Terezka’s Scrawls


At first glance, one would think this is a photo of a child randomly scribling with chalk. This memorable image of Terezka was taken in a Center for Disturbed Children. Terezka grew up in a concentration camp; assignment that day at the center was ‘To jest dom”- “This is home”. As seen in David Seymour’s contact sheets below, other children drew pictures of their houses and families, surrounded by crosses and trees. Terezka drew a picture of her “home” in Poland on the blackboard; they were scrawls — barbed wires surrounding concentration camp where she grew up.

In 1948, the UNICEF commissioned David Seymour for a project on childhood after the war that became a posthumous exhibition, CHIM’s Children, in 1957 at the Art Institute of Chicago. During three months in 1948, Chim photographed children in many countries, including Germany, Austria, Italy, Hungary, Greece, and his native Poland, where he took the picture of Terezka.

Selected by Edward Steichen for his exhibition The Family of Man, the photo also appeared in Life magazine, in a fitting photoessay documenting the shattered lives of post-war children in Europe. David Seymour (also known as Chim) (1911-1956) was a founder of Magnum Photos (with Robert Capa and Henri Cartier-Bresson) in 1947 and one of the leading photojournalists of the 20th century. See his portfolio here and most of his photoessays are on his facebook fan page.



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0 thoughts on “Terezka’s Scrawls

  1. This poor. child ‘s eyes look so grief – stricken and haunted! I wonder if she was ever able to lead a normal life outside the institution? Hopefully expressing herself through art brought her a measure of healing.

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