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Scale model of Block 5 men's barracks at Theresienstadt made by a former Jewish Czech inmate

Object | Accession Number: 1989.119.1

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    Scale model of Block 5 men's barracks at Theresienstadt made by a former Jewish Czech inmate

    Overview

    Brief Narrative
    Scale model, 1:10 ratio, of Block 5, men's barracks, at Theresienstadt ghetto-labor camp made by Jiri Lauscher after the war. It was based upon his experiences as an inmate of the camp in German occupied Czechoslovakia from December 1942 - May 1945. Even while in the camp, Jiri was concerned with preserving memories of the prisoner's experiences. He remained dedicated to this memorial work for the rest of his life. Jiri was from Prague which was invaded in March 1939 by Germany. He was fired from his job because he was Jewish. In September 1941, Heydrich, the SS chief, became Reich Protector and soon there were almost daily deportations of Jews to concentration camps. In December 1942, Jiri, wife Irma, and daughter Michaela, 5, were sent to Theresienstadt. Jiri's woodworking skill got him assigned to the camp technical department, where he was part of a closeknit group of artists. Irma taught Jewish traditions in the secret children's classes. The camp was taken over by the Red Cross on May 2, 1945, and the Soviets arrived May 9. Jiri and his family returned to Prague in June. Most of their relatives were killed in German concentration camps.
    Date
    creation:  approximately 1970
    Geography
    depiction: Theresienstadt ghetto-labor camp, Block 5, men's barracks; Terezin (Ustecky kraj, Czech Republic)
    creation: Prague (Czech Republic)
    Credit Line
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Jiri Lauscher
    Markings
    f. interior, lower frame, pencil : 17 18
    Contributor
    Subject: Jiří Lauscher
    Artisan: Jiří Lauscher
    Biography
    Jiri Lauscher was born on September 14, 1901, to Jewish parents Siegfried and Anna Schwarz Lauscher near Prague, Austro-Hungary (Czech Republic). His father Siegfried was born in the mid-1800s. His mother Anna was born on August 22, 1876, in Pribram, to Jakob and Leonora Schwarz. Jiri had two siblings: Frantisek, born October 12, 1899, and Josefina, born in 1906. The empire collapsed at the end of World War I (1914-1818) and Prague was part of the newly independent Czechoslovak Republic. Jiri’s father Siegfried died and his mother married Julius Katz, (1874-1942). Jiri was a Zionist and at some point, went to Palestine and lived there for a while before returning to Prague. Jiri, an artisan and designer, was the technical director of a fur factory. He married Irma Kohn, born May 2, 1904, to Ruzena Kohn. Irma was a dedicated teacher and graduate of Charles University where she studied German. She taught children at the Jewish School in Prague. Jiri and Irma’s daughter, Michaela, was born on December 30, 1936.

    On September 29, 1938, Nazi Germany annexed the Sudetenland border region of Czechoslovakia. On March 15, 1939, Germany annexed the Czech provinces of Bohemia and Moravia, where Prague was located, ruled by a Reich Protector. Other regions were absorbed by German allies and Czechoslovakia ceased to exist. Jews were banned from most professions and organizations. Jiri was fired from his factory directorship. He was a talented woodworker and got a job in a carpenter’s workshop, which made toys and other crafts. Jewish children were expelled from public schools and Irma worked two shifts at the now very overcrowded Jewish School. Jewish life was restricted. There were curfews, few shops would serve Jews, and Jews could shop only a few hours a day. Jiri and his family were kicked out of their apartment so a German officer could live there. They had to move to an old house shared with three other families; each family allotted only a single room. Radios and all valuable possessions were confiscated.

