"A diligent bird is Mr. Plaček.
Two or three lines – is that me?
I wish the maker of the drawing
an extra food ration for the whole year."
Norbert Frýd, 1943 Bella Shomer-Zaitchik, Double signature: Portraits of Personalities
from the Terezin Ghetto - Max Plaček (ex. cat.),
Yad Vashem Art Museum, Jerusalem, Spring 1994, p. 67.
Born in Kyjov, Austro-Hungarian Empire, in 1902. Murdered in Sachsenhausen in 1944.
While he was still a boy, Plaček loved to draw and paint, as well as playing the violin. He studied law for a number of semesters, but left his studies to start working as an insurance agent, first in Banská Bystrica and later in Prague, where he married Trude Pollak. Following the German occupation in 1939, he was drafted for clerical work at the Central Office for Jewish Emigration in Bohemia and Moravia. In 1942, after a short period working as a forced laborer on the farm of the widow of Reinhard Heydrich, the head of the Gestapo, he was, in September 1942, deported to the Theresienstadt Ghetto. On December 18, 1943, he was transported to the "family camp" in Auschwitz. In July 1944, he was transported to the Sachsenhausen concentration camp, where he was murdered.
During his internment in Theresienstadt, Plaček drew almost uninterrupted. He drew hundreds of caricatures portraits in profile in a humorous style - figures of literary and cultural background from Czechoslovakia and other central European countries. Plaček added attributes to the portraits, such as books they had written and music they had composed. He made sure to note the date on each portrait, and had the sitter sign it. Some of the individuals portrayed also added a comment or a dedication to the artist. The large body of portraits reflects the human and cultural wealth of the inmate population in Theresienstadt; scientists, artists, musicians, actors, and intellectuals from a variety of fields.
The Yad Vashem collection holds more than 500 portraits by Plaček, drawn during the eight month period between May to December, 1943. The last portrait he drew was finished about a week before he was transported to Auschwitz.