Peter Kien: Five Poems Translated by Sibyl Ruth

The High Window


Peter Kien: Theatre at Theresienstadt


Peter Kien (1919-1944) was a German-speaking Czech. He became a student at the Academy of Fine Arts in Prague at the age of 17 but was expelled from in 1939 because he was a Jew. In December 1941, Peter Kien was interned in the Theresienstadt Ghetto-camp.

Having made a name for himself in Prague, he was favoured by Theresienstadt’s Jewish self-government. This meant he was given employment at the Ghetto’s art workshop, establishing himself there as a painter, designer and teacher. He also wrote poetry and the libretto for an opera, The Emperor of Atlantis. Kien’s poems are like parables, creatively reworking his life in the Ghetto.

Together with his wife and parents, Kien was transported to Auschwitz in October 1944. I originally became interested in Theresienstadt because my great aunt was imprisoned there. The historian Dr Anna Hájková introduced me to Kien’s…

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