    On September 1, 1939, Germany invaded neighboring Poland. In September 1941, Czech Jews were required to wear a yellow Star of David badge to make them easy to identify. At the end of the month, Reinhard Heydrich, SS Chief of Security for the Reich, became Reich Protector. Regular deportations of Jews from Prague began, with daily transport notices in the newspapers. On July 16, 1942, Jiri’s mother and stepfather, Anna and Julius, were deported. The Jewish School where Irma worked was closed. On September 8, Jiri’s brother Frantizek was sent away. On December 22, Jiri, Irma, and Michaela were sent on transport CK to Theresienstadt ghetto-labor camp, 40 miles north of Prague. When they arrived Jiri was asked his profession. He showed them a wooden toy which Michaela had brought that he had made at work and they were sent onto the camp. The family was separated, as men, women, and children were housed in different barracks. Jiri was assigned as a draftsman in the camp technical department. He became part of a closeknit group of other artists, including Dr. Karel Fleishmann, Peter Kien, Bedrich Fritta, Karel Bruml, and Leo Haas. Michaela contracted typhus, scarlet fever, and measles, and was placed in the infectious disease ward at the hospital. One of Jiri and Irma’s cousins, Hana Mueller Schiff (later Bruml), was a nurse and cared for her and brought Jiri and Irma notes and drawings from Michaela, as they were not permitted to visit. After Michaela recovered, she was able to live with her mother. Irma was involved in the clandestine classes offered for children and taught them about Jewish traditions. In January 1943, Irma bribed a camp guard to smuggle her a tree sapling. She needed the young tree to celebrate Tu B'Shevat, the New Year for Trees, with the children. She planned a secret ceremony with dancing and singing with the children and together they planted the tree, using their precious water rations to nurture it. Other children continued to care for the tree they called Etz-Hayim, the Tree of Life, and as it grew it was a symbol that life goes on. It was difficult to get paper and pencils, and Irma would sometimes trade her scarce bread for supplies. Over 90% of the children in Theresienstadt did not survive the Holocaust. In fall 1944, there were frequent, large transports taking inmates to camps in the east. Around October 1944, Jiri was scheduled for deportation. Irma wanted to volunteer that she and Michaela go with them, but Jiri insisted she not do so, and she complied. While Jiri and the other deportees were waiting for the train to arrive, an SS commander came to get workers to repair a roof recently damaged in a windstorm. Jiri and a few others volunteered to do the work and the train departed while they were still working. There were few transports after that and Jiri remained in Terezin.

    By early 1945, all of Jiri’s close friends were deported to other camps, primarily Auschwitz, and as the last member of the group, he became the guardian of their personal possessions. The International Red Cross took over the camp on May 2, 1945. The guards fled, and on May 9, the Soviet Army entered the camp and took control. The war had ended on May 7 with Germany’s surrender. The Jewish Council archive was burned, but Jiri preserved as much material as he could and photographed the camp, in order to document what had occurred there. In June, after three weeks under quarantine, the family returned to Prague. They learned that most family members had not survived. Jiri’s mother Anna and stepfather Julius were murdered in Treblinka killing center on October 19, 1942. His sister Josefina and her husband Arnost Saar were sent to Theresienstadt on January 23, 1943, and then to Auschwitz 8 days later and murdered in the gas chambers upon arrival. His brother Frantisek was deported to Auschwitz on February 2, 1943, and killed upon arrival. Jiri and Irma’s cousin Hana Schiff wrote to let them know that she was still alive and had returned to Prague, which was a great surprise, as Irma had been told by an acquaintance that they saw Hana killed in a concentration camp.

    As antisemitism emerged in postwar Soviet controlled Prague, Jiri and his family tried to emigrate to Israel in 1951. They were refused permission and the family attempted to leave illegally. They were caught at the border and jailed, Jiri for two years. Michaela was expelled from high school. She later passed exams for university, earned a doctorate, and had a career as biochemist. She married, and changed her name to Vidlakova, and had a son. Jiri was a sought after expert on Theresienstadt, due to his personal experience and his extensive archive, and led tours of the site into his 80s. The tree sapling that Irma and the children planted was relocated and became a site of memorial and remembrance. Irma and Michaela also shared the stories of their experiences. Irma, 81, passed away in 1985. Jiri, 88, died in November 1989 in Prague.

