Friedl Dicker-Brandeis, Briefe und Leben
Projekt der Gemeinnützigen Organisation
Janusz Korczak House in Jerusalem

NPO Janusz Korczak House in Jerusalem
Director: Elena Makarova (Israel)


The end result of this project, full inventory and computerized database of Friedl Dicker-Brandeis (FDB) letters and a corresponding Internet publication, will create an educational and scientific resource and make a contribution into the study of European and Jewish cultural history between the wars and during WW2. The Internet publication will provide ground for publication of a comprehensive book publication in German, English, Russian or/and other languages.

As showed the preliminary research, the largest collections of FDB’s handwritings are in the Universität für angewandte Kunst ( Vienna), namely:

(1) a collection of letters to Anny Moller-Wotitz & Judith Moller (1921-1938, sign. 12.883/4/Aut – 13.742/1-3/Aut) (Some examples see here), and

(2) a collection of letters to Hilde Kothny (1939-1942).* (Some examples see here)

*Note: In the project, they are given under conditional titles “The Anny Collection” (“Anny Briefsammlung”) and “The Hilde Collection” ( “Hilde Briefsammlung” ) respectively.

Smaller collections and/or separate handwritings are kept in: (3) private Archive of Georg Schrom, Vienna (letters to Poldi Schrom, Hans Hildebrandt & Martha Döberl, 1928-1937); (4) the Schönberg Centre, Vienna (letter to Victor Ullmann, 1923); (5) the Beit Terezin Archive (letter to Willy Groag, 1944); (6) the Archive of Terezin Memorial (FDB’s postcards from Theresienstadt to several persons); (7) the Bauhaus Archive, Berlin (letter to Lily & Hans Hildebrandt, 1927); (8) the Jewish Museum, Prague (handwriting of FDB’s lecture on children’s drawings in Theresienstadt, 1943); (9) the private archive of Elena Makarova (FDB’s postcards from Theresienstadt to several addressees).

FDB’s epistolary heritage as accumulated by the author and director of the project totaled appr. to 350 handwritten pages. In addition to hard and “whimsical” handwriting, most of the letters had been kept in private possession without proper conservation, so their state is not always good and their inventory, transcription and typing in the computer, stipulated in the project, has been far from being an easy task.

The next step, identification of people’s names, dates and places presented further difficulty. Just like Viktor Klemperer, Karl Jaspers and other opponents of Nazism who lived under its power, FDB had to use Aesop’s language because of censorship. Hence using nicknames and abbreviations, sometimes deliberately vague wording, dropping dangerous subjects, using hints, individual codes, etc.

Therefore the reconstruction of the true facts, persons and backgrounds demanded a thorough and deep immersing into the epoch, or rather, three epochs of FDB’s life when the letters were written: 1) before the occupation of Czechoslovakia (1919 – 1939, divided further in a) Bauhaus period, b) Berlin-Vienna Ateliers’ period and c) Prague period); 2) during the occupation (1939 – 1942) and 3) during imprisonment in Theresienstadt ghetto (1942 – 1944). FDB’s lexicon is extremely rich and expressive, her syntax lax,* which presents another challenge to commentators and future translators.

* Note: Exclusions are a few business letters, e.g. describing her interior designs to customers, and the like.

As a result of our work, a number of attributions of letters’ dating, decoding of names, places and events and commenting the vague places in the letters have been made.

During the compilation and introducing of the texts into the world web, special consideration has been made so that the web publication was easily accessible and that options of later Internet or/and paper publications, incl. translated into English, were enabled. The present Internet publication is illustrated by some of FDB’s artworks, photographs, documents and facsimiles of her handwritings.

* Note: Due to the complex character of the project’s material, the present publication cannot be regarded as a ‘final product.’ The contents of the present web-site, especially the section regarding “The Hilde’s Collection” is supposed to be further revised and extended, both by the project’s team, and the visitors.

Elena Makarova,
Director of the project
Historian, art educator, exhibit curator


2012 Elena & Sergei Makarov