have been destroyed, some even at the hands of those who created them, many remain. Use the internet to find works of art by the following artists who were interned at Terezín: Enrico Accatino, Irene Awret, Yehuda Bacon, Felix Bloch, David Brainin, Charlotte Buresova, Corrado Cagli, Aldo Carpi, Emmy Ettlinger, Aizik Feder, Michael Fink, Karel Fleishman, Bedrich Fritta, Jacques Gotko, Leo Haas, Osias Hofstatter, Otto Karas-Kaufman, Georges Kars, Isis Kischka, Malvina Schalkova, Amalia Seckbach, and Otto Ungar. You can also consult Part III in this book for other resources to help with this exercise. Divide the artists among a team and collect biographies on as many artists as you can. Collect pictures by each artist. Then consider the following questions:

  • Why do artists create during times of tragedy?
  • How is art a way of overcoming the trials and tribulations that people face? How does it give hope to the creator?
  • How is a piece of art a testimony as strong as any verbal testimony?

The Eye of an Artist: Helga Weissova-Hoskova

Helga Hoskova survived the Holocaust. Born in Prague in 1929 she was sent to Terezín along with her parents at the end of 1941. At twelve, she was an artist, and throughout her stay at Terezín she recorded the daily life that she and others endured. Her artwork did not create a chronicle of the times but afforded future generations another perspective of the lives of those who survived the experience of concentration camps. View the drawings below juxtaposed next to photographs from Terezín. Write a commentary on the difference between viewing a drawing/painting as opposed to seeing a photograph. Learn more about Helga Weissova-Hoskova’s life and her work as an artist after the war.


New Arrivals to Terezín


Rationing Out Food




In Czech, the word “Brundibár,” means bumblebee. Many music lovers know the word as an opera written for children by Czech composer Hans Krása, along with a libretto by Adolf Hoffmeister, and performed by children at Terezín. Though the libretto was written before the invasion of Czechoslovakia, in anticipation of the inevitable, Hoffmeister included some definite anti-Nazi lines. In 2003, Tony Kushner adapted the opera into a book. Maurice Sendak illustrated the work by emphasizing the symbolism in the opera by having the main character, Brundibár, sport a Hitler moustache. The book won the New York Times Book Review’s Ten Best Illustrated Books of 2003. Since then Kushner and Sendak have collaborated to create a full libretto of the opera by Kushner, while Sendak along with Kris Stone have designed sets for the production. Listen to Brundibár, read the book and report on its symbolism. Consider how it may have been received by the audiences in Terezín. Remark on its ability to respond to contemporary situations.

Spiritual Survival

The Terezín historian, Joza Karas wrote that while there was not food for the body, there was music and art for the soul. Just as Terezín had outstanding artists, it had its share of accomplished musicians and composers. Between 1941 and 1944, over seventy new works of music were composed at Terezín. Much of this music is still being played today. Consult the Part III of this book to locate individual recordings.  Research the work of the following: Pavel Haas, Gideon Klein, Hans Krasa and Viktor Ulmann. Spend time listening to the music. Use it as a background to writing a poem, creating a painting or just allowing time to listen and imagine. Record your thoughts.


Mina Pachter’s Mocha-Hazelnut Cake

It seems rather unlikely that a book on World War II would contain a recipe in it. However, Mina Pachter’s recipe for Mocha-Hazelnut Cake is offered here. Mina Pachter was 70 years old when she was sent to Terezín in 1942. In a gallant form of resistance Mina along with several of her fellow residents: Ilse Blumenthal-Weiss, Else Dormitzer, Trude Groad, Gertrude Kantowitz, Gerty Spiess, and Ilse Weber, organized a way to hold on to the life they left behind. In dialogues, the women recalled their most beloved recipes. Mina wrote them down on whatever paper that could be found, and stitched them into a book. Though Minda died on Yom Kippur, 1944 at Terezín, she gave the book to a friend pleading with him to get it to her daughter, Anny who had fled to Palestine. Anny, and her son David, Mina’s grandson, along with Cara da Silva and Bianca Steiner Brown, a Terezín survivor worked to bring the book, In Memory’s Kitchen, to a publisher. Check Part III to get more information on the book. However, whatever you do, try making Mina’s mocha-hazelnut cake.

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 egg yolks
2 egg whites, stiffly beaten
3 1/2 oz semisweet chocolate, melted and cooled
3 tablespoons strong coffee
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon peel
1 1/4 cups ground hazelnuts
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Lightly grease and flour an 8-inch spring-form pan.
  2. In the large bowl of an electric mixer, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs and yolks, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
  3. Beat in chocolate, and coffee 1 tablespoon at a time, alternating with half ground hazelnuts, flour and the lemon peel. Fold in beaten egg whites, mixing alternately with remaining ground hazelnuts and flour.
  4. Pour batter into prepared cake pan, smoothing the top. Rap pan twice on hard surface to expel any air bubbles.
  5. Bake 30-35 minutes until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
  6. Let cake cool in pan on wire rack 10 minutes. Invert on rack and let cool completely.
  7. Bianca Brown's suggestions for presentation: Spread with strained apricot preserves. Glaze with chocolate icing or sprinkle cake with confectioner's sugar and serve with lightly sweetened whipped cream.

The Butterfly Project

Over 1,500,000 children were victims of the Holocaust. In an effort to remember these children the Holocaust Museum Houston is collecting 1.5 million handmade butterflies. The butterflies will eventually comprise a breath-taking exhibition for all to remember. Go to the museum’s website: Contribute your work to the exhibit.


Petr Ginz’s Picture and Space

As you have learned, Petr Ginz was an outstanding author and artist. Ironically, Petr became well known because of one of his drawings, “Moon Landscape,” that was carried into space by Israeli astronaut, Colonel Illan Ramon. Ramon’s mother was an Auschwitz survivor, but the majority of his family where executed in the death camp. When Ramon learned that he was chosen to be a part of the 2003 U.S. space shuttle, the Columbia, he contacted the Yad Vashem Museum asking if they could select an item that he could carry into space. The museum gave Ramon a copy of the drawing by Petr Ginz. Just as Petr Ginz perished in Auschwitz following his stay in Terezín, Ramon died in the Columbia. Find out more about the life of Petr Ginz and Illan Ramon. What are the similarities? Analyze Ginz’s drawing and comment on why it was a perfect choice for Ramon to take with him on the Columbia shuttle.