Newsletter 3/2017

Paintress Charlotta Burešová

Charlotta Burešová: Girl in a Hoop Skirt, 1942-1945, Památník Terezín, PT 3423, © MUDr. Radim Bureš.

Charlotta Burešová: Girl in a Hoop Skirt, 1942-1945, Památník Terezín, PT 3423, © MUDr. Radim Bureš.

Charlotta (Lotka) Burešová was born in Prague on November 4, 1904 into the family of tailor Gustav Kompert and his wife Steffi. She studied at the Prague Academy of Fine Arts in a class of F. Krattner and at the College of Applied Arts in a class of J. Schusser. She married lawyer Radim Bureš; their only son Radim was born to them in 1927. After the war, son Radim worked as a pediatrician and married lawyer and later well-known Czech politician Dagmar Burešová (who served as the Czech Justice Minister). Before WW II Charlotta fully settled into her husband’s milieu; according to her later words she perceived her identity as follows: “As a matter of fact, before the war I never came into any closer contact with the Jewish community. My husband was ´Aryan´, and so were our acquaintances.1

After the occupation of Czechoslovakia their marriage was formally dissolved, even though both partners continued to communicate, also during Charlotta´s imprisonment in the Terezín Ghetto, as corroborated by her recollections for the Terezín Memorial recorded in 1972: “One of the gendarmes (his name was Čipera) even mediated contact with my husband. I burnt all those secret letters in Terezín, while my husband has kept the secret messages from me.“1

Charlotta Burešová: Portrait of Hana Kellnerová, 1942-1945, Památník Terezín, PT 5525, © MUDr. Radim Bureš.

Charlotta Burešová: Portrait of Hana Kellnerová, 1942-1945, Památník Terezín, PT 5525, © MUDr. Radim Bureš.

Lotka Burešová was taken to Terezín by transport AAs that left Prague on July 20, 1942. Shortly after her arrival she fell seriously ill with an eye disease. After recovery she was employed, also thanks to her artistic training, in a painters´ workshop where she also obtained accommodation after a time. The workshop was situated on the elevated ground floor of the building standing left of the Terezín church (L 410). Her colleagues in the workshop included Otto Kaufmann–Karas who also devoted himself to music and her younger friend Hana Kellnerová. At first, Charlotta painted pictures on tiles according to postcards and later she could go in for free creation. Burešová and Karas also worked on direct orders from SS officers who also used to come to the workshop. Karas applied himself to landscape painting, Burešová to portraiture and figural painting.

Charlotta Burešová: Sketchbook with drawings – Portrait of Otta Kaufmann-Karas, 1942-1945, Památník Terezín, PT 5549, © MUDr. Radim Bureš.

Charlotta Burešová: Sketchbook with drawings – Portrait of Otta Kaufmann-Karas, 1942-1945, Památník Terezín, PT 5549, © MUDr. Radim Bureš.

The studios were then moved to Jägergasse 9 where Charlotta lived next to an art restorers´ workshop; two of her Dutch colleagues, Cohen and Morpurgo, were employed there. Works of art confiscated by the Nazis were repaired in the workshop. As for the other artists who lived and worked there, special mention should be made of Jiří Valdštýn–Karlínský. Burešová painted here ten portraits of the Jewish Elders. She made portraits of Benjamin Murmelstein, Leo Baeck and Jakob Edelstein, the latter only according to a photograph.
She was summoned to the SS Command in Terezín in July 1944 in connection with a cause involving a group of artists around Leo Haas and Bedřich Fritta. She was not arrested since her involvement in making the drawings seized by the Nazis had not been proved. From that moment until the end of the war her direct superior was the Dutch caricaturist Jo Spier.

Charlotta took part in designing costumes and a curtain for some theater performances prepared at the end of the existence of the Terezín Ghetto. Specifically for the children’s play with songs called Broučci (The Beetles) and for the staging of Rusalka (The Water Nymph) and Lašské tance (The Lachian Dances); however, the two latter performances were not staged.

Charlotta Burešová: Football, 1942-1945, Památník Terezín, PT 5531, © MUDr. Radim Bureš.

Charlotta Burešová: Football, 1942-1945, Památník Terezín, PT 5531, © MUDr. Radim Bureš.

She left the camp on May 3, 1945 when her husband came to Terezín in a car and took her back to Prague.

