Portraits in Courage uses primary source materials and oral history excerpts to reveal the experiences of four individuals in Theresienstadt. Below are condensed biographies of the four people whose experiences you’ll discover:
Vera Schiff (née Katz) was born in Prague, Czechoslovakia on May 17, 1926. Along with her parents, Elsa and Siegfried, and her older sister Eva, Vera enjoyed a warm, loving home.
On May 8, 1942, Vera and her family were deported to Theresienstadt where Vera remained until the end of the war in 1945. Vera met and married her husband Arthur in Theresienstadt and upon liberation they returned to Prague. The resided there until the Communist coup d’état in 1949 when they immigrated to Israel. In 1961, the immigrated to Canada and settled in Toronto.
In 2012 Vera received an Honorary Doctorate of Letters from UNB-Saint, and in 2020 was another Honorary Doctorate of Letters from Thompson Rivers University in British Columbia. In 2021 Vera was made a member of the Order of Canada in recognition to her contributions to Holocaust education and literature.
In Portraits in Courage, you’ll discover the connection between Vera and the other individuals as well as her life in Theresienstadt.
Eva Katz was born in Prague, Czechoslovakia in 1924. Along with her younger sister Vera, and their parents Elsa and Siegfried Katz, Eva enjoyed a warm and loving upbringing.
An excellent student who also excelled in sewing and needlework, Eva joined the Jewish youth group Hagibor when Jewish students were forbidden to attend public school in Prague. The group focused on physical activities and sports and several photos survived showing Eva participating in athletics. When the Katz family was deported to Theresienstadt, Eva secured work in the gardens which produced vegetables for the guards.
In Portraits in Courage, you’ll learn about her relationship with her older sister Vera as well as their fate in Theresienstadt.
Fredy (Alfred) Hirsch was born in Aachen, Germany in 1916. After Hitler came to power in 1933, the Hirsch family decided to leave Germany. Fredy's brother Paul and their mother Olga, emigrated to Bolivia. Fredy who was 17 at the time, remained in Germany and tried to secure passage to British Mandate Palestine.
Unsuccessful in attempt to emigrate, Fredy moved to Frankfurt am Main, in Germany in 1934 and in 1935 as conditions for Jews in Germany worsened, he emigrated to Czechoslovakia. In the Czech capital, Prague, he found work as a leader of a Jewish youth group where he organized sporting activities for Jewish young people who were no longer allowed to attend school.
In Portraits of Courage you’ll learn about Fredy’s fate as a German Jew trying to escape Nazi persecution, and his unwavering committee to improving the lives of youth in his care.
Max Friediger was born on April 9, 1884 in Budapest, Hungary. Upon completing high school he studied to be a rabbi in Berlin.
During the First World War he was a rabbi in the Austro-Hungarian army from 1916 to 1918 . From 1920 to 1947 Rabbi Friediger was the Royal Danish Chief Rabbi in Copenhagen. He was married to Fanny, née Segal, from Berlin and the couple had two children.
After the German occupation of Denmark, Rabbi Friediger was among approximately 500 Danish Jews who were arrested in 1943 and later deported to Theresienstadt concentration camp.
On April 15, 1945, the Danish Jews were released from Theresienstadt under the protection of the Swedish Red Cross. This was the result of negotiations between the Swedish government and Nazi German officials. The Danish Jews were eventually sent to Sweden, where they remained until the end of the war. Out of the approximately 500 Danish Jews deported, about 450 survived.
In Portraits of Courage, you’ll learn how the Danish Jews experienced Theresienstadt as well as the connection between Rabbi Friediger and Vera