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.

Ms. Friedl Dicker

Friedl was born in Vienna, Austria, in 1898 to Jewish parents. She studied at the School of Arts and Crafts in Vienna, where her talents were recognized, and moved to Germany in 1921 to study at the Bauhaus, the center of the nascent avant-garde art movement. There, she met nice colleagues and demonstrated her talent not only in painting but also in sculpture, stage design, stage costumes, textiles, graphic design, and other integrated arts. After graduation, she and her fellow moved to Berlin and opened a studio in her hometown of Vienna. Montessori Kindergarten, in which she designed everything from the desks and chairs to the toys used by children, became a major topic.

However, Germany’s political situation changed drastically. Hitler led the rise of the Nazis. Berlin, the previously free capital of the arts, became a city of fear, in which discrimination and abuse against Jews were rampant, and the number of Nazi followers also increased in Vienna.

Some of Friedl’s friends abandoned their homelands and went abroad. Both her Berlin workshop and studio in Vienna were destroyed, and Friedl, a Jew, was in danger. In 1934, Friedl moved to Prague. Life there was pleasant, and she painted several pictures of the beautiful city, the flowers in her window, and the neighbors with whom she had become friends.
However, because of Nazi Germany’s annexation of Sudetenland in 1938, Jewish life in the city of Prague was subject to various restrictions. Children were forbidden from going to school, riding trains and buses, and going to parks and swimming pools. They had to stay hidden. Friedl invited children to her house and taught them how to paint; if found, they were going to be punished.
Friedl’s friends from her days in Germany visited her once. They brought her passport, which they had painstakingly obtained for her. They persuaded her, “It’s not too late. Run away to a safe country. We don’t want to lose your talent.” However, Friedl refused: “There are children who only look forward to painting. I can’t just run away and leave them behind.”

In 1942, Friedl was sent to Terezín.
“The word ‘fun’ has never been applied to Terezín’s memories, but if there was ever a time that was fun, it was during Friedl’s drawing class,” said both Dita and Raja, survivors of the Terezín camp.

Friedl also studied art therapy. Through the drawings, she was able to read the children’s internal issues, such as their repressed mental states and anxious feelings, and talk to them appropriately. At the same time, she also developed a sense of individuality in children through her unique teaching method based on Bauhaus Education. She taught the children not only to draw but also to paste, cut, and collage, allowing them to create their own works of art with their own free imagination.

For a short while, the children began to smile, to regain their tender feelings, and to show their wonderful talents. This, however, meant nothing to Nazi Germany as they only considered children as labor force and sent those who were sick and weak to the “east” one after another.

On October 16, 1944, when Friedl was 46 years old, she herself was sent to the “east.”

Friedl studied at the Bauhaus. She was a fan of Paul Klee, and attended every lecture he gave. Walter Gropius, the president of the Bauhaus at the time, who believed that “women were not suited for design,” admitted that Friedl was a talented illustrator.