    Physical Details

    Classification
    Decorative Arts
    Category
    Woodwork
    Genre/Form
    Building models
    Physical Description
    This is a handmade, miniature wooden scale model, ratio 1:10, of the furnishings of a men's barracks at Theresienstadt ghetto-labor camp. The component assignments are for cataloging purposes only.
    a. 3 tier, double width, rectangular, brown wooden bunk bed frame glued and nailed to full height corner posts. There is a 3 slat shelf at 1 short end of each bunk. The bottom bunk has a full width bench at the side. There is 1 unattached shelf slat.
    b. 3 tier, double width, rectangular, brown wooden bunk bed frame glued and nailed to full height corner posts. There is a 3 slat shelf at 1 short end of each bunk. The bottom bunk has a full width bench at the side. There are 2 unattached shelf slats.
    c. 3 tier, double width, rectangular brown wooden bunk bed frame glued and nailed to full height corner posts. There is a 3 slat shelf at 1 short end of each bunk. The bottom bunk has a full width bench at the side. There is 1 unattached bench slat.
    d1-15. 15 flat, rectangular bed platforms to insert within the frames (a, b, c). Each has 4 or 5 parallel, brown wooden slats held together by 2 glued or nailed short, horizontal slats. There are 9 platforms with 4 slats and 6 with 5 slats.
    e1-5. 5 brown, wooden ladders for bunk bed frames (a, b, c). Each has 6 evenly spaced, horizontal rungs attached to the front of 2 parallel rails with glue or nails.
    f. Rectangular, brown wooden table with a 2 plank tabletop on a rectangular frame nailed and glued to 4 legs. There is a 2nd frame around the lower legs.
    g. Square, brown wooden table with a 2 plank tabletop on a square frame nailed and glued to 4 legs. There is a 2nd frame around the lower legs.
    h. Rectangular, brown wooden bench with a plank top nailed and glued to vertical side panels with triangular notches at the bottom center near 2 horizontal crosspieces.
    i. Rectangular, brown wooden bench with a plank top nailed and glued to vertical side planks with triangular notches at the bottom center, near 2 horizontal crosspieces.
    j. Brown wooden tool box with a rectangular base with low sides nailed and glued between triangular end panels. A full width rod is set across the side panels as a handle.
    k. Rectangular, brown wooden, 2 tiered, plank shelf with 2 vertical side panels. The shelves are nailed and glued to short perpendicular support pieces.
    l. Rectangular, brown wooden wardrobe with an open front and back. The plank top is glued between slatted sides nailed to horizontal crosspieces. A plank shelf is nailed to the lower crosspieces. At the top back is a horizontal slat with 3 nails for hooks along the front, braced by 2 diagonal back slats.
    m1-17. 17 rectangular wooden blocks covered with different colors of cloth, with leathers strips nailed to one long end. They represent trunks and suitcases with handles and have names and transport numbers inscribed on the top.
    n1-4. Models of knapsacks with a drawstring opening and a front flap fastened with thread. Transport numbers are inscribed on the flap exterior. They are stuffed with cotton batting.
    o. Small, brown cloth tube stuffed with batting, with the edges folded in and tied closed with leather lacing.
    p1-6. 6 rectangular, light brown, coarse cloth mattresses with the ends sewn closed, except for a center slit in the long ends for inserting batting. Two mattress are stuffed with cotton batting.
    q1-11. 11 rectangular cloth blankets of different sizes, thicknesses, and colors: 3 dark brown, 1 light brown, 1 dark blue, 1 dark gray, 3 gray, 1 white and blue checks inside circles, and one dark orange and black plaid. One gray blanket is rolled and tied with a strip of red, white, and blue striped cloth.
    r1-5. 5 rectangular cloth towels of different sizes, thicknesses, and colors: 1 black, 1 dark blue, 1 white and blue checked, and 2 white with faded red and blue stripes.
    s1-7. 7 pieces of clothing: 2 black, long sleeve shirts, 3 gray pairs of pants, 1 partially cut out pair of black pants, 1 uncut rectangle of gray cloth.
    Dimensions
    a: Height: 9.875 inches (25.083 cm) | Width: 9.500 inches (24.13 cm) | Depth: 7.375 inches (18.733 cm)
    b: Height: 9.875 inches (25.083 cm) | Width: 9.625 inches (24.448 cm) | Depth: 7.500 inches (19.05 cm)
    c: Height: 9.875 inches (25.083 cm) | Width: 9.500 inches (24.13 cm) | Depth: 4.500 inches (11.43 cm)