In the postwar period the paintress devoted herself to traditionally styled still lifes and paintings bearing children’s motifs. During the 1950s and 60s she often illustrated school textbooks and books on psychological and educational themes. She died in 1983.

There are more than 50 of her works in the Terezín Memorial’s art collections (portraits, sketches, genre scenes, costume designs) from the time of her incarceration, plus three paintings made shortly after the war. These reflect the artist’s experience of the time of the dictatorship in the country.

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1 Památník Terezín, Sbírka vzpomínek, č. 638 (Charlotta Burešová).

Is the Past Still Alive?

Sára Vykrutová, Dream of a Small Terezín Inmate, age: 8 years.

Sára Vykrutová, Dream of a Small Terezín Inmate, age: 8 years.


The winners of the Terezín Memorial’s 23rd literary competition and the 21st art contest, named The Hana Greenfield Memorial in honor of the initiator, co-founder and sponsor of the competitions, this time held under the common title Is the Past Still Alive?, were announced at an award-giving ceremony in the cinema of the Ghetto Museum in Terezín on June 7, 2017.

In addition to the winners and runners-up in the individual competitions, the ceremony was also attended by Mr. Oldřich Bubeníček, the Regional Commissioner of the Ústí Region, Mrs. Hana Rožcová, the Mayoress of Terezín, officials from the Ministry of Culture of the Czech Republic and from the Lidice Memorial. Speaking to the winners on behalf of the Terezín Initiative, an association of the former Terezín Ghetto inmates, was its Chair Dr. Dagmar Lieblová. Together with Jiří Polák, son of the former Terezín Ghetto inmate and Terezín Memorial historian Erik Polák, Dr. Lieblová presented the Erik Polák Award, financed by the Terezín Initiative. The ceremony was also attended by Hana Greenfield’s husband Murray.

Barbora Kopecká, The Past Hidden in the Walls, age: 16 years.

Barbora Kopecká, The Past Hidden in the Walls, age: 16 years.


The art section of the program featured the Brno Children’s Choir, conducted by its choir leader Valerie Maťašová, with piano accompaniment by Galina Aleškevič. The Choir prepared a selection from a literary program called A Flowered Horse. This had been written, during the Nazi occupation, for children from Prague’s Jewish orphanages by two former Terezín inmates, namely writer Norbert Frýd and music composer Karel Reiner.

The winning works of art went on display at an independent exhibition in the lobby of the Ghetto Museum cinema during July 2017

As many as 429 entries from 95 schools all over the Czech Republic were sent to the competitions in the school year 2016/2017. A total of 126 entries were sent to the literary competition and 303 entries to the art contest. List of the winners and the winning works is to be found on the Terezín Memorial’s web pages in the section Vzdělávání (Education).

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70th Anniversary of the Terezín Memorial

Early May 2017 was a major milestone for the Terezín Memorial. The institution was just then celebrating the 70 years that had elapsed since its foundation.

What Were Its Early Days?

Jan Munk during his speech on the 70th anniversary of the Terezín Memorial, May 2017, photo: Radim Nytl, Památník Terezín.

Jan Munk during his speech on the 70th anniversary of the Terezín Memorial, May 2017, photo: Radim Nytl, Památník Terezín.

The Memorial to National Suffering (later renamed the Terezín Memorial) was established two years after the war, in May 1947, at the initiative of the Czechoslovak Government. It was founded in the Terezín Fortress where dozens of thousands people from different corners of Europe languished during World War II. The seat of the Memorial is in Terezín´s Small Fortress.

Although the Small Fortress was also the site of a detention camp for the German inhabitants until the beginning of 1948, preparations for the reconstruction and later inauguration of the new institution got under way already in the fall of 1947. Repairs of the former barracks in the Small Fortress and other adaptations were launched early in 1948. The plans included the installation of permanent exhibitions on the history of the Small Fortress, on the Jewish Ghetto in Terezín and on the Nazi wartime reprisals in general, to be housed in the cells in the Fourth Courtyard.

However, the February events in 1948 and the communist takeover in the country marked a fundamental reversal in the overall preparations and primarily in the contents of the planned exhibitions. When the Museum of Oppression was ceremonially opened on June 11, 1949 its contents fully reflected the ideological requirements of the new totalitarian regime.

Nově jmenovaný ředitel Památníku Terezín Jan Roubínek, květen 2017, foto: Radim Nytl, Památník Terezín.

