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Friedl Dicker-Brandeis (30.7.1898 Vienna - October 1944 Auschwitz)

Friedl Dicker-Brandeis: Lady in a car (selfportait) around 1940From the beginning of her internment in Terezín Friedl Dicker-Brandeis devoted herself to art lessons that were organized as part of a programme of children's education in the ghetto. Through an original method that was based on her experience as a student at the Weimar Bauhaus, Friedl encouraged children to work with colour and light, tried to develop their feeling for form and composition, and applied a method of rhythmic drawing exercises grounded in an interpretation of auditory perceptions as simple graphic forms. The children of Terezín signed their drawings and wrote on them their room number, the group to which they belonged, and the lesson number. Friedl then worked on the drawings, classifying and interpreting them from a theoretical perspective.

For the lessons to be held at all, it was necessary not only to devise an effective teaching strategy, but also to get hold of enough materials. Friedl tirelessly looked around for paper and paint, however hard this must have been in the ghetto. Any old scrap of paper was used for drawing on; even printed forms were put to artistic use. A sheer lack of materials forced the budding young artists to make the best of what little they had. This often led to a perfectly economical approach to drawing and collage-work , which resulted in a remarkably powerful form of expression to which the children's attention was particularly directed.

Friedl was deported from Terezín to Auschwitz on one of the "liquidation" transports that were dispatched in quick succession in the autumn of 1944. She was sent on her own without her husband and, like most of the children who left at the same time, never returned from Auschwitz. After her departure there was probably very little drawing at Terezín. Only two suitcases remained with more than four thousand children's drawings, which Friedl had left behind at Terezín.

 

 

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