The Wiener Library

For the Study of the Holocaust & Genocide

One Family, Three Cities, Six Years of War: A Family of Artists During the War and the Holocaust

1 March 2017 – 28 April 2017

Help! a self-portrait from 1941 in pen and ink by Franciszka Themerson. In this drawing, produced in London, the figure of Franciszka Themerson is depicted alone with sinister-looking aircraft hovering overhead and the word Help! in capitals below.

Help! by Franciszka Themerson

[self-portrait], January 1941, pen and ink ©Franciszka Themerson

This exhibition traces the story of one family’s experiences of separation, persecution and survival during the Second World War and the Holocaust: the family of Franciszka Themerson and her niece Jasia Reichardt.

Originally from Warsaw, artist and illustrator Franciszka Themerson found herself alone in London during the war, separated from her husband, writer and film-maker Stefan Themerson, who was stranded in southern France, and the rest of her family, trapped inside the Warsaw Ghetto.

As deportation from the Ghetto intensified in the summer of 1942, Franciszka’s nine-year old niece Jasia Reichardt escaped. Jasia’s remarkable ’15 Journeys’ took her from the Ghetto in 1942 to London in 1946, where she was reunited with her aunt and uncle, as described in her 2012 memoir. From 1942-1946, Jasia experienced life in hiding, and finally lived in convents under an assumed Catholic identity.

This exhibition features family documents and photographs, and showcases some of the work of this highly creative family. There is also a display of sixteen original drawings made by Franciszka Themerson in London between 1940 and 1942, the drawings she called her ‘Unposted Letters’ to her husband separated from her in France. 

Supported by GV Art London.

One Family, Three Cities, Six Years of War Series

To accompany our exhibition, we are hosting a series of events which will provide an opportunity to reflect upon the Polish experience of war in more detail. Events in the One Family, Three Cities, Six Years of War Series include: