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Julie Wolfthorn, Baby I, 1944. LBI, 89.8.
Julie Wolfthorn, Baby I, 1944. LBI, 89.8. Julie Wolfthorn was a German painter. In 1898, she was co-founder of the Berlin Secession. In October 1942, 78-year-old Julie Wolfthorn and her sister Luise Wolf were transported to Theresienstadt. She is said to have continued drawing, as far as possible under the circumstances, until her death in December 1944.

About 9,000 children passed through Theresienstadt. It is estimated that at least 90 percent of them were transported to concentration camps and murdered. Initially, children lived with their parents in barracks. The adults had to work, so the children lacked supervision. In 1942, the Youth Welfare Office created designated home areas for children divided by language — Czech or German. Each house sheltered 200–300 children with rooms assigned by gender and age. The living conditions and food for children were better than in the rest of the camp.

The staff of educators established curricula that reflected the ideological differences among Jews in Central Europe before World War II. While houses led by Zionists treated the camp as a preparation for life in Palestine, other houses followed assimilationist or Communist ideology.

Children mimicked adult conflicts between Czech and German-speaking Jews, and Czech caregivers routinely mocked German-Jewish children.

Artwork of a character from the Child’s Opera Brundibar, 1944.
Artwork of a character from the Child’s Opera Brundibár, 1944. LBI, 84.491. A children’s opera entitled Brundibár was created by a Czech-Jewish composer, Hans Krása, in 1938, and the score was smuggled into the camp. It was performed many times in the camp, including by children from the camp for the Red Cross visit in 1944. Like adults, children were forced to participate in deception organized for international public opinion.

“One of my deepest impressions was the children’s choir from Carmen. The day after the performance we saw the children marching gaily to the station to be transported to Auschwitz. They were looking forward to the railway trip and sang their chorus while marching not knowing it was their last song.”

—Edith Kramer-Freund, As a doctor in Theresienstadt, LBI 283c.