By age 14, he had written five novels and penned a diary about the Nazi occupation of Prague. By 16, he had produced 170 drawings and paintings, edited an underground magazine in the Jewish ghetto, and written numerous short stories. But by then, he had also walked to the gas chamber at Auschwitz.
Slight and stoop-shouldered, filled with intellectual curiosity but prone to mischief, Petr Ginz read voraciously, wrote constantly, developed cryptographs to record BBC broadcasts, built exploding toy cannons to frighten his classmates, and drew and painted a world full of adventure and exotic locations. In his novel, an allegory about Hitler, Petr wrote and illustrated the story of a giant robotic creature that is used by the government to terrorize the people. He ends the book with the warning: “Is it not possible that a new monster may appear on the surface of this earth, worse than this one–a monster that…will torture mankind in a terrible manner.”
Through Petr’s artwork, novels, short stories and magazine articles, interwoven with fantastical animation, this unconventional documentary portrait reveals his journey from precocious child to young adult, from innocence to the painful awareness of inhumanity, from gifted artist and writer to prodigy. Although Petr’s life ended at Auschwitz, it is not a story of tragedy but a celebration—a testament to how a boy’s wonder and creative expression represent the best of what makes us human.