A concentration camp through the eyes of a child

I invite you to see the life in the camp in Terezin, which emerges from these moving, thanks to the artist’s talent and her faithful account of reality, drawings.

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Olga Zienkiewicz

April has just began, but before the events commemorating the 70th anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising are in full swing, I would like to invite you to visit an extraordinary exhibition of drawings by a child from the concentration camp in Terezina. The author is, twelve at the time, Helga Hošková.

In 1941, in Terezin, a city and fortress a dozens of kilometers away from Prague, the Germans set up a camp for Czech, German, Austrian and Dutch Jews. Entire families were deported there, 150 thousand of people in total. Most of them died there or in gas chambers in Auschitz and other camps. To Trezin was also taken, along with her parents, Helga Hošková, a very artistically gifted twelve-year-old girl from Prague.

Executions, diseases, malnutrition and a fear of deportation were all part of everyday life of the prisoners in Terezin. However, they still lived in incomparably better conditions to those in other camps and ghettos in Nazi-occupied Europe.

Executions, diseases, malnutrition and a fear of deportation were all part of everyday life of the prisoners in Terezin. However, they still lived in incomparably better conditions to those in other camps and ghettos in Nazi-occupied Europe. The Germans had established the ghetto in Terezin only for demonstration purposes, among others for the international Committee of the Red Cross. A lot of intellectuals and artists were deported there.

Helga Hošková started drawing and painting at a very early age. It is not surprising that she also registered the war reality/environment of Czech Jews after her father’s advice ‘ Paint what you see’. She abandoned her imagined ‘childlike/childish’ subjects and created an extraordinary chronicle in her school notebooks using pencil, crayons and paints that she had managed to smuggle from home or acquired later. In Terezin, taking photographs or genre painting was forbidden. However, the Germans did not notice what that small, teenage girl was doing. After her deportation, her uncle managed to hide her notebooks.

In Auschwitz and other camps, Helga did not have the possibility to draw anymore, but belonged to the small group of children from Terezin who survived. She became a profound painter and often went back to the subject adding to her chronicle new drawings illustrating for example Auschwitz. In Terezin, she wrote also a journal, which was very mature for her age and which Polish translation has just been issued. It was an honour and pleasure to have Mrs Helga Hoškova-Weissova in JHI on 21st April at a meeting from the series Thursdays on Tłomackie

I invite you to see the life in the camp in Terezin, which emerges from these moving, thanks to the artist’s talent and her faithful account of reality, drawings. 

By courtesy of the artist and Czeskie Centrum in Warsaw, the exhibition can be visited from 2nd to 30th April, Monday to Friday at 11am-5pm in JHI’s exhibition room in Błękityny Wieżowiec (Bankowy Square, entrance from Tłomackie Street). Apart from 54 drawings by the teenage prisoner girl we present her later graphics (woodcuts), made in Israel. The exhibition is accompanied by an hour length documentary about the artist.

Admission free! 

The gallery of the photographs from the meeting with Helga Weissova

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