Bedrich Fritta (1909-1945), Czech Jewish artist who, while living in the Theresienstadt concentration camp during World War II, created drawings and paintings that depicted the deplorable living conditions. Fritta was born Fritz Taussig in Moravia on September 19, 1909. Before the war, he was well known as a painter, designer and caricaturist. On November 24, 1941, he was among 342 prominent men deported from Prague to the Theresienstadt. There, he was appointed head of the Graphic Department. His job was to prepare graphics for reports, which detailed the conversion of Theresienstadt from a fortress to an internment camp. The reports were then sent by the Jewish Council to the SS. In this position, Fritta had access to art supplies, including paper and paint, and he worked alongside other artists including Otto Ungar, Ferdinand Bloch and Leo Haas. Some of the artwork was smuggled out of the camp by the former art dealer Leo Strauss, while the remainder was hidden in various places. In June 1944, Fritta and his colleagues were arrested in the "Painters Affair." Adolph Eichmann, who was investigating efforts to smuggle art out of the camp, interrogated the artists. None of the artists broke their silence, and they were sent with their families as political prisoners to the Small Fortress near Theresienstadt. Fritta's son, Tommy, became the youngest political prisoner of the Nazis. During Fritta's three and a half months there, he was tortured and forced to do hard labor. His wife died of starvation. In October 1944, he and Leo Haas were accused of distributing anti-Nazi propaganda, and along with their families, deported to Auschwitz. Fritta died a week after his arrival. After the war, Leo Haas adopted Tommy Fritta. Some of Fritta's works were recovered, having been hidden in the walls of barracks at Theresienstadt and the Small Fortress. Included in the works that survived was an album called Tomickovi, which he had given to his son as a present on his third birthday. Tomas Fritta presented the book to Yad Vashem in 1999; it was subsequently published in Hebrew and is used as an educational tool to teach young children about the Holocaust.
[Sources: Miriam Novitch, Lucy Dawidowicz and Tom L. Freudenheim. Spiritual Resistance: Art from Concentration Camps. Philadelphia: The Jewish Publication Society of America, 1981; "A Small Child in Prison." Theresienstadt Martyrs Remembrance Association Newsletter, January 2000, No 48 < http://www.cet.ac.il/terezin/d-k9e6.htm> (10 February 2004); "Yad Vashem Reprints Ghetto Artist's Book," The Jewish News Weekly of Northern California. (10 February 2004).]
Edgar Krasa is the son of Alois and Elsa Krasa. He was born in 1924 in Karlsbad, Czechoslovakia, where his father worked as a salesman. In 1933 his family moved to Prague. In the late 1930s after the institution of anti-Semitic legislation, which interrupted his formal education, Edgar needed to learn a trade. At his aunt's suggestion, he became an apprentice chef, reasoning that with such a trade he would never go hungry. Edgar remained in Prague after the outbreak of World War II. In 1941 after he was dismissed from his job, Edgar went to work as a cook for a refugee shelter for Polish Jews that was run by Karl Schliesser. Later that year, Schliesser was appointed head of the economics section of the newly established Theresienstadt ghetto, and he requested that Edgar join him there to organize the kitchens. In return, Edgar was promised that his parents would be exempt from deportation to the east. (In fact, though Edgar's parents were ultimately sent to Theresienstadt, they were not deported to Auschwitz.) Edgar joined Aufbaukommando (AK1), the initial group of 342 men who came to Theresienstadt on November 24, 1941 to renovate the garrison. (The first deportees arrived six days later.) He assumed responsibility for setting up the two kitchens and training workers to staff them. Edgar designed menus based on the few ingredients available: ersatz coffee, potatoes, flour and a synthetic soup mix. He roomed with Raphael Schaechter, a pianist and choral conductor, who kept up the morale of the other workers by leading them in Czech choral music in the evenings. During his imprisonment in Theresienstadt, Schaechter conducted several operas and numerous performances of Verdi's Requiem. He selected the mass for political reasons, because of its discussion of a final judgment and accounting for sins. Krasa participated in all sixteen performances of the mass, singing bass in the chorus. Krasa also became friendly with several of the artists in the ghetto, including Leo Haas and Fritz Taussig (Fritta), to whom he slipped extra rations in exchange for their drawings. On September 24, 1944 Schleisser was deported to Auschwitz on a transport of 2,500 skilled and able-bodied Jews. Krasa was sent the following week on October 1. From Auschwitz, Krasa was sent to the Gleiwitz labor camp, where he worked as a welder. When the camp was evacuated on January 19, 1945, Krasa was put on a forced march, from which he escaped three days later. He hid in a ditch, and the following day was liberated by Soviet troops. On May 1 Edgar returned to Prague and then proceeded to Theresienstadt, where he was reunited with his parents. Together they went back to Prague, where Edgar met and later married Hana Fuchs, a fellow survivor from Prague. After the establishment of the State of Israel, Edgar served as the chef at the Israeli embassy in Prague for two years. In 1950 he and his wife left Czechoslovakia illegally and immigrated to Israel.