Nově jmenovaný ředitel Památníku Terezín Jan Roubínek, květen 2017, foto: Radim Nytl, Památník Terezín.


Distinguished guests and the current as well as former employees of the Terezín Memorial gathered in the Ghetto Museum cinema on May 5, 2017, i.e. 70 years after the events of May 1947, to commemorate the major anniversary of this institution. In his speech, PhDr. Jan Munk, CSc., Director of the Terezín Memorial, reviewed the activities of the Memorial’s individual departments, highlighting their efforts and achievements, especially since 1989. He also thanked the officials representing the Czech and foreign organizations and institutions that have been cooperating with the Terezín Memorial on a long-term basis.

The rally was also addressed by Mgr. Daniel Herman, the Czech Minister of Culture, who singled out the importance of this memorial site for the present and future generations and also mentioned his own personal relation with the institution.

Participants in the ceremonial gathering in the Ghetto Museum were also informed of a change in the post of the Terezín Memorial’s Director. The incumbent long-time Director, Dr. Jan Munk was relieved of his post at his own request by the Minister of Culture as of the middle of 2017. Mgr. Daniel Herman then announced the name of the new Director of the Terezín Memorial: Mgr. Jan Roubínek, B. A, who takes over the post on July 1, 2017.

The ceremony came complete with a performance given by the Klár Quartet.

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Commemorative Stamps Featuring the Terezín Memorial

A postage stamp booklet designed by Jan Ungrád was also issued to mark the 70th anniversary of the foundation of the Terezín Memorial. Each of the eight stamps in the booklet features both works of art by leading Czech artists, artifacts kept in the collections of the Terezín Memorial, as well as pictures made by children who took part in the past art competitions annually held by the Terezín Memorial. These are namely works of the following authors: Fascism (Jan Bauch), Eight Soldiers (Jiří Anderle), What the Children in Terezín Dreamt of (Ondřej Kohout), Sussurans Quiete (The Whisper of Silence) (Nikola Sedlářová), Fight (Zdeněk Hošek), War (Emil Filla), Grief (Nikola Kutílková) and Have You Ever Seen It? (Marie Hervertová). Photograph of Jiří Sozanský´s sculpture entitled A Quiet Lament has been selected for the cover of the postage stamp booklet.

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Postage stamp booklet designed by Jan Ungrád

Postage stamp booklet designed by Jan Ungrád


Postage stamp booklet designed by Jan Ungrád

Postage stamp booklet designed by Jan Ungrád

Traveling Exhibition Being at School in the War Years

Preview of the touring exhibition Being at School in the War Years at the Charles University’s Faculty of Education, May 2017, photo: Radim Nytl, Památník Terezín.

Preview of the touring exhibition Being at School in the War Years at the Charles University’s Faculty of Education, May 2017, photo: Radim Nytl, Památník Terezín.

Back in 2015, the Terezín Memorial, the J.A. Komenský National Pedagogical Museum and Library, the Terezín Initiative Institute and the National Institute for Further Education launched their joint educational project called Being at School in the War Years. Almost twenty teams and individuals from Czech elementary schools entered the project’s first wave. Their task was to carry out research into the topics associated with the school environment in the Czech lands in the years 1938 to 1945. The outcome of their research is presented at a traveling exhibition, premiered in the premises of the Charles University’s Faculty of Education (PedF UK) from March 15 to May 8, 2017. The preview of the exhibition, including a guided tour of the display, screening of the feature film Vyšší princip (Higher Principle) on Czech secondary students during the Nazi reprisals after the assassination of the Acting Protector in the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia Reinhard Heydrich, and also the follow-up debate with Holocaust survivors, was attended by a number of distinguished guests and pupils and students involved in the project.

Lectures on education and upbringing of youth in the conditions of the Nazi totalitarian regime, plus workshops on the topic of minority schooling were also held during the two months of the exhibition, while one of the school teams involved in the project came in for discussions with the students and lecturers of the Faculty of Education of the Charles University. Starting on May 8, 2017 the exhibition began its tour of the schools taking part in the project; it will go on until the end of the next school year. Then the display will be made available to other interested institutions, and finally it will be dismantled and the individual exhibition panels will be leased to the participating schools. The installation of the display was financed from the grant awarded by the International Coalition of Sites of Conscience; the preview of the exhibition at the Faculty of Education of the Charles University was supported by the Endowment Fund for the Holocaust Victims.

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