Ghettos and Camps
Theresienstadt - Tommy
Pages from Tommy :
Tommy was drawn by the Czech artist Bedrich Fritta as a present for his son Thomas on his third birthday – a birthday celebrated in the book the way people would celebrate outside of the ghetto – with a party including cakes, presents, and a clown. Fritta illustrated the book with drawings of the life he remembered outside the ghetto walls. He wanted to teach his son about all the things in a normal world, such as trees, parks, birds, and flowers - for the day in the future when he hoped Tommy would face a better life. The book did not reflect reality – instead, it was a gift of optimism.
Fritta was head of the Theresienstadt ghetto’s technical department, whose workers were Jewish artists imprisoned in the ghetto. Forced to prepare propaganda for the Germans, whenever possible they also secretly documented the grim reality of their daily lives.
Fritta perished in Auschwitz, and his wife Hansi died in Terezin. After the war, Tommy was adopted by his father’s friend and fellow artist Leo Hass and his wife Erna, who also recovered the manuscript.
The book was published by Yad Vashem in 1999, in both adult and children’s versions.