Müller was born the youngest of four children.  Shortly after his birth the family moved to Prague, where Müller grew up.  He started taking private classes in drawing during his childhood and, showing a great talent later went on to the Prague Academy of Fine Arts.  While he did not paint for a living, he was constantly in contact with the art world.  He opened in Prague a private school for drawing, enrolled in the Mánes Artists Association, and after World War I established an auction hall for arts in one of Prague’s liveliest cultural and social centers. Müller is recorded as being popular and well liked among both Czech and German art collectors as well as among the artists themselves.  After the Nazi occupation, his auction hall was robbed and closed, and Müller worked for the Prague Jewish Community appraising the art objects from the confiscated Jewish properties. 

On July 8, 1943, Müller was deported as “passenger” 424 on Transport Dh to Theresienstadt, where he spent the last fourteen months of his life. 

Despite his background as a professional artist, he was not occupied in the Ghetto art workshops or in the Technical Department with many of the other artists; rather, he worked as an orderly in the Urological ward of Dr. Kurt Weiner in the Engineers barracks.

Many of Müller’s minimum of five hundred works were portraits of the ill, crippled and dying-- some beauteous, some witty, some shocking.  During his first few months at Theresienstadt, Müller drew at least one picture a day, often more.  As his internment continued, however, he drew less, each picture taking more time.  He dated every picture he made.

On October 1, 1944, as “passenger” 535 on Transport Em, a month and a half after his he completed his last picture dated August 16, 1944, Müller was deported to Auschwitz, where he was apparently gassed to death on October 3, 1944, the day the transport arrived. 

Interpretation of Sketches by Moritz Mueller, a male patient in bed, Theresienstadt (Theme: Theresienstadt Ghetto)

(Description of pencil on Paper, 21 March 1944 RG-14. 05. 04):

The image reveals an elderly man who appears to be uncomfortable. We see only his head, propped by pillows, his eyes wide open as if wondering about his environment He wears glasses that are set into large, round   frames. He seems cramped and ill at ease. His face is clean shaven and he is likely almost bald.  His covers are pulled up high. Still   he has an air of a resigned person; one who is aware that there are few choices at his fingertips.

The sick bays or reviers in Theresienstadt were a poor caricature for  a   hospice or a  place  that was supposed to  take care of the ill.   

Although in Theresienstadt all inmates had to endure hunger and countless deprivations, none suffered more grievously   than the elderly.  Their food rations were cut down in favor of an   increment for children; they no longer had the strength to keep themselves clean and their surroundings   in a livable condition.  The one time well- to-do    German Jews scraped whatever they had left to pay for stay in “Spa Theresienstadt”. They paid dearly for their naïve belief   in  the Nazi promise that they are buying a place  in an comfortable  old folks home  in a spa in Bohemia , where they  will spent the last years  of their lives.

The  crowding in  the  sick bays forced the patients  to keep their few worldly  effects  hung up on some nails fastened into the wooden bunks  or place them  on the  flimsily  built shelves overhead.

In the left corner of the poster we can read; “Theresienstadt Ghetto “ 31, lll, 1944. M. Mueller.

(Description of Poster Showing Four Elderly Male Patients confined to a Sick Bay): 

Next poster shows four elderly male patients confined to a sick bay. Every barrack had a sick bay (revier), and all were in abominable conditions,    but by far the worst were those barracks that housed   the   elderly.  For some time the “Jaeger barrack” “(Hunters barrack)” was the place where elderly were    forced to live in abysmal, overcrowded conditions.  These barracks also served as quarantine station for disinfection   and de-vermination.

 The cots were squeezed   tightly one next to another and in the first we see an elderly man, his   thinning hair is neatly combed and he has not only a beard but   also a moustache. He wears   spectacles.  He is fully covered and looks as if alert and pensive.  As always in   ghetto,   clothing is hung    on nails   around the inmate’s bed.  In front of the bed is a footstool, on which is placed a wash basin,   a rare commodity in the Ghetto.

The artist, Mr.   Moritz Mueller chose to sign and   date the drawing on the   crosswise plank of the footstool. (20.II. 1943. M. Mueller).

     Above the bed is a shelf, used by inmates as depository of all essential, life sustaining possessions. These precious assets were:  the tin bowl, a cup, a spoon and   few other personal items.  All these were priceless and irreplaceable articles, loss of which was a terrible blow that often spelled death of the inmate. Those inmates who did not have a bowl and utensils often did not   get the meager rations. 

