Erich Lichtblau-Leskly (1911 – 2004)
     Erich Lichtblau-Leskly

Exhibition at Beit Lochamei HaGetaot (Ghetto Fighters’ House Museum), Israel (2011-2012)

Curator: Elena Makarova,
Designer: Maria Makarova

This project Closest to the Truth: Terezin Cartoonist Erich Lichtblau-Leskly is dedicated to one of the artists – prisoners in the Holocaust. During World War Two, while imprisoned, together with his wife Elsa in ghetto Terezin (Theresienstadt) Erich Lichtblau-Leskly created a secret series of cartoons which could cost him life if caught by the Nazis.

The key idea of the project is cultural and moral resistance of the Jewish people in extreme conditions, in particular, art as one of the strongest survival tools in the Shoa.

The cartoons made by Erich Lichtblau-Leskly in 1942 – 1945 constitute an impressive satirical chronicle of life in the ghetto. In his drawings, named by himself ‘tragicomic,’ one can find different scenes and episodes from everyday ghetto life. His cartoons are undoubtedly a unique and important testimony produced by a gifted, perceptive and socially engaged person.

Erich Lichtblau-Leskly

Biographical Data

June 6, 1911 – Born in Hrušov/Hruschau, Frýdek district (Moravsk á Ostrava), mother Sidonie Lichtblau, née Storch, father Josef Lichtblau

1918 – 1920 – Studied in Hrušov German school

1920 – 18.11 – Josef Lichtblau died; family moved to Moravsk á Ostrava

1920 – 1922 – Erich studied in Ostrava Jewish school

1922 – 1925 – Erich studied in Ostrava German gymnasium

1920 – 1925 – Became member of Zionist organizations Thelet Lavan and Maccabi, travelled to Poland and met Hashomer Hatzair members; planned to go to Palestine to take part in the Maccabiah Games; dreamed about immigration to Palestine.

1925 – 1928 – Studied and worked as apprentice/assistant at engineer Spitzer’s electrical appliances shop and Jakub Schanzer’s shop Mode Kurzwaren

1929 – 1936 – Worked as a window display designer at Rix Shopping Center in Ostrava

1930 – Studied at Hamburg Decoration School

1.10.1932 – 28.3.1934 – Served in Czechoslovak Army

2.2.1935 – Met Else Silbiger, born 26.7.1913 in Zebracz, Poland

30.5.1937 – Married Else Silbiger

1937 – 1939 – Worked as a designer at Julius Huppert’s shop in Ostrava

1939, spring – After Nazi invasion 15.3.1939, the Lichtblau couple escaped from Ostrava to Prague, where they joined Hechalutz ( Prague branch), believing that it would help them to leave the Protectorate for Palestine

1939 – 1.1.1940 – Worked as a laborer in engineer O. Holzner’s building construction company

1940 – 1941 – Worked as a laborer at the Hachshara – Zionist agricultural training farm, in the village of Dobešice near Písek in southern Bohemia

26.11.1942 – Deported with his wife from Klatovy to Theresienstadt (Terezín). Worked as a laborer in Bauhof (Building Yard), and in free time drew cartoons.

26.8.1944 – Transported to Wulkow, Germany (also called Barackenbau Arbeitskommando Zossen) with about 200 other prisoners to build shelters for the SS. 10.2.1945 – Returned to Terezín

30.5.1945 – Liberated, moved to Prague, changed his surname to Leskly

1.8.1945 – Got papers of Czechoslovak repatriation office, moved to Písek

1945 – 1946 – Made puppets and wooden toys for the Zelinka toy company

1946 – Moved to Teplice, worked as a designer in a department store JEPA

28.8.1949 – Immigrated to Israel with Elsa and their two children via transit camp in Bari, Italy, stayed a while in kibbutz Beit Zera

1949 – 1970 – Lived in Herzliya, Raanana, Givataim, worked as a house painter, later as a window display designer of the Tel Aviv Dizengof Shopping Center

1976 – First personal exhibition at the Beit Theresienstadt museum, kibbutz Givat Chayim Ihud

1980s – Reproduced the Terezin cartoons

October 2, 2004 – died at the age of 93 in Tel Aviv

1984, 2010 – Personal exhibitions in Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust

2011 – 2012 – Exhibition Closest to the Truth: Terezin Cartoonist Erich Lichtblau-Leskly at Ghetto Fighters’ House Memorial, Israel.

2012 © Elena & Sergei Makarov