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Bedřich Fritta/Friedrich Taussig


Bedřich Fritta was born in Weigsdorf (Višňová), Northern Bohemia in 1906.

Bedřich Fritta received his artistic training in Paris around 1930, then moved to Prague. There he worked as a technical draughtsman, graphic designer, and cartoonist, for clients including the exile edition of the Munich satirical weekly Simplicissimus.

On December 4, 1941, Fritta was deported to the Theresienstadt ghetto in the second “construction commando,” made up of engineers, craftsmen, and physicians. He supervised the drawing studio in the Jewish self-administration’s technical department. Up to twenty imprisoned artists worked in the studio, producing construction plans and illustrated supplements for the reports that had to be sent to the SS commandant’s office. These officially commissioned works underpinned the ghetto’s public image as a smoothly functioning, self-governed model settlement—but the artists secretly used the studio materials to record the misery of everyday ghetto life.

The SS discovered the unofficial drawings in summer 1944. They convicted Bedřich Fritta and his colleagues Leo Haas, Otto Ungar, and Ferdinand Bloch of “atrocity propaganda.” On July 17, the artists were sent to the Small Fortress with their families and were incarcerated in the Gestapo jail, where Fritta’s wife Johanna soon died. Bedřich Fritta and Leo Haas were deported to Auschwitz. Fritta died of exhaustion there in November 1944. Leo Haas survived, and adopted Fritta’s son Tomáš.

Theresienstadt (concentration camp)

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