    d1-d15: Height: 7.375 inches (18.733 cm) | Width: 2.125 inches (5.398 cm) | Depth: 0.250 inches (0.635 cm)
    e1-e5: Height: 9.500 inches (24.13 cm) | Width: 1.500 inches (3.81 cm) | Depth: 0.375 inches (0.953 cm)
    f: Height: 3.125 inches (7.938 cm) | Width: 3.000 inches (7.62 cm) | Depth: 1.750 inches (4.445 cm)
    g: Height: 1.750 inches (4.445 cm) | Width: 1.625 inches (4.128 cm) | Depth: 1.625 inches (4.128 cm)
    h: Height: 1.625 inches (4.128 cm) | Width: 2.375 inches (6.033 cm) | Depth: 0.875 inches (2.223 cm)
    i: Height: 1.625 inches (4.128 cm) | Width: 2.125 inches (5.398 cm) | Depth: 0.875 inches (2.223 cm)
    j: Height: 1.125 inches (2.858 cm) | Width: 2.625 inches (6.668 cm) | Depth: 1.000 inches (2.54 cm)
    k: Height: 1.750 inches (4.445 cm) | Width: 2.750 inches (6.985 cm) | Depth: 0.875 inches (2.223 cm)
    l: Height: 7.125 inches (18.098 cm) | Width: 4.250 inches (10.795 cm) | Depth: 1.000 inches (2.54 cm)
    m1: Height: 0.625 inches (1.588 cm) | Width: 1.875 inches (4.763 cm) | Depth: 1.125 inches (2.858 cm)
    m2: Height: 0.875 inches (2.223 cm) | Width: 2.000 inches (5.08 cm) | Depth: 1.250 inches (3.175 cm)
    m3: Height: 0.750 inches (1.905 cm) | Width: 1.875 inches (4.763 cm) | Depth: 1.750 inches (4.445 cm)
    m4: Height: 0.750 inches (1.905 cm) | Width: 1.875 inches (4.763 cm) | Depth: 1.250 inches (3.175 cm)
    m5: Height: 0.625 inches (1.588 cm) | Width: 2.000 inches (5.08 cm) | Depth: 1.250 inches (3.175 cm)
    m6: Height: 0.625 inches (1.588 cm) | Width: 2.125 inches (5.398 cm) | Depth: 1.500 inches (3.81 cm)
    m7: Height: 0.375 inches (0.953 cm) | Width: 2.250 inches (5.715 cm) | Depth: 1.500 inches (3.81 cm)
    m8: Height: 0.500 inches (1.27 cm) | Width: 2.250 inches (5.715 cm) | Depth: 1.375 inches (3.493 cm)
    m9: Height: 0.875 inches (2.223 cm) | Width: 1.875 inches (4.763 cm) | Depth: 1.375 inches (3.493 cm)
    m10: Height: 0.500 inches (1.27 cm) | Width: 2.250 inches (5.715 cm) | Depth: 1.500 inches (3.81 cm)
    m11: Height: 0.500 inches (1.27 cm) | Width: 2.500 inches (6.35 cm) | Depth: 1.125 inches (2.858 cm)
    m12: Height: 0.375 inches (0.953 cm) | Width: 2.000 inches (5.08 cm) | Depth: 1.875 inches (4.763 cm)
    m13: Height: 0.875 inches (2.223 cm) | Width: 2.500 inches (6.35 cm) | Depth: 1.000 inches (2.54 cm)
    m14: Height: 0.875 inches (2.223 cm) | Width: 2.500 inches (6.35 cm) | Depth: 1.250 inches (3.175 cm)
    m15: Height: 0.500 inches (1.27 cm) | Width: 2.500 inches (6.35 cm) | Depth: 1.250 inches (3.175 cm)
    m16: Height: 0.750 inches (1.905 cm) | Width: 2.500 inches (6.35 cm) | Depth: 1.500 inches (3.81 cm)
    m17: Height: 0.625 inches (1.588 cm) | Width: 2.375 inches (6.033 cm) | Depth: 1.500 inches (3.81 cm)
    p1-6: Height: 7.375 inches (18.733 cm) | Width: 3.000 inches (7.62 cm)
    q1-2: Height: 7.500 inches (19.05 cm) | Width: 4.125 inches (10.478 cm)
    r1-5: Height: 7.875 inches (20.003 cm) | Width: 6.500 inches (16.51 cm)
    s1-7: Height: 6.000 inches (15.24 cm) | Width: 2.000 inches (5.08 cm)
    Materials
    a-l : wood, metal, adhesive
    m : wood, cloth, leather, metal, adhesive, ink
    n : cloth, batting, leather, ink
    o : cloth, batting, leather
    p : cotton
    q : cloth
    r : cloth
    s : cloth
    Inscription
    m1. Klein Karel / 642 D1 / X
    m2. Brüll, Rudolf / IV – 14–e 315 / X
    m3. Breuer, Eduard / 274 Ae3 / X
    m4. Beer, Leopold / 16 Cr / X
    m5. ASCHER EMIL / 460 Aae / X
    m6. OTTO POLLAK / CN 175 / X
    m7. OTTO KOHN / BF 18 / X
    m8. Schütz Josef / Ao 655 /X
    m9. Rudolf KALAS / CV 235 /X
    m10. LAUSCHER Georg / Ck537 / X
    m11. Rudolf RADA / AE8 100 / X
    m12. GROAG EMO / 301/Aam / X
    m13. GRODER ISAK / At 729 / X
    m14. WURM Heinrich / JG85 /X
    m15. GROSS WILHELM / 500/Cc / X
    m16. GUTTMANN VIKTOR / 83/CO
    m17. Blinder ISIDOR / 5o8u / X
    n1. AA70
    n2. AB 301
    n3. AEg 80
    n4. Ag 178

    Rights & Restrictions

    Conditions on Access
    No restrictions on access
    Conditions on Use
    No restrictions on use

    Keywords & Subjects

    Administrative Notes

    Provenance
    The model of Theresienstadt Block 5 was donated to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 1989 by Jiri Lauscher.
    Funding Note
    The cataloging of this artifact has been supported by a grant from the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany.
    Record last modified:
    2023-06-06 12:33:15
    This page:
    https:​/​/collections.ushmm.org​/search​/catalog​/irn855

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