The next patient, at the adjacent bed, is likely in worse condition.  He seems more uncomfortable, perhaps not fully conscious, either asleep or out of it.  He too is covered up high, till his chin.  For the most part of the time the elderly were freezing, so they kept on all clothing they owned, trying to keep warm.  The draft in the halls was constant, and no barrack was sufficiently heated.  These conditions were very hard for the elderly to cope with, because they were malnourished, sick and weak. In attempts to conserve some warmth   they often    huddled together. 

The second patient wears also glasses. Like his neighbor he has a footstool and his belongings are also placed on an overhead shelf.

The door is ajar, but the tightly packed in cots   continue right when space permits. The  third  patients  has similar  appearance as the  first one,  only he does not seem to  have   eye glasses  and there is no footstool in sight.  In the corner is the fourth and last   man, who shares the crowded space in this jammed sick bay.

Muller’s sketch does justice to conditions in the reviers, it captures all visible, but what he could not draw   with his pencil was the   worst feature, the quintessential gist of total abhorrence: The all invading, overwhelming foul smell of the closed in areas of the elderly. The crowding and lack of hygiene, combined with the putrid smell of poorly washed unkempt bodies, unclean clothing and bedding blended into a noxious stench.  No one   who ever lived in    the ghetto could forget the one of a kind stench that permeated the barracks of the elderly and frail.  It was a stench of death, one that has a very special unmistakable and repulsive odor.

 Writing in the right corner of the drawing is illegible.

Next drawing shows us only two men.  The first depicts probably an orthodox Jew. His long   beard and side locks (Pajot)   are in disarray.   His half-closed eyes have a vacuous expression, one of a man who no longer has any hopes. He might be trying to peer into a different world, the one in the Beyond.  He appears to be at death’s door.   His mouth is half open; he is likely close to his final hours, exiting from this callous, heartless world.  All his worldly possessions, - according to the regulations, - were neatly placed on the overhead shelf.  

 His neighbor’s body is very close to the older man.  Though it is obvious that his place is in in the next cot,   he seems to snuggle as close as he can to his next bed companion. Perhaps he nestled   his body so close just to get some warmth or simply searched for     comfort that proximity of another human being can provide.  He appears younger but he also does not show positive faith or   desire, his expression shows lack of purpose    , as if all life and faith was drained out of him.

 Around and above the bed   hangs some clothing, the customary   way of inmates keeping their tattered   wear.    We are confronted with the   hopeless, desolate misery that unmistakably stares into our faces. 

Muller signed it:  Theresienstadt 7/Xl.1943

 

(Next study is titled:  Moritz Mueller, A Male patient is examined by Dr.  Kurt Weiner, Pencil on paper, Theresienstadt, 28 February 1944, RG -24.05.03):

 Many dedicated physicians tried to help their patients with next to no means to do so.  They could not ply the art of healing, for they had not even the minimum of necessary items, no drugs, or even the basic surgical instruments, no curative substance of any sort was at hand, so all they could dispense was kindness and    concern.  Still they visited the ill in the camp’s hospital or the many reviers in assorted barracks providing moral and emotional succor. The patient and the physician both benefited. The many ailing old folks, in camps parlance   called “Siechen”,   had faith in doctors’ judgment and advice and the physician   felt that his day had some purpose for he applied - albeit   in much diminished way - his skill. The mere presence of the physician provided a measure of comfort.

 The drawing shows a patient in bed, who is visited by Dr.  Kurt Weiner   , an urologist assigned to take care of the elderly.  The patient here is an elderly man, wearing glasses and looking somewhat at peace. His cover is pulled high, right up to his chin. As on all sick bays all his personal possessions   are placed on the overhead shelf .These hardly ever tantamount to  more than his bowl,  spoon    and perhaps some brick and  brac.

 The   sick man’s lips are curled in a thin smile, he is likely glad that   Dr.  Weiner came to see him. His nose is thin and pointed; often in the emaciated faces of the elderly the nose became a sharp and prominent feature. 

 The worst factor of the urology department cannot be picked up by a pencil. These wards were notoriously lacking cleanliness and care. The decomposing urine exuded sharp stench of ammonia and the   malodorous air of neglect was difficult to ignore even by those ill-fated ones, who    had to spend there    the last days of their lives.

 In the left corner we can read: Theresienstadt 28/ll 1944 M. Mueller

Urology Ward  P. Kurt Winnsen ,  Ward  No 312