Special Exhibition “The Courage to Know, The Endeavor to Tell”
Michiko Nomura (Nonfiction Writer) [Profile]

Born in Tokyo in 1937, graduating from Waseda University in 1959 with a degree in French literature from the Department of Literature. After working as a copywriter and editor-in-chief of a town magazine, she wrote essays and reportage for newspapers and magazines. In 1989, she encountered pictures of the children of Terezín in Prague and negotiated with the Embassy of the Czech Republic, the Jewish Museum, and others to publicize the fact and obtained permanent rights to use 150 replicas of the drawings.

Since 1991, she has held the “Terejin-shuyojo no Osanai Gaka-tachi ten (Young Painters of the Terezín Ghetto exhibitions)” at 23 venues in Japan.

She has continued to interview the few survivors, hold exhibitions, write books, and give lectures for 32 years. In order to convey the facts of the Holocaust, she also organizes tours to Poland and the Czech Republic, and tours to Tsuruga City, Yaotsu Town, Fukuyama City, and other cities in Japan.

She won the Grand Prize of the Sankei Children's Book Award for her book, Terejin no Chiisana Gaka-tachi (Little Painters of Terezín) and she has also written many books, including Furiidoru sensei to Terejin no Kodomo-tach (Friedle and the Children in Terezín) and Seikansha-tachi no Koe o Kiite (Listening to the Voices of Survivors).

Since 2010, Friidoru to Terejin no Chiisana Gaka-tachi (Friedl and Young Painters in the Terezín) has been included in a 6th grade Japanese language textbook for elementary school students (Gakkotosho). She had given many lectures at elementary and junior high schools, where students are learning from that textbook.
She has performed “Terejin mo Chocho ha inai (Terezín, No More Butterflies),” a concert of readings and songs, composed mainly from poems left behind by the children in Terezín, throughout the country, and in 2001 in Prague and Terezín.

In March 2023, she will resume a tour to Israel, one of her long-standing trips to learn about the Holocaust, and she continues her efforts to convey the message.

The “Life, Peace, and Encounter: Lecture and Concert ‘Terezín, No More Butterflies’” can be viewed here.

What is Terezín Ghetto?

Terezín, a small town with a population of about 6,000 at the time, was located 60 km north of Prague, the capital of Czechoslovakia. It became a concentration camp town from 1941 to 1945, when 90,000 people—more than 10 times the original population—were interned there. The beautiful town, which boasted churches, schools, restaurants, flower shops, and candy shops surrounding a park, was overflowing with people, and barracks were built in the parks and on the streets. Those who could not fit in the barracks slept on the steps in front of the buildings or on the side of the road. Of course, water supplies or toilets were not enough. The buildings and roadsides were filled with garbage and filth.

Some of those who believed the German decree that “Jews will be sent to a place where only Jews can live in peace” came wearing silk hats and carrying large suitcases filled with silverware and lace tablecloths. Such people could not help but realize that their place of residence was not a place where they would “live in peace” when they passed through the gates of Terezín and had all their belongings taken away.

Concentration camps under the Nazi rule. The borderline of Terezín as it was in 1938. Many of the camps were located in areas occupied by Germany during World War II.
A photo of the city of Terezín before it became a concentration camp.
The “Girls' Home” where many children were interned is now a housing complex.
A row of triple bunk beds. Three or four children slept on top of each other in one bed.