the paintings of frederick terna

107081311-06132016-terna-frederick-bomb-01Stephen Westfall at BOMB Magazine:

In 1943, at the age of twenty, Frederick Terna knew that if he survived the war he was going to be a painter. At the time he was an inmate of Terezín, which was not his first concentration camp, nor was it to be his last. In all, Terna was interned at four different camps: first at Lipa, known as Linden bei Deutsch-Brod, from October 3, 1941 to March 1943; then Terezín, known as Ghetto Theresienstadt, to fall of 1944; then Auschwitz to the end of 1944, and finally to Kaufering, a sub-camp of Dachau, outside of Munich, near Landsberg. Terna was born in Vienna but was raised in Prague, where his family moved when he was quite young. He lacked the realist rigor to enter art school at age thirteen. At Terezín, with horror all around him, he found himself composing mental pictures of the barracks, fences, and roads leading through the camp and adjusting them in his mind’s eye for better compositions. His fellow inmates told him he could be killed for his drawings.

Holocaust survivors are remarkable for the mere and obdurate fact of their survival. Each one is an extraordinary case study, even if they achieve little in their life afterward. The children of survivors are notoriously at risk for neuroses of their own, and so on. History’s great crimes reverberate for generations. Terna lost his entire family in the camps.

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