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Bruenn, Austria-Hungarian Empire
New York City, U.S.
Norbert Troller (1896, in Bruenn, Austria-Hungarian Empire – 1984, in New York City, United States) was a Czech and American architect of Jewish descent. He was also an artist notable for his portrayal on life in the Theresienstadt concentration camp.
Norbert Troller was born in Bruenn, Austria-Hungarian Empire (now Brno, Czech Republic) in 1900. He served as a soldier in World War I, and was taken prisoner by the Italians but released within a year. After the war, he studied architecture at the Brno Technical University, and as a postgraduate student, in the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna. He then worked in various architectural firms in Brno, Czechoslovakia, as a draftsman and an architect till he had established his own practice. His projects at that time included single family residences, multifamily residential buildings, industrial buildings, banks, warehouses, department stores, shops and the interiors. His architectural practice ended abruptly with the German occupation of Czechoslovakia in the fall of 1938. As a Jew, in 1942 he was imprisoned by the Nazis in the Theresienstadt ghetto-concentration camp. The self-government of the ghetto (the Council of Elders of Theresienstadt) hired him as an architect. During this time he produced a series of graphic drawings, showing the horrible conditions of the Jews in the camp, to be smuggled to the outside world. When the Gestapo found it, he was arrested and jailed in 1944. Later that year he was sent to another concentration camp, Auschwitz. The Red Army liberated him in 1945. After the war he lived briefly in Cracow, Poland, making a living as a painter, before settling in Prague, and, finally, in his native Brno, where he was able to resume his architectural practice. His first success was to get a commission to build a major department store with offices (the VICHR building) in Brno. Other commissions followed. Yet, being aware of the imminent communist coup, he applied for an American visa in 1945, and emigrated to the US as soon as the coup happened in 1948. For the next 10 years, Norbert Troller designed Jewish Community Centers for the US, Canada and Columbia, in the Building Bureau of the National Jewish Welfare Board in New York. He produced about 80 designs of those projects. The local architects had realized many of them. Simultaneously, he had developed and implemented planning and construction design standards for the Jewish Community Centers’ buildings. In 1958 he opened his own practice, and was involved in the design of residential houses, interiors of offices, showrooms, retail shops and restaurants in New York City and the metropolitan area. Many times during his life, Norbert Troller successfully participated in architectural competitions: in Brno, where he held two personal exhibitions in the Art Center, and in America, where he won the First prize and four Third prizes in the Chicago Herald Tribune Better Rooms Competitions, 1949 – 1950. In 1981 he had an exhibition of his artwork at the Yeshiva University of New York: 300 Theresienstadt drawings. He also taught in the Peoples University in Brno and in a high school in New York City. He died in 1984. In his memoirs he presented a detailed account of the Nazi atrocities in the Jewish concentration camps. Seven years after his death one of his memoirs was published in the US.
from 1922 Single-family residences’ interiors. Brno, Czechoslovakia, 1922 – 1939, 1948 – 1949 Interior furnishing: lamps, torchers, chandeliers, furniture, and tableware. Brno, Czechoslovakia, 1922 – 1939 E. Witman house. Brno, Czechoslovakia Dr. Kollman house. Brno, Czechoslovakia, 1947 - 1949 Dr. J. Lorek Hunting Lodge. Čeladná, Silesia, 1940 Restaurant. Moravia, 1940 – 1941 Department store. Brno, Czechoslovakia, 1947 – 1949 Dr. Miskevics house. Brno, Czechoslovakia, 1947 – 1949 Apartments’ interiors. New York City , 1950 Single-family residences in Danbury and Bridgeport, Connecticut, 1953 Nursery with school, Manhattan, New York, 1954 Vacation house on the Lake Oscawana, New York, 1961 Jewish Community Centers: 1948 Bayonne, New Jersey Bogota, Colombia Elmira, New York Englewood, New Jersey Hamilton, Ontario, Canada Nashville, Tennessee New Haven, Connecticut Sioux City, Iowa 1949 Duluth, Minnesota Jacksonville, Florida Memphis, Tennessee St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada Saginaw, Michigan Syracuse, New York Toronto, Ontario, Canada #1 Washington, D.C. Youngstown, Ohio 1950 Akron, Ohio Birmingham, Alabama #1 Bronx, New York Charleston, South Carolina Evansville, Indiana Hazelton, Pennsylvania Houston, Texas Milwaukee, Wisconsin Scranton, Pennsylvania Seattle, Washington. Toledo, Ohio 1951 Brookline/Boston, Massachusetts Los Angeles, California Manchester, New Hampshire Savannah, Georgia Springfield, Massachusetts York, Pennsylvania Youth Camps 1952 Atlanta, Georgia Camden, New Jersey Louisville, Kentucky Oakland, California #1 Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Plainfield, New Jersey Youth Camps 1953 Bronx, New York Coatesville, Pennsylvania Indianapolis, Indiana Ottawa, Ontario, Canada Passaic, New Jersey Washington Heights, New York 1954 Allentown, Pennsylvania Baltimore, Maryland Corpus Christi, Texas Pelham Parkway, New York Staten Island, New York Tucson, Arizona 1955 Boston, Massachusetts Durham, North Carolina Harrisburg, Pennsylvania Kingsbridge Heights, Bronx, New York Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania Richmond, Virginia St. Louis, Missouri San Antonio, Texas #1 Windsor, Ontario, Canada 1956 Birmingham, Alabama #2 Cleveland, Ohio Detroit, Michigan Kansas City, Missouri Long Beach, California #1 New Brunswick, New Jersey Oakland, California #2 San Antonio, Texas #2 San Diego, California Toronto, Ontario, Canada #2 1957 Dallas, Texas Newburgh, New York Salt Lake City, Utah Toronto, Ontario, Canada #3 1958 Long Beach, California #2 Toronto, Ontario, Canada #3
Norbert Troller. Theresienstadt: Hitler's Gift to the Jews. The University of North Carolina Press, 1991.ISBN 978-0-8078-1965-4
Magazine Interior Design. May, 1953, pp. 74 – 79 Newspaper Chicago Sunday Tribune, May 1, 1949, Part 1, page 6