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  • Fritz Lederer

    Fritz Lederer

    In the Eruv of Tereseinstadt

    A Series of 24 Engravings Created in 1946.
    Edition of 50 from the collection of Gisela Konopka, Minneapolis
    Each image is 25 cm x 14.5 cm

    fritz

    Fritz Lederer.

    title page

    Title Page: Edition of 50

    title page

    Title

    title page

    folio contents

    Folio Contents

    arrival

    Arrival

    the goal

    The Goal

    the little fortress

    The Little Fortress

    entering the camp

    Entering the Camp

    during examination

    During Examination

    first impression

    First Impression

    accomodation

    Accomidation

    latrines for 3000

    Latrines for 3000

    the rumor

    The Rumor

    transport to poland

    Transport to Poland

    the cargo

    The Cargo

    the one left behind

    The One Left Behind

    the asylum

    The Asylum

    the forced labor

    The Forced Labor

    a part of the fortress

    A Part of the Fortress

    the recreation

    The Recreation

    a 30 family room

    A 30 Family Room

    the golden sun

    The Golden Sun

    the western barracks

    The Western Barracks

    peeling potatoes

    Peeling Potatoes

    the east fortress

    The East Fortress

    the only exit from the eruv

    The Only Exit From the Eruv

    disposal of ashes

    Disposal of Ashes

    where were we all to finish

    Where We Were All to Finish

    laundry

    Laundry

    image of affliction

    Image of Affliction

    An "eruv (Eruw) is a demarcation line established around Jewish residences so that Jews may carry items on the Sabbath, as if they were in their own household.

    "The Sabbath of the Jew is a very special time of the week. From Friday evening just prior to sunset until Saturday evening when the stars begin to appear, a spirit of calm and restfulness descends which contrasts with the fast pace of daily weekday life. For the traditional Jew, the Sabbath, like all other aspects of life, is defined by a complete set of legal guidelines which describe the "do's" and "don't's" of the day. Among the restrictions accepted by traditional Jews are the prohibitions of carrying objects from public domains to private domains and vice versa, and the carrying within a public domain. By public domains are meant non-residential areas including streets, thoroughfares, plazas ("open areas"), highways, etc. By private domains are meant residential areas such as homes and apartments, i.e. enclosed areas, and areas which are surrounded by a "wall" and can be deemed to be "closed off" from the surrounding public domains. Within these latter areas, one is permitted to carry items and such carrying is not classified as "work" during the Sabbath.

    "The purpose of an Eruv is to integrate (the Hebrew word "eruv" means to mix or join together) a number of private and public properties into one larger private domain. Consequently, individuals within the Eruv district are then permitted to move objects across, what was before the erection of the Eruv, a public domain-private domain boundary. Thus, one may then carry from ones' home to the sidewalk and then, for example, to someone else's home.

    "This practice of constructing an Eruv has been used in countless Jewish communities throughout the world for over 2000 years. The legal principles involved fill entire volumes of the Babylonian and Jerusalem Talmuds (Codes of Jewish Law dating back to the first century C.E.)"

    In Fritz Lederer's art, the term "eruw" is used sarcastically, to indicate that it was indeed a Jewish community (ghetto) but one that was involuntary, but where some of the inmates, despite horrible afflictions, tried to maintain some semblence of Jewish life.

    "Fritz Lederer's Biography"

    based on information from Statni okresni archiv Cheb

    The academic painter Fritz Lederer was born on 22nd April 1878 in Kynsperka nad Ohrí. He studied at the Academy of Arts in Weimar and then he continued his education also in Paris and in Berlin. He was regarded as a graphic designer even though he was an autodidact in that branch. Furthermore he dealt with woodcuts and etchings.

    According to a witness of Lederer's nephew Amnon Lev, Lederer, during World War One, entered the army and fought as officer in Italy and in Yugoslavia. He created some very  famous became engravings which reflected his experiences from the war - „Mit den Egerländern in Russisch – Polen" (1914/15) and the woodcut „Und wenn die Welt voll Teufel wär" (1915) colored by hand.

