Tomi was born and grew up in Alsace, France.  His father died when he was just three years old leaving his mother and three older siblings to raise him.  At the age of eight years old, the Nazi army occupied Alsace for the duration of the Second World War and thus Tomi changed nationality twice as a child.  During the war he learned to speak German fluently as well as English and so ended up becoming perfectly trilingual.  Tomi wrote a book of childhood memoirs called, Tomi – A Childhood Under the Nazis (À la Guerre Comme à la Guerre) and in France it is included in the school curriculum.

“From an early age, I was encouraged to develop my drawing skills – it seems that I was born with my father’s artistic talents.

During the war most of my drawings were aimed at making fun of the Nazi occupiers. A dangerous pursuit! Then in the winter of 1944-45 we were caught in the Colmar pocket, the last bridgehead the Germans had over the Rhine. The battle raged for three months and I recorded what I saw with pencil and paper. The scenes of war and the waste of destruction became a leitmotif for the rest of my life.

Growing up I witnessed all the ugly facets of war. That and the death of my father when I was 3 ½ years old marked my childhood. By the age of fourteen my outlook on the world was clearly defined by a loathing and abhorrence of violence, prejudice, injustice and fanaticism of any kind.”