Tommy: To Tommy, for his Third Birthday in Theresienstadt, 22 January 1944
Written and Illustrated by Bedřich Fritta
The album was drawn by Czech artist Bedrich Fritta as a present for his son Thomas, on his third birthday. Illustrations for the toddler show a child sucking his thumb, using the potty, at the table, playing games and other activities, until we remember that this was not reality, but rather a gift of optimism. Fritta was head of the Theresienstadt ghetto's technical department, where Jewish artists imprisoned in the ghetto were forced to work for the Germans, drawing plans and preparing propaganda illustrations by day. However, they clandestinely documented the grim ghetto life whenever possible and concealed the drawings. Of his family, only Tommy survived the war, and was adopted by Leo Haas and his wife Erna, who also recovered the manuscript from its hiding place. Tommy has won Special Honorable Mention for illustration of a children’s book from the Israel Museum – Ruth Youth Wing Ben-Itzhak Award.