    His woodcut pictures have been used as illustrations for the book „Das Buch Ruth" (The Book of Ruth) issued by the publishing company Verlag für jüdische Kunst und Kultur of Fritz Gurlitz in Berlin in 1920.

    Lederer devoted himself to landscape painting to a great extent and Bohemia became a very frequent theme. The series "Frühling im Riesengebirge" (Springtime in Giant Mountains) belongs to the most famous series. "The pictures are characterized by a mysterious melancholy and a tender magic of mood."1 Furthermore etchings "Aus dem Riesengebirge" and "Ansichten aus der Stadt Budweis" as well as the pictures "An der Eger", "Judenfriedhof in Königsberg", "Bergwerkshof", "Ein Sommerabend", "Tote Bäume", "Kiefer" etc. his artwork was influenced by his stay in Italy. The result was the series "Italienische Landschaften from 1909". His artwork was characterized for example by the following statement: "An impressionist who renounces all painting effects, an artist who searches the shape beauty in the poesy of a line ."2

    Lederer created portraits of important scholars, politicians, and actors like  Paul Wegener, Alexander Moissi, the writer Ludwig Ganghofer as well  as portraits of himself and of his wife.

    He married a daughter from the Zeiss (perhaps spelled Zais) family, possibly a relative of the company  known for their optics production plant. She was Protestant. They had no  children together and in the later time they lived separated. His wife lived  in Switzerland but was not divorced from Fritz Lederer. This circumstance  may very likely have saved his life.

    After 1938 he lived in Prague at He lived at Meislova ulice 23 where he was able to continue his artwork with some restrictions. On 18th August 1944 he left Prague and was transported by the transport Ef, no. 23 to the concentration camp at Terezín. It is believed he wound up in Terezin because his non-Jewish spouse. There he worked assembling religious artifacts. In Terezín he cooperated with Frantisek Zelenka in the art settings for theatre scenes and he lived there until the liberation. From his Terezín work just small occasional works, sketches, and studies have survived. Despite his age, even after the war he was able to create extensive graphic series from them, where he expressed various themes from Terezín as well as the oppressive atmosphere of a ghetto.

    After the liberation he returned to his birthplace -   Kynsperka nad Ohrí. where he lived in the house no. 8. He lived there with his common wife Elisabeth Bischof and her two sons.  After the war he met his nephew Amnon Lev in Cheb, we have a photograph from this meeting.

    Fritz Lederer died on 19th May 1949 in Cheb and was buried on 23rd May on the Jewish cemetery in Kynsperka nad Ohrí. This was the last burial on this cemetery. The grave of Fritz Lederer was situated on the left side from the main entrance. However, now  his grave is described as neither  maintained nor marked. In 1959 a commemorative exhibition in Munich was organized. The Fritz Lederer's work can be found in Weimar, in the Jewish Museum in Berlin, in Albertinum, in the National Library in Vienna, in the museum of the memorial place of Terezín, but also in the property of the displaced German residents. A large number  of original copies are now in the property of the Heimatstube Falkenau in Schwandorf, which also organized an exhibition of   Fritz Lederer's works in 2003 and which is participating in a 2004 exhibition as well. 20 of his prints are also found in the Museum at Beit Theresienstadt, Kibbutz Givat Haim Ilud, Israel.

    Information in this article comes for the most part from:
    Mgr. Jitka Chmelikova
    Statni okresni archiv Cheb
    Frantiskanske nam. 14
    CZ - 350 02 Cheb
    email: jitkachmelikova@email.cz

    1. S. Wininger, Große jüdische National-Bibliographie. Ein Nachschlagewerk für das jüdische Volk und dessen Freunde, IV, 1925 – 1936, S. 5  p. 5 an.

     2. Ibid., p. 6.

    German sources about Fritz Lederer