My grandparents, Veronika Fritsche and Hans-Dieter Schwarz, have worked as fine art painters, graphic artists, and illustrators for children’s books for various publishing houses: Altberliner Verlag Berlin, Dr. Herbert Schulze Buch- und Kunstverlag Leipzig, Evangelische Verlagsanstalt Berlin, Evans Brothers London und Editions La Farandole Paris. Both are Master students with Prof. Arno Drescher at the Staatliche Akademie für graphische Künste und Buchgewerbe in Leipzig and also Members of the Artist Union of the German Democratic Republic.
My grandmother, Veronika Fritsche, created illustrations for more than 30 children’s books as wells as graphics and postcards. She also created artwork for Urania Verlag and illustrations for scientific publications.
Hans-Dieter Schwarz, my grandfather, worked as a freelance painter and graphic artist in Koethen. He created portraits of a great number of important artists of the German Democratic Republic of his time including Helene Weigel, Bertold Brecht and Johannes R. Becher. He also worked as a cartoonist for the newspapers Sportecho, Neues Deutschland und Eulenspiegel.
In 1955, he was arrested by the secret police (Stasi) for being an enemy of the state because he had created illustrations and cartoons with hostile images of Russian and East German politicians to denounce soviet and communist values. He was tortured and sentenced to three years in prison.
After his prison release, he created nonpolitical children’s books’ illustrations for the Dr Herbert Schultze Buch- und Kunstverlag, the Altberliner Verlag and the Evangelische Verlagsanstalt. In 1974 he was honored with the first award of the International Children Book Exhibition in London for his book “The little Hippo,” but was not allowed to accept it.
Under continuous surveillance from the Stasi, he created intensive painted landscapes und townscapes works of Koethen, all the while the city decaying more and more into ruins. On January 25, 1991, he died in Koethen at the age of 67.