Ernst Thoms grew up in Nienburg on the Weser. After serving a painter's apprenticeship between 1911 and 1914, he had time to study for a few months at the Hanover School for the Decorative and Applied Arts before being conscripted.
Ernst Thoms was a prisoner of war in an English internment camp but returned home in November 1919.
He once again spent some months at the Hanover School for the Decorative and Applied Arts in 1920 in the class taught by Burger-Mühlfeld, where he was introduced to Grethe Jürgens and her circle.
Ernst Thoms, however, remained for the most part self-taught. His genres of choice were landscapes, still lifes and